Books The Best Novels About Prep School  

Ranker Books
292 votes 63 voters 4.9k views 32 items

List Rules What are the best fiction books about or set in boarding schools?

List of the Best Novels About Prep School. Nothing quite captures the zeitgeist like privileged teen angst, as displayed in the best novels about prep school. From The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield to Hogwarts’ Harry Potter, the best boarding school fiction isn’t just the stuff of dark hallways and confused sexuality; it’s the stuff of legend.

English professors might scoff at a few of these selections. However, this list of the best novels about prep school is comprised of volumes that have consistently gained the reader stamp of approval, whether over several decades (Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), or spanning centuries (Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol).

The best novels about prep school share a few common themes: a general search for meaning, good versus evil, suicide and suicidal thoughts, lost love, unrequited love, and waning youth. The protagonists from these academies might be students (Gene Forrester, in John Knowles’ A Separate Peace) or teachers (Mr. Chipping, in James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips), but often their struggles mirror each other.

While the best boarding school books primarily feature characters from advantaged backgrounds, the painful, isolating, thrilling and confounding experiences of adolescence resonate across generations, socioeconomic status, gender identities -- muggle or magical-born. That’s why this definitive list of the best novels about prep school speaks to so many readers.

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A Separate Peace is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
A Separate Peace John Knowles

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Harry Potter and the Order of ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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The Catcher in the Rye is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger

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The World According to Garp is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë

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Prep is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Prep Curtis Sittenfeld

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A Prayer for Owen Meany is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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Winter Light is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
peter thompson added Winter Light Peter Thompson

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new girls is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
The New Girls Beth Richardson Gutcheon

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A Christmas Carol is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens

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Old School is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Old School Tobias Wolff

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Good-bye, Mr. Chips is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Good-bye, Mr. Chips James Hilton

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The Chocolate War is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
swag added The Chocolate War Robert Cormier

The Best Movies About Prep School

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Last Term at Malory Towers is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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The Austere Academy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
The Austere Academy Daniel Handler

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Prodigy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Prodigy David Kalstein

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Upper Fourth at Malory Towers is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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The World of Henry Orient is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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The Last Olympian is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
The Last Olympian Rick Riordan

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Third Year at Malory Towers is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

The Best Novels Ever Written

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First Term at Malory Towers is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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Skippy Dies is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Skippy Dies Paul Murray

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In the Fifth at Malory Towers is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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The Second Form at Malory Towe... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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To Serve Them All My Days is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
To Serve Them All My Days R. F. Delderfield

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The Sea of Monsters is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
The Sea of Monsters Rick Riordan

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The Battle of the Labyrinth is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

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The Mists of Avalon is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
The Mists of Avalon Marion Zimmer Bradley

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The Lightning Thief is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
The Lightning Thief Rick Riordan

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The rector of Justin is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
The Rector of Justin Louis Auchincloss

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The Headmaster's Dilemma is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
The Headmaster's Dilemma Louis Auchincloss