Top Five Tuesday: Books Set At School

The topic, methinks, does what it says on the tin.

Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, and is now being hosted @ Meeghan Reads

1. Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey

This tale of Valdemar centres on Lavan, a young boy who starts at one school and goes to another. The first school is the sort of school beloved of American dramas where the Lesser-Souled Bully roams free in its natural habitat. Luckily for Lavan, he gets to go somewhere nice – the Collegium! I do like Lackey’s school for the Heralds, her order of altruistic heroes, and this is a good example of it. Also one of her better Valdemars.

2. Sanford on Tour by Rob Childs

This is a kid’s book all about a school’s football team going on tour, which as a football obsessed kid was exactly what I wanted to read. I always thought it terribly unfair that my school didn’t do competitive sport and the one time a team from my year got to do something like that, it was the other class only. Anyway, Childs had an engaging easy style, with vivid characters and exciting matches. I still remember the travails of Gary Clarke well. And this book is the only one I could think of that captured something vital to school – the school trip.

3. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

The best type of schools are those that let you hit people. I accept there’s a lot of things wrong with that, particularly if the people getting hit didn’t volunteer, but such is how I am. Alanna, the heroine of this classic YA adventure, also agrees. She wants to go to knight school so she can be a knight. It’s a very charming coming of age story that is still worth picking up today.

4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre

Most of the book – the book being arguably the most famous spy novel of its time, maybe all time – doesn’t take place at a school. But Le Carre decided the best way to ease readers into the story was to start in a school, and the plot arc related to it helps shine a light on both the mystery in front of George Smiley, and the book’s theme of betrayal. Plus, in a lot of ways, Smiley’s rummaging through the history of an institution that shaped him does feel rather scholastic. So good enough for me!

5. The Compleet Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans

Any fule knos that British skools hav many traits that make them topp fun to read about even if they have many fules who are uterly wet and weeds and should be discarded. That Molesworth is written entirely in such language should not detract from its claim to maybe the greatest work of fiction about the public school system (up there with Jennings and Tom Brown’s School Days), and utterly brilliant for anyone who enjoys small boys behaving peculiarly.

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4 thoughts on “Top Five Tuesday: Books Set At School

  1. If you’re into espionage and loved Tinker Tailor do not miss out on an unusually thrilling autobiography entitled Beyond Enkription (misspelt on purpose) by Bill Fairclough. It’s a must read for espionage cognoscenti; indeed Fairclough and le Carré once discussed a collaboration but to no avail. The fact based narrative is set in 1974 about a British accountant working in London, Nassau and Port au Prince who unwittingly works for MI6 and later the CIA.

    It’s a compelling read but whatever you do, don’t just surf through the prologue as I did. Also, if like me you could only just stomach the film Jaws don’t be put off by the passing savagery of the first chapter. I finished this huge book in two sittings and a week or so later read it again.

    To get the most out of it try researching the real events behind it on the web. There is a lot out there once you start digging but as a minimum include a half hour read of one of the author’s bios which don’t include spoilers. You’ll soon feel like you know his family. After my first reading I did even more research and kept on unravelling increasingly enthralling material that drove me to reread the book. My second reading was richly rewarded and just as captivating as my first.

    If you like raw or noir espionage thrillers you’ll love it. Len Deighton and Mick Herron could be forgiven for thinking they co-wrote it. Atmospherically it’s reminiscent of Ted Lewis’ Get Carter of Michael Caine fame. If anyone ever makes a film based on Beyond Enkription they’ll only have themselves to blame if it doesn’t go down in history as a classic espionage thriller.

    Liked by 1 person

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