UC Berkeley surveyed what students have been reading over a 20-year period, and the results are interesting. The top books are: 1987 – The Color Purple, 1997 – The Fountainhead, and 2007 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Ayn Rand’s book was actually #2 in 1987 and has disappeared from 2007’s top 10, a list which is rife with J.K. Rowling titles. Fortunately, some oldies-but-goodies have consistently made the grade, including Jane Austen, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The article summarizes the findings this way:
What conclusions can we draw from these admittedly unscientific surveys? Student do manage to read for enjoyment, and they read widely. Best seller lists (and Oprah?) influence their reading, but clearly they have strong wills of their own. Can we explain Madame Bovary, Our Man in Havana, All Quiet on the Western Front, Great Expectations, and The Screwtape Letters as recreational reading among college students? No, but we can be thankful.
Amen to that!