Happy back-to-school season! The return of yellow buses, kids with backpacks, and the harried school supply section at Target has me thinking about my own school days. The scent of crayons and rubber cement in elementary school. The first date butterflies and Friday night lights of high school. The coed dorms and all-night study sessions of my college days. A mixed bag to be sure, but no one can argue the significance of those years. We may not be able to relive the good memories (and forget the bad), but the following books offer us a chance to reminisce about the good old days — or thank our lucky stars that they’re over!

 If you spent time in detention, try One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus.

Five students are sent to detention in McManus’s “flat-out addictive” (RT Book Reviews) YA thriller, but only four make it out alive. With a breakneck pace and enough twists to keep the pages racing by, One of Us Is Lying is also full of solid characterization that bends stereotypes. Nostalgic and just plain fun, pick this one up before you binge the series on Peacock.

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 If you had a memorable teacher, pick up How to Stop Time by Matt Haig.

Tom Hazard isn’t immortal, but he might as well be. He’s been alive for over 400 years — but has spent the majority of those centuries isolated and alone. Now, reinventing himself as a high school history teacher, Tom’s past and present collide as he relives his personal history through the eyes of his students. Benedict Cumberbatch will star in the upcoming movie, so you can picture him as Tom while you’re reading. You’re welcome.

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 If you wish your college had a secret society, you’ll love Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo.

Galaxy “Alex” Stern isn’t just a college freshman, she’s the lone survivor of a horrific multiple homicide and an unlikely monitor of Yale’s secret societies. Her full-ride scholarship depends on her ability to keep tabs on the houses, but their occult activities quickly spin out of control and put Alex — and those she loves — in danger. A dark and complex supernatural thriller, Ninth House will take you to a fantastical underground at one of the most prestigious universities in the United States.

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 If your school experience was unconventional, you’ll find kindred spirits in The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune.

Last year’s feel-good fantasy is a heartwarming gem that also makes me wish I had Arthur Parnassus as a teacher. When Linus Baker, a caseworker with the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, is sent to Marsays Island Orphanage to make sure everything is on the up-and-up, he doesn’t expect to fall in love with the unusual (and extraordinary!) people who populate it and the life they have built there. Filled with warmth and compassion, The House in the Cerulean Sea also offers a glimpse of the sort of fun, hands-on, child-centric schooling that I wish we could all experience.

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 If your college years were filled with secrets, you’ll enjoy Where She Went by Kelly Simmons.

When Maggie O’Farrell’s daughter, Emma, goes off to college, Maggie can’t help but become “one of those” moms: a nervous, nagging empty-nester. She knows she has to back off, but just when she’s ready to let go a bit, Emma disappears. As Maggie investigates her daughter’s life and the clues begin to pile up, nothing seems to make sense. An empty dorm room, sinister dorm mates, a mysterious boyfriend … Where She Went is a page-turner set on a college campus that will have you second-guessing your own coed days. (Read Ann Garvin’s BookTrib review here.)

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 If you want a book to read aloud with the school-aged children in your life, everyone will enjoy Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Is there anyone who hasn’t read Wonder? It should be required reading for, well, anyone and everyone. The story of August “Auggie” Pullman, an ordinary kid with an extraordinary face, is sure to make you laugh and cry — and believe all over again in the importance of kindness and compassion. Auggie’s story about life as a fifth grader with a facial irregularity in a new school is simply magical and the perfect book to read aloud for children and adults of all ages.

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