Books The Best Novels About Prep School  

Ranker Books
315 votes 68 voters 5.4k 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.
list ordered by

1
28 5
A Separate Peace is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
John Knowles

2
18 3
Harry Potter and the Order of ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

3
21 9
The Catcher in the Rye is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
J. D. Salinger

4
13 2
The World According to Garp is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

5
12 2
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Charlotte Brontë

6
16 6
Prep is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Curtis Sittenfeld

7
9 3
A Prayer for Owen Meany is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

8
4 1
Winter Light is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
peter thompson added Peter Thompson

9
5 3
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

10
4 3
The Chocolate War is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
swag added Robert Cormier

11
4 3
Last Term at Malory Towers is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

12
4 3
Good-bye, Mr. Chips is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
James Hilton

13
3 2
new girls is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Beth Richardson Gutcheon

14
4 4
Old School is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Tobias Wolff

15
3 3
The World of Henry Orient is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

16
3 3
Upper Fourth at Malory Towers is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

17
2 2
The Austere Academy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Daniel Handler

18
4 5
A Christmas Carol is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Charles Dickens

19
3 4
First Term at Malory Towers is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

20
3 4
Third Year at Malory Towers is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

21
3 4
In the Fifth at Malory Towers is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

22
2 3
Prodigy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
David Kalstein

23
2 3
The Last Olympian is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Rick Riordan

24
2 3
The Second Form at Malory Towe... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

25
2 4
The Mists of Avalon is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Marion Zimmer Bradley

26
2 4
Skippy Dies is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Paul Murray

27
1 3
To Serve Them All My Days is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
R. F. Delderfield

28
1 4
The Battle of the Labyrinth is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School

29
1 4
The Lightning Thief is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Rick Riordan

30
1 4
The Sea of Monsters is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Rick Riordan

31
0 3
The rector of Justin is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Louis Auchincloss

32
0 3
The Headmaster's Dilemma is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Louis Auchincloss