20 best books on university – 2023 reading list & recommendations

Are you heading off to college and looking for some guidance and insight into the university experience? Or perhaps you’re a nostalgic graduate, reminiscing about your own university days? Either way, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 best books about university that will take you on a literary journey through the ups and downs, the adventures and misadventures, and the transformative power of higher education. From memoirs to fiction, self-help to satire, these university books are sure to entertain, educate, and inspire.


by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover is a captivating memoir that takes readers on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery and resilience. This remarkable book about university tells the story of Westover, who grows up in a strict and isolated household in rural Idaho, where education is frowned upon. Despite the odds stacked against her, she defies her family’s expectations and embarks on a quest for knowledge. The book on university chronicles her transformation as she escapes her abusive upbringing and enters the unfamiliar world of academia. Through her determination and sheer willpower, Westover not only gains an education, but also finds her voice and identity. Her story is both inspiring and harrowing, reminding us of the power of education to liberate and transform lives.

The Secret History

by Donna Tartt

The Secret History, written by Donna Tartt, is a captivating and enthralling book about college life. Set in a prestigious New England college, the story follows a group of eccentric and intelligent students who become entangled in a dark and twisted secret. With its intricate plot and richly developed characters, this university book delves into themes of friendship, obsession, and the consequences of one’s actions. Tartt’s masterful storytelling keeps readers on the edge of their seats, as the characters navigate the blurred lines between right and wrong. With its atmospheric setting and psychological depth, The Secret History is a mesmerizing exploration of the darker side of academia.

The Idiot

by Elif Batuman

The Idiot by Elif Batuman is a captivating book about the wild and unpredictable journey of a young woman through the maze of university life. This enthralling novel takes readers on a rollercoaster ride filled with awkward encounters, intellectual debates, and the search for one’s true identity. Set against the backdrop of a prestigious university, the protagonist navigates through the complexities of love, friendship, and the pursuit of knowledge. Batuman’s exquisite storytelling and witty writing style make this book on university a must-read for anyone who has ever experienced the exhilarating highs and crushing lows of academic life. Prepare to be transported into a world where the boundaries between reality and imagination blur, and where the quest for self-discovery takes center stage. Embark on this unforgettable journey and discover the true meaning of what it means to be a student in the captivating university book, The Idiot.


by John Williams

Stoner by John Williams is a captivating book on university that delves into the life of William Stoner, an unassuming and ordinary man. Set in the early 20th century, the novel follows Stoner’s journey as he navigates the complexities of academia and the pursuit of knowledge. While initially filled with hope and ambition, Stoner’s life takes unexpected turns as he faces personal and professional challenges.

With its rich prose and introspective narrative, this book about university explores themes of love, passion, and the transformative power of education. As readers delve into Stoner’s world, they will find themselves immersed in a thought-provoking story that is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Williams’ masterful storytelling captures the essence of the human experience, making this university book a must-read for anyone seeking a profound and deeply moving literary journey.


by Vladimir Nabokov

Pnin is a captivating novel by Vladimir Nabokov that takes readers on a delightful journey through the eccentric and comical world of academia. Set in the 1950s, this book revolves around Timofey Pnin, a bumbling Russian professor navigating the confusing landscape of an American college. Pnin’s misadventures and hilarious escapades provide a humorous and satirical exploration of the ‘university book’ genre. Nabokov’s masterful storytelling and sharp wit shine through as he crafts a rich tapestry of characters and situations, showcasing the absurdity and complexity of university life. Pnin is a must-read for anyone seeking a witty and insightful portrayal of the challenges and idiosyncrasies that come with being a part of the academic world.

The Marriage Plot

by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides is a captivating novel that delves into the complexities of love, identity, and literature. Set in the 1980s, this book takes readers on a nostalgic journey through the lives of three university students: Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell. As Madeleine navigates her way through her final year at a prestigious college, she finds herself torn between two very different men. Eugenides skillfully weaves together themes of literature and academia, creating a compelling narrative that explores the complexities of relationships. The Marriage Plot is a thought-provoking exploration of love and self-discovery, making it a must-read for anyone who enjoys a captivating book about university life.

The Art of Fielding

by Chad Harbach

The Art of Fielding, a captivating book on university life, written by Chad Harbach, takes readers on a journey through the ups and downs of college existence. Set in a small Midwestern college, the story revolves around Henry Skrimshander, a gifted shortstop with a remarkable talent for baseball. As Henry’s potential attracts the attention of scouts, his life intertwines with those around him – his roommate, teammates, and the college president. Harbach skillfully weaves together themes of friendship, ambition, and the pressures of success in this compelling book about university. With vivid and relatable characters, the novel explores the challenges and triumphs that come with the pursuit of excellence in a university setting. The Art of Fielding is a must-read for anyone seeking a thought-provoking and emotionally rich story about the complexities of college life.

The Rules of Attraction

by Bret Easton Ellis

Bret Easton Ellis’s The Rules of Attraction is a captivating book about college life that delves into the dark underbelly of university existence. Set on a picturesque campus, this novel explores the intertwined lives of a group of students navigating the complexities of love, lust, and addiction. With its raw and unfiltered portrayal of campus culture, this university book provides a chilling glimpse into the reckless and hedonistic world of young adults. Ellis’s sharp and incisive writing style brings the characters to life, revealing their insecurities, desires, and destructive tendencies. Prepare to be transported into a world where sex, drugs, and parties dominate the college experience. The Rules of Attraction is a compelling and thought-provoking read that will leave you questioning the true nature of university life.

The Name of the Rose

by Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is a captivating book on university life filled with mystery and suspense. Set in the 14th century, the story revolves around the enigmatic Franciscan friar, William of Baskerville, who arrives at a secluded Italian monastery. As he investigates a series of mysterious deaths, he finds himself entangled in a web of religious and political intrigue. Eco’s richly detailed narrative not only explores the dark secrets hidden within the monastery’s walls but also delves into the complex relationships between reason and faith, knowledge and ignorance. This thrilling book about university combines elements of historical fiction, detective fiction, and theological debate, making it a fascinating and thought-provoking read for anyone intrigued by the mysteries of the human mind and the power of knowledge. Prepare to be enthralled by the captivating world of this unforgettable university book.

The Shadow of the Wind

by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Step into the mesmerizing world of Barcelona in the 1940s with Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s captivating novel, The Shadow of the Wind. This literary masterpiece is a captivating book set in the heart of the city, focusing on a young boy named Daniel who discovers a mysterious book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. As he delves deeper into the story, he becomes entangled in a web of secrets, love, and a dark past that haunts the city and its university. With lush prose and vivid descriptions, Zafón immerses readers in a world where the lines between reality and fiction blur, making The Shadow of the Wind a truly unforgettable university book that will leave you craving for more.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart is a captivating coming-of-age novel that delves into the intriguing world of a prestigious boarding school. This university book follows the clever and determined protagonist, Frankie, as she navigates the complex social hierarchy of her elite institution. Frankie’s sharp wit and desire for recognition lead her to challenge the male-dominated secret society that dominates the campus. As she secretly masterminds a series of pranks, Frankie’s rebellion against the establishment becomes a captivating exploration of power, gender dynamics, and the lengths one will go to be heard. With its thought-provoking themes, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks offers readers a glimpse into the hidden world of privilege and the complexities of identity in a university setting.

The Lords of Discipline

by Pat Conroy

The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy is a captivating book about the intense and often brutal world of a military academy in the United States. Set in a prestigious institution resembling a university, this gripping novel delves into the lives of a group of cadets as they navigate through the challenges and complexities of their education. With a blend of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, the story follows these young men as they confront the harsh realities of their training, including hazing rituals, racism, and personal demons. Conroy’s vivid writing and rich character development make The Lords of Discipline a compelling university book that explores themes of honor, identity, and the price of loyalty.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾

by Sue Townsend

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾, written by Sue Townsend, is a hilarious and heartwarming coming-of-age novel that follows the life of Adrian Mole as he navigates the tumultuous world of adolescence in a small English town. This witty and insightful diary captures Adrian’s awkward encounters, first loves, and misadventures with a perfect blend of humor and sensitivity. The book offers a unique glimpse into the world of a teenager, exploring universal themes of identity, family, and the search for meaning. With its relatable protagonist and clever narrative style, this engaging read is a must for anyone looking for a book about the university of life.

The Human Stain

by Philip Roth

The Human Stain, a gripping novel by Philip Roth, delves into the complex world of academia, where secrets and scandals lurk beneath the surface. Set in a small New England town, the story revolves around Coleman Silk, a respected classics professor whose life takes a dramatic turn when he makes an innocent comment that is misconstrued as racist. As Silk’s reputation crumbles, he becomes entangled in a passionate affair with a younger woman, Faunia Farley, who hides her own traumatic past.

Roth’s masterful storytelling explores themes of identity, race, and the destructive power of societal judgment. The Human Stain is not just a book about a university; it is a profound examination of the human condition, with all its complexities and contradictions. Prepare to be captivated by Roth’s lyrical prose and his unflinching exploration of the dark underbelly of academia.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman

by Jill Lepore

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore is a captivating book on university that delves into the fascinating story behind the iconic superhero. Lepore uncovers the intricate connections between Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, and the early feminist movement. With meticulous research, Lepore reveals how Marston’s unconventional personal life, including his polyamorous relationships and fascination with bondage, influenced the creation of the beloved character. This book about university explores not only the origins of Wonder Woman but also the cultural and historical context in which she was born. Lepore’s engaging narrative and insightful analysis make for an enthralling read, shedding light on the complex intersection of gender, power, and heroism. Whether you’re a fan of Wonder Woman or simply interested in the university book that unravels her hidden history, this book is sure to captivate and enlighten.

The Accidental Billionaires

by Ben Mezrich

The Accidental Billionaires, written by Ben Mezrich, is a captivating book about university that delves into the fascinating story behind the creation of Facebook. This riveting tale follows the lives of Harvard University students Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin as they embark on a journey that would ultimately lead them to become billionaires.

In this gripping university book, Mezrich skillfully portrays the intense rivalry, betrayal, and legal battles that unfolded as Zuckerberg and Saverin navigated the world of technology and entrepreneurship. The author’s storytelling prowess captures the essence of the fast-paced and cutthroat environment in which these young geniuses found themselves.

The Accidental Billionaires is a must-read for those intrigued by the inner workings of the tech industry and the remarkable achievements that can arise from a book on university. Mezrich’s vivid narrative leaves readers captivated, as they witness the birth of one of the most influential companies in the world.

The Art of Learning

by Josh Waitzkin

The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin is a captivating book about the journey of a chess prodigy turned martial arts champion. This extraordinary memoir explores the author’s relentless pursuit of mastery in both the intellectual game of chess and the physical discipline of Tai Chi Chuan. Waitzkin’s story is an inspiring testament to the power of resilience, adaptability, and the art of learning itself.

Through his experiences, Waitzkin provides invaluable insights into the process of mastering any skill. His strategies and techniques can be applied not only to chess and martial arts but also to any field of study or endeavor. Whether you’re a student navigating the challenging waters of academia or a professional looking to enhance your performance, this university book is a treasure trove of wisdom that will help you unlock your full potential.

The Gatekeepers

by Jacques Steinberg

The Gatekeepers is an eye-opening book about the college admissions process, delving into the secretive world of university admissions officers. Written by Jacques Steinberg, this captivating book shines a light on the intricate and often mysterious selection process that determines who gets accepted into top-tier universities. Steinberg takes readers on a journey through the minds of these gatekeepers, revealing the strategies, biases, and challenges they face as they review countless applications. This book on university admissions offers a behind-the-scenes look at the immense pressure and responsibility that admissions officers carry as they shape the future of higher education. Whether you’re a prospective student, a parent, or simply curious about the inner workings of the university system, The Gatekeepers is an enlightening read that will leave you with a deeper understanding of the complex world of college admissions.

The Naked Roommate

by Harlan Cohen

The Naked Roommate by Harlan Cohen is the ultimate guide for surviving and thriving in the wild jungle of university life. This eye-opening book about university is packed with practical advice, hilarious stories, and valuable insights that will prepare any student for the rollercoaster ride ahead. From choosing the right roommate and dealing with crazy professors to navigating social life and managing stress, Cohen covers it all. With his witty and relatable writing style, he tackles the challenges and triumphs of university life, leaving no stone unturned. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, this university book is a must-read for anyone who wants to make the most out of their college experience. Get ready to strip away the uncertainty and embrace the naked truth of university life!

The Unlikely Disciple

by Kevin Roose

The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose is a captivating book about university that takes readers on a thought-provoking journey through the unfamiliar world of a conservative Christian college. In this eye-opening memoir, Roose, a Brown University student, immerses himself in the culture of Liberty University, a prominent evangelical institution. With humor and empathy, he explores the conflicts, contradictions, and friendships that arise as he tries to understand a world that feels completely different from his own. This book on university offers a fresh perspective on the complexities of faith, identity, and tolerance, making it a must-read for anyone interested in gaining insight into diverse religious communities and the challenges of navigating unfamiliar terrain.


In conclusion, these 20 books about university are essential reads for anyone embarking on their higher education journey. Whether you are a student, parent, or educator, these books offer valuable insights, advice, and inspiration. From navigating dorm life to managing stress and finding your passion, these books cover a wide range of topics that will help you make the most of your university experience. So, grab a copy of one (or a few) of these books and get ready to embark on a transformative journey through the halls of academia!