The NAS published Beach Books 2016–2017: What Do Colleges and Universities Want Students to Read Outside Class? on May 24, 2017. 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 focuses on the administrative structure of common reading programs that hard-wires progressive book selections, and makes detailed suggestions for administrative reforms.

Our study of common readings covers 348 colleges and universities for the academic year 2016–2017.

Previous Editions: