Do you find yourself drawn to dusty archives? Or daydream about pursuing esoteric studies? Are you, perhaps, into all things tweed? If you can say yes to any of these, you might be a fan of Dark academia. Dark academia is currently popular on various social media platforms, often showing pictures of misty university campuses, numerous cups of tea, and, yes, folks clad in tweed. But dark academia is also popular in the book world, and while it is not a new trend, it is NoveList’s newest theme for adult and teen titles.  

Unlike some of our other themes, Dark academia is not tied to a particular location. While Dark academia often takes place in an academic institution, it may also be set in other intellectual spaces such as libraries or museums. It doesn’t feature a specific type of character the way rightful heir and magical girls do. Nor does Dark academia revolve around a particular plot point like, for example, the romance theme fake relationship. And it isn’t confined to a particular genre. It can be found in Gothic fiction, Fantasy, Mysteries, Psychological suspense, Horror, Literary fiction, and more. 

Notable for its unsettling twists and ominous tone, Dark academia delves into the dangers of intellectual curiosity, featuring characters who may encounter conspiracies, secret societies, or deadly competition. As one of my colleagues put it, it’s like a campus novel but with a certain vibe, and that vibe is dark and moody.  

Ready to help a dark academia-loving patron or add to your own TBR list? Just search TH dark academia for all the titles we have compiled. To narrow down the options, I would also recommend adding a genre search. For example, searching TH dark academia AND GX psychological suspense will bring you to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, first published in 1992 but still a popular title among Dark academia enthusiasts. For curated recommended reads lists, you can search UI 454027 for teen titles and UI 454028 for adult titles. Happy reading! 

Download the Dark Academia for Adults flyer here or make your own in LibraryAware

Download the Dark Academia for Teens flyer here or make your own in LibraryAware

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Elizabeth Coleman is a Senior Metadata Librarian for NoveList. She's currently reading The Butcher's Blessing by Ruth Galligan.