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Top Ten Tuesday | Lunch-Time Librarian

5 Books with Unconventional Schools – Top Ten Tuesday

5 Books with Unconventional Schools

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They are great at bringing new top ten themes, and they have a huge list of them well in advance for those bloggers that like to plan super far ahead. You can learn about joining in here. I usually make a list of five instead of ten, just for your knowledge 

This week’s prompt for TTT is books with X setting. Originally I wanted to do another list with some more Canadian settings but it is SO hard to find any. We clearly require more books set in Canada ASAP, I think everything I write will have a clear Canadian setting from now on. Anyhow, I decided to make a list of books with some unconventional schools because I think we can all use a little strange schooling now and then. PS: I didn’t put Harry Potter because it felt too easy, maybe if I was doing a list of ten, but I’m only doing five so I figured I could leave it out.

Carry On by Rainbow RowellCarry On by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

The Unconventional School: I had to mention this one because I read and adored it recently, but also because it’s Watford! Mostly this school made me excited because of how often delicious food was mentioned. Scones with all sorts of butter and tea makes my mouth water.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo IshiguroNever Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

The Unconventional School: This is still one of my favourite literary novels. A lot of the themes and events of this book still stick with me today. I can’t say what makes this school unconventional without spoiling, but it is most definitely a school for special people. Read it! I HIGHLY recommend it.

Nevernight by Jay KristoffNevernight by Jay Kristoff

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

The Unconventional School: ASSASSIN SCHOOL! I haven’t read this yet, but I am highly anticipating it. Also, what could possibly be more unconventional than a school where you’re taught to kill people?

The Magicians by Lev GrossmanThe Magicians by Lev Grossman

Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn’t real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn’t bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they’d imagined.

The Unconventional School: Did you think I could do a list like this without mentioning The Magicians? Because I can’t. It’s a magic university that predominately specializes in learning of both magic and its background.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniThe School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The Unconventional School: I haven’t read this one, but I love the idea of turning the typical idea of good and evil on its head. Also, how hilarious does a class in Uglification sound? I don’t usually read middle grade but this will be one that I’ll be checking out.

What’s a book with an unconventional school that you’ve enjoyed?

Let me know in the comments!


  • Cait @ Paper Fury

    August 20, 2016 at 5:26 AM

    Oh sign me up for an epic school like these!! I particularly would definitely totally go to Watford. And a school for good and evil? YUP. I COULD HANDLE THAT. Ahem. I also love the wizard school in the Demon King series. It’s like right next door to a soldier school too, so that was awesome, eeep!

    • ltlibrarian

      August 22, 2016 at 9:05 AM

      Watford would be good for you, you could use all your writerly words and phrases! I feel like I could only go to the school for good and evil if I was going to get to be in the evil part and plot and stuff. The good side feels like it would get boring.

      Ohhh a wizard school next to a soldier school?? I like it, that sounds like a great set-up for some forbidden interscholastic (thought I made this word up, but it’s a thing?) romance.

  • La La in the Library

    August 16, 2016 at 8:41 PM

    You have sold me on Never Let Me Go! The others are on my tbr list already. My suggestion for an unconventional school setting is the ghost school in Of Breakable Things by A. Lynden Rolland. It is like Hogwarts for spirits (which is what they prefer to be called). They learn things like how to change their clothes ,and proper etiquette for interacting with both normal people and mediums. This was a fab setting choice. 🙂

  • Suzanne

    August 16, 2016 at 7:57 PM

    Great topic! In addition to the titles you’ve mentioned, the first one that popped into my head is Red Rising by Pierce Brown since most of the book takes place in an academy that is basically part Hunger Games/part Game of Thrones. All I kept thinking while I was reading it was “People actually voluntarily go to this school?!” Definitely not conventional, haha!

    • ltlibrarian

      August 17, 2016 at 11:44 AM

      I didn’t know that Red Rising had a school bit! I think I assumed it was just rebelling without school. I really need to read that series… haha maybe in a world where that’s normalized people are alight with the Hunger Games esque situation? I wouldn’t be though…

  • Greg

    August 16, 2016 at 3:02 PM

    I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read set in Canada, so I will agree with you. More please! I loved Fangirl, so Carry On looks interesting, and I’m very intrigued by The Magicians. Thought about trying the show. And School for Good and Evil looks fun.

    Some books I’ve liked with schools are Sanctuary Bay and The Paladin Prophecy (think X-Men at an academy).

    • ltlibrarian

      August 16, 2016 at 4:43 PM

      I so wanted to do 5 more books set in Canada but it’s so super hard to find ones that explicitly state a Canadian setting. I would def do The Magacians show, it’s changed some elements from the book but I still really like it.

      Ohhh X-men at an academy? You’ve got me interested in The Paladin Prophecy.

    • ltlibrarian

      August 16, 2016 at 11:08 AM

      It was so good! I’m intrigued by the other Rainbow Rowell books, we’ll see if I get to one. Never Let Me Go is so good! It’s literary contemporary with a great twist so I think you would like it.


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