A Void of “Great Books” in College

A Void of “Great Books” in College and Why We Should Care

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The idea of the “Great Books” started with renowned writer Mathew Arnold. He lived in the mid-years of the 19th century. In the 19th century, the USA and Britain believed in books. There was the notion that studying should be based on what has been thought and spoken. 

Great thoughts and speeches were hidden in books. If one studied them, they would gain great knowledge. This belief encouraged learners to dig deeper into books. They formed the base for building culture and knowledge. This is how the idea of great books became firmly established. 

What happens to century-old books today?

century-old books

Arnold believed that books were the remedy to overcome assumptions. He believed that generations that didn’t value books were ill-informed. Their base of knowledge was not deep-rooted. They needed to read what was written to help them focus on the future. 

The current generation then had first to look back to history. From that perspective, they needed to look into the present. They could then look into the future based on both the past and the present. This was only possible through studying books. They had to read books written in the past and the present. This is how the 19th century society believed in great books. Today’s generation wants to buy the top inspirational books

Unfortunately, they ignore what the authors of the past wrote. Their inspirations could mean a lot to today’s generation. The century-old books lie in archives. Those on library shelves lay there with no one reading them.

Culture is built on the roots of the past. From that point, it evolves into the present and then the future. This is what education has been based upon all along. Studying what is written gives the reader a new perspective. A college student can learn a lot from what has been written. Many old-time books are available in libraries. When looking for quality essays, you can find free Catcher in the Rye essays on EduZaurus. A large collection of great essay examples on famous books are available on the website, and students find them highly valuable.

University students do not read great books

The Real World of The College conducted a study about a decade ago. They aimed to investigate if students read great books. Their sample size was 2000 individuals. Half of it targeted students. The other half targets faculty, administrators, parents, and trustees. The interviews were conducted across ten colleges and universities. 

One of the key questions was about books. It required the participant to point to one book they would give to a graduand. 20 percent of the students had no idea of any book. About half said they had not read books. Another half said they had no idea. About 2 percent said the books available were too many. Some said they were not reading at all. 

Another question asked gave them a different option. They were free to name a movie or TV series if naming a book was a problem. It was super easy naming several. This was the conclusion of the survey. Great books are rarely mentioned in universities. 

A lot of self-help and personal development books were named. Most of the books named were high school books. The difference was thin between books named by freshers and students in their final year. 

From the survey, great books are rarely read. They might still be there on the shelves. However, the void grows wider each year. Most of them have already been removed from bookshelves. 

Why should we care?

Today’s society cannot ignore what was written in the past. Everything that happens today has a foundation in the past. The simple technology of the 18th century is what has developed into today’s technology. 

In his book “Culture and Anarchy,” Matthew Arnold quotes thus: “Culture is the love and study of perfection.” The 1869 book shows that to understand today, you must first look into yesterday. Look at what has been written and spoken. 

Students rarely read books such as “The Catcher in the Rye.” Published in 1951, the book narrates a boy who gets expelled from prep school. He goes finding for the truth. It is time that everyone cares about the great books. The knowledge contained in them could make a difference in students and society. 


The past generations invested time in reading. They valued information contained in the great books. Today’s generation is different. They focus more on self-improvement books. Great writers of the past wrote useful literature. They advised readers to look into the past before looking into the present. People should care today that the libraries are void of great books. When they are lacking on the shelves, the current generation is denied the knowledge of the past. 

Also Read: A Merger May Cause An Increase In The Price Of Textbooks In The US



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