Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Survey of College Summer Reading

Two changes from my days of teaching: 1.) The works are predominantly contemporary and 2.) They are mostly from a narrow ideological band of non-fiction.

Books Younger than the Students 
Common reading committees continue to select almost nothing but books written in the lifetimes of incoming students—and very largely books written since 2010. Out of 349 texts selected for 2016- 217 common readings, 271 (75%) were published between 2010 and 2016, and 327 (94%) have been published between 2000 and the present. Sixteen selections were published in 2016, the very year they were assigned—more than the 13 (3.7%) that were published before 1990.

Most Popular Subjects and Themes 
In 2016-17, we gave the common readings 576 subject labels, divided into 30 subject categories. The most popular subject categories were Civil Rights/Racism/Slavery (74 readings), Crime and Punishment (67 readings), Media/Science/ Technology (34 readings), Immigration (32 readings), and Family Dysfunction/Separation (31 readings).