The NAS published Beach Books 2017–2018: What Do Colleges and Universities Want Students to Read Outside Class? on October 2, 2018. The main author is David Randall. We invite readers to share responses in the comments section or in article submissions via email to
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Hundreds of American colleges and universities assign a summer reading to entering freshmen—usually one book, which is often un-academic and politically progressive. For many students, this is the only book they will read in common with their classmates. Colleges rarely assign classic texts: the common reading genre is parochial, contemporary, and progressive. This year, Beach Books provides eleven years of data about common reading programs, from 2007 to 2017, and makes detailed suggestions for administrative reforms.

Our study of common readings covers 481 colleges and universities for the academic year 2017–2018. For the entire eleven years, it provides data on 732 colleges, 1,664 individual texts, and 4,754 assignments.

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