Wednesday, September 05, 2012

On Display at Main: “Back to School” Books for Adults

For those of us who long ago left the ivied halls of academe, September can still evoke that sense of anticipation (and perhaps trepidation) associated with “back to school.”  Schools and colleges have been the settings for novelists from Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited) to J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter).  Their stories may be inspirational (John Knowles’s A Separate Peace), comic (Richard Russo’s Straight Man) or dark (Donna Tartt’s The Secret History), but they all recall a time when the cycle of our year began in September rather than in January. There’s no better time than now to curl up with a “school book.”  

New York Times Arts Beat columnist John Williams asked Books reviewers and editors for their favorites (Times Staffers Recommend ‘School Books’) and solicited suggestions from readers.

New York Times staffers picked these favorites:

Sam Tanenhaus, Book Review Editor: The Centaur, John Updike
Janet Maslin, Book Critic: The War Between the Tates,  Alison Lurie
Dwight Garner, Book Critic: The Bourgeois Poet, Karl Jay Shapiro
Jennifer Szalai, Book Review Preview Editor: Project X, Jim Shephard
Parul Sehgal, Book Review Preview Editor: Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Readers' favorites from recent years include:
Skippy Dies, Paul Murray
On Beauty, Zadie Smith

Old School, Tobias WolffSpecial Topics in Calamity Physics, Marissa Pessl

We’ve gathered the Times staff and readers' picks and added our own favorites for a display in General Collections sure to recall your own school days.

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