In Beach Books 2014-2016: What Do Colleges and Universities Want Students to Read Outside Class? , the National Association of Scholars complains that the “common reading genre is parochial, contemporary, commercial, optimistic, juvenile, obsessed with suffering, and progressive.”
Most assignments were contemporary memoirs and popular nonfiction that affirmed progressive sentiments about illegal immigration, racial identity, global warming, unjust incarcerations, gay, lesbian, and transgender life, exaggerated fears of terrorism, anti-corporate paranoia, affirmative action, recycling, sexism, or wealth inequality.
. . . Almost no colleges assigned classic fiction or nonfiction, good modern literature, or history.
Easy-to-read books are favored.
It includes Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance (tedious and weird), Cather’s Death Comes to the Archbishop (it didn’t come soon enough for me) and O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night (acutely depressing). But there are inspired choices: Flatland, Lucky Jim, Voyage of the Beagle, Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, The Double Helix, Darkness at Noon and Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography.