What are you reading? 


Willa Wang, Managing Forum Editor

This is a very concise ethnographic research on Bates Students’ reading habits. 

Research Purpose: I always heard my friends at Bates say that they have a lot of reading. The tone they say “I need to finish my readings” is more like complaining instead of enjoying, so I suppose that many students consider “reading” as torture. I sometimes also feel this way. Things we do for classes are called assignments, a word making me feel they are something I have to do instead of what I really want to do—I’m a machine. Therefore, I wonder what books people would enjoy reading. I think it has to be books we read out of classes—one spontaneously reads them. 


Interview—I went to Commons and randomly asked strangers what books they were reading recently out of class.

Survey—I posted an Instagram story and asked my friends what books they have been reading recently outside of class.

Observation—I observed what books Bates students are reading recently out of class.


“What’s the book you read most recently out of classes? When did you read that?”

“The sun also rises by Ernest Hemingway, this summer.”

“A Court of Thorn and Roses (book 1) by Sarah J. Maas, last week.”

“The Rent Collector by Camron Wright, three weeks ago.”

“One Piece. It’s a manga.”

“Frog and Toad.”

“Edogawa Ranpo’s collection, when I was in 12th grade.”

“Norwegian wood by Haruki Murakami, this summer.”

“Momo by Michael Ende, this summer.”

“This is Gonna Hurt by Adam Kay, this summer.”

“I don’t read books.”

“Ano Hi by Haruko Obokata, this June.”

“The Analects of Confucius, every night before I go to sleep.”

“Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, this July.”

“A book about Japanese culture, when I was in high school.”

“To Live(HUO ZHE) by YU Hua, last week.”

“The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond, the first week of September.”

“I haven’t read a book for a while.” 

“Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, last night, and I haven’t finished it yet.”

“A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, this summer.”

“In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, one week ago.”

“The Bad Food Bible, about a month ago.”

“Biography of Resistance, last month.”

“The Song of Achilles.”

“The Song of Achilles, last week.”

“Little Copernicus—a science magazine for kids.”

“Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, yesterday.”

“Gentlemen in Moscow by Amor Towles, a few weeks ago.”

“How Language Began by Daniel L. Everett, today.”

“The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, this summer.”

“The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare, yesterday.”

“The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, still reading.”

“It’s been a long while since I read books last time.”

“Room by Emma Donoghue, two days ago.”

“Norwid poetry, this afternoon.”

“An introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, a week ago.”


I collected 35 samples from 33 students at Bates. This is a small database, but it does show some tendencies of Bates students’ reading habits.

  1. 31 students indicated that the last time they read a book was out of class. Three students (9.1%) honestly answered that they haven’t read a book for a long while—they can’t even remember. Two students (6.1%) read their last books more than one year ago. Eight students (24.2%) read their last books this summer. Four students (12.1%) read their last books in the past month. Six students (18.2%) read books in a week. One student read a book in two days. Seven students (21.2%) are currently reading books.
  2. The Song of Achilles is the most popular book. Three students (9.1%) just read it. 
  3. Eleven students (33.3%) are reading fiction. Among them, four students (12.1%) are reading fantasy novels.
  4. Six students (18.2%) are reading books that belong to academic writings, such as An introduction to the Philosophy of Mind and How Language Began: The Story of Humanity’s Greatest Invention.
  5. Japanese literature and non-fiction is a popular category. Five students (15.2%) are reading books written by Japanese authors. 
  6. Two students (6.1%) are reading children’s books. 

What are you reading now? Do you really enjoy it? If you haven’t read a book for a long time, please grab one and start now! Let’s run fast, but read and think slow.