We are a few days into September now, and that means that the Hogwarts Express has left platform 9 ¾ and all the students have been sorted into their houses – and my letter still hasn’t arrived…bummer.
Anyway, since everyone it’s going back-to-school this month I started to look at my bookshelf and think about all the back to school books I own – or more specifically books with schools in them. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic right now, the same way I was feeling last year, because I’m not going back-to-school, and I’m still not used to it after spending about 17 years of my life as a student. So, while shelf surfing I realized I had quite a few back to school books, so, I thought I would share some of my favorites with you. There are many books with some type of school in them out there, but these are just some of the books that I own and love;
1. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – For all ages
Harry Potter is the boy who lived, but he doesn’t know that – until a mysterious letter arrives for him, delivered by owl, from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at his aunt Petunia and uncle Vernon’s house. Being the most perfectly normal people in Privet Drive, Harry’s uncle and aunt do everything in their power to stop Harry from reading that letter. But on his eleventh birthday a mammoth of a man, Rubeus Hagrid the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts, rescues Harry from his Muggle guardians and tells him he’s a wizard. Harry then enrolls at Hogwarts, learns to play Quidditch and battles a deadly duel or two.
This one is an obvious one. I’m pretty sure most people in the world knows Harry Potter by now in some way. If they haven’t read the books, they have watched the films, played the video games, or they heard about it somewhere. In my opinion it is one of the most famous children books out there. I love this series and I’ve re-read it recently and my obsession with it has come back in full force.
It has the magical school, Hogwarts, which is the most beautiful and magical castle, that every Harry Potter fan has dreamed of going to, but unfortunately it’s fictional ,so, we have to be content with reading the books, with people who are also fictional get to be students there.
2. H.I.V.E. – Higher Institute of Villainous Education by Mark Walden – Middle grade. Age 11+
This book follows the orphan Otto Malpence, a thirteen years old master criminal, and he was chosen to unwillingly attend H.I.V.E. – Higher Institute of Villainous Education. But there’s a small catch – leaving it’s not an option unless the six years training is complete. Otto is left with only one option, escape. With the help of his new friends, he tried to achieve what has never been achieved before, breaking out of H.I.V.E.
This book is a book from my childhood, it was from when I just started getting into reading as well, and it has stayed with me since. It’s a really fun read, and it’s based around a top-secret school of villainy. When I read it was about 12-13 so obviously I thought it was such a bad-ass school.
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – Young Adult. Age 14+
The plot follows the hero-narrator sixteen years old , Holden Caulfield, who goes underground for three days in New York, after being expelled from his prep school in Pennsylvania, Pencey Preparatory Academy. We follow him through New York and navigate with him the challenges of growing up, and dissects the ‘phony’ aspects of society.
I first read ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ while in secondary school, but I only fell in love with it years later. It was the first coming-of-age book I read. It was a book that I had to read, so obviously I did’t enjoy it much for the first time, but years later in college I had to read it again and that’s when I fell in love with it.
If I remember this correctly ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is one of the firsts books that was told from the perspective from a teenager. I’m sure there were other books with teenagers in it or told from their perspective, but the characters in those books were most likely described as children and not teenagers. The term ‘teenager’ or ‘teen age’ started gaining popularity during the 1930’s, and while there have been coming-of-age books published before, they didn’t take the teenagers aspects that we now recognize of being teenager like. On the other hand, I could possibly be completely and absolutely wrong, so, don’t quote me on it.
It is an amazing book though, and really worth the read; it is a book of teenager angst and rebellion – it was censored and banned, because those in charge were scared that it was part of a ‘communist plot’. It really freaked out 1950’s Americans, and that’s reason enough to read it.
4. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – Young Adult. Age 15+
To escape an arranged marriage our main character Ismae, a seventeen years old girl, takes refuge at the St. Mortain convent and is trained as an assassin, a handmaid of Death, and server the god of Death, Mortain. Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, but she struggles with the games of intrigue and treason and the difficult choices that she has to make. How can she be a handmaid of death when her target has stolen her heart?
As someone who loves historical fiction this book was such a great read. I love a good assassin book, and this one being a historical fiction meant that there was no smart gadgets and things to help, so, it had to be done in the old fashioned way- only with a bit of help of the god of Death of course.
5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – New Adult. Age 17+
In this book we follow Cath, who is the biggest Simon Snow fan ever. The Simon Snow books is how her and her twin sister Wren got through their mother leaving. Reading, rereading, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere was their childhood. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has grown away from the fandom and doesn’t want Cath to be her roommate. Cath is on her own for the first tome and completely outside of her comfort zone. Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren by her side? Is she ready to start her adult life? But more importantly is she ready to leave Simon Snow behind and write her own stories?
I fell in love with this book while at university. It made me very excited about writing and reading again. With all the pressures of university I stopped reading for myself, and after reading this book it made my love for reading for reading sake come back again. That reading could help me relax and escape the pressure of becoming an adult for a while. Also, reading about a character at University like I was, was very refreshing, reading about Cath going through the same type of struggles I was going through made me feel like I wasn’t alone in those struggles.
These are some of the books that I think would be fun to read if you’re going back to school or if you’re feelings nostalgic like me, and wanting to go back-to-school again. None of them are insanely heavy reads and can definitely be read any time.
❓ What book do you think it’s the perfect back-to-school book?