Common Reading on the Rise at Top Colleges

PRINCETON, NJ (September 24, 2010)—According to a newly released study from the National Association of Scholars, 93% of top four-year universities now have “common reading” programs. 

Of the top 100 national universities ranked by U.S. News and World Report, NAS found, 93 assign a book as “common reading” either to incoming freshmen or to the entire student body. 

The study, “Back from the Beach: 100 New Books,” is the organization’s updated version of its June 2010 report “Beach Books: What Do Colleges Want Students to Read Outside Class?” It now covers 319 colleges and universities and 184 books.

NAS author Ashley Thorne wrote, “We’ve made over 100 updates and additions, making this new list the most reliable and current resource on American college common reading.”  

The report promotes common reading programs and directs colleges to use NAS’s list of recommended books as a guide in the future. 

“This new list is a great resource,” said Peter Wood, president of the NAS. “From now on, it should be the first stop for colleges and all who are interested in learning which books campuses assign as common reading. We intend to update it regularly.” 

NAS says this is part of its larger mission to track important curricular developments in higher education. 

To learn more about NAS, visit

Ashley Thorne, Director of Communications, NAS: 609-683-7878; 



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