Critique & Inspiration Education Front Page

Reading Habits of a Global Students Community

Find out what reading habits students have globally.

by Jaganth G. & Thea Pan

Reading is an act of civilization; it’s one of the greatest acts of civilization because it takes the free raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities.

—Ben Okri

Reading is considered to be one of the finest acts of humans that help to shape ourselves to be better individuals. Reading is an act that enables us to connect with our past generations, learn their knowledge and wisdom, thereby enabling us to live a more meaningful life.

The current modern society is believed to have a number of literates larger than ever before: The average literacy rate of human between 15 and above is 86 percent. Though this average is not evenly spread across regions, overall the literacy rate across the world is said to be at its peak in the recent years.

We know that literacy rate increases most significantly through receiving education. Through learning how to read, we grow ourselves on the shoulders of past giants from all walks of life and gain deeper understandings of life, society, ourselves, and the future. If young students are able to develop strong reading habits and skills, they will continue to learn and develop their minds. On the contrary, if students fail to develop reading habits, they are less likely to reach higher growth by stagnating in prejudice and ignorance.  We thought it would be quite interesting to know: How many students inculcate reading as a habit within themselves? What kind of books does the present generation students read? What are the reasons students read? These are some of the questions that made us launch a survey to learn about the reading habits of students across the world.

The objective of this study was to find the reading habit of the student community across the globe  and to understand their preferences and the nature of reading.


We developed a  brief questionnaire towards the objectives and circulated among our student community. The questionnaire was developed in an online questionnaire form, using Google forms and circulated through emails and social media. Students from various parts of the world have participated in the survey and given their responses.


We have formulated some of the interesting insights obtained from the survey below:

  • Overall 76 students from around 12 countries participated in the survey.
  • Students from 20 different universities across the globe have participated in the survey.
  • Of the total participants, a majority of them belonged to the age group between 20-25(around 58 per cent).
  • Female students took part in more number than the male students. Around 53 per cent of the participants were female while around 45 per cent of them were male.

Around 85 per cent of them responded that they have the habit of reading, while only a mere 2 per cent of them said that they do not have a reading habit.

Nature of books students prefer

It is observed that most of the students prefer to read both fiction and non-fiction. Around 65 of the students participated in the survey said that they prefer to read both.  Around 22 per cent of them responded that they prefer to read only non-fiction. Only around 9 per cent of the students said that they prefer to read only fiction.

  • Genres like Literature, History, Philosophy, politics, Biographies, Poetry,  Self Help, Business were the most preferred genres to read by the students.
S.No GenrePercentage
8Religion and Spirituality26.7

Reading Time

On an average most the students read between one to two hours daily.  Around 45 per cent of the students read between 1-2 hours daily where 40 per cent the student read up to one hour daily.

  • With respect to the preferred time of reading: most of them (around 61 per cent) said they like to read during their spare time; while 27 per cent of them said they prefer evening time; and only 9 per cent of them prefer reading in the morning.

Most of the students responded that their purpose of reading is to improve their knowledge, while a significant number of students have also responded that they read for recreation, to change the world, or to feel better.

Influence  of Reading Habit

It is interesting to note that most of the students inculcate the habit of reading by themselves. Around 39 per cent of the students said that they developed the habit of reading by themselves, while 28 per cent of them said their parents, around 16 per cent through their teachers and only 10 per cent through their friends.

  • It is interesting to note that more than teachers and friends, parents play an important role in affecting students’ reading habits.

The Habit of Reading Newspaper

With respect to the habit of reading the newspaper daily, almost an equal percentage of students who prefer and do not prefer to read the newspaper daily.  Around 37 per cent of the students responded that they read the newspaper daily, while around 36 per cent of them prefer not to read it daily, and around one-fourth of them read it sometimes.

  • With respect to gender, only 30 per cent of female students read newspapers daily, while 37 per cent of them do not read the newspaper. On the other hand, around 44 per cent of male students responded that they read the newspaper daily, while around 32 per cent of them said they do not read the newspaper daily.

Reading Format

It is interesting to note that even in our digital media era, most of the students prefer to read hard copy books than E-books. More than three fourth of the students participated in the survey responded that they preferred to read in hard copy while only 17 per cent of them preferred to read E-books.

Favorite Books and Authors

We have selected a some of the books students listed as their favorite choices. Do you see your favorite book(s)here too?

Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another.

– Carl Sagan

Beloved (1987) by Toni Morrison

“I read it for university but discovered how much truth this book contains and how fascinating and scary at the same time history can be. The author really understands how to create this special atmosphere which totally dives you into the story resulting in feeling with the protagonists. The book teaches how far slavery goes. ”

The Crisis of Industrial Society (1970) by Norman Birnbaum

“It gives a profound picture of today’s society of bureaucracy and capitalism, and it’s crisis which is lasting till this day.”

Buda Blues(2000) by Mario Mendoza

“Because I like his critique of the Colombian society (por que me gusta su critica a la sociedad colombiana).”

Thinking Fast and Slow (2011) by Daniel Kahneman

“Showed me just how irrational our thoughts and decisions truly are (even though we think we make rational decisions) and provides me with the vocabulary to identify cognitive biases and correct errors in decision-making. And then Brave New World is tied for the most important book too because it made me reevaluate the kind of society we live in as well as question my own values and lifestyle.”

The Harry Potter series (1997-2007) by JK Rowling

“I call them the books of life; it not only changed my life in many ways but continues to be my guiding force every day. It made me believe in magic. It is an enjoyable read one can never get bored of!”

In the name of the Rose (1980) Umberto Eco

“It opened my critical view on the political intentionality of the catholic institution. By then, religion framed my view on the world even being skeptical to it.”

Sun Tzu (5th C BC) – The Art of War

“The principles can be applied to many different paths. I have found it be very valuable because I have traversed many professional and academic paths and this book has helped me a lot.”

Gendering Caste (2003) by Uma Chakravarthy

“It talks about the failures of the feminist movement in India as being indifferent to the caste question and stresses on the importance of intersectionality. One major takeaway is that gender cannot be talked about without caste and that caste cannot be talked about without gender.”

Khali Zameen Var Akaash by
Dr. Sunilkumar Lavate

“It was a Marathi book. I loved reading that book, it was my second book which I read in Marathi. The book is a perfect amalgamation of every possible written form of piece which has the capacity to inspire you. It’s GREAT.”

Braiding Sweetgrass (2013) by Robin Wall Kimmerer

“It changed my perspective on how close we are with the natural world. I now realize that we humans are kin with all our fellow species.”

Republic of Rethoric (2017) by Abhinav Chandrachud

“He is my favorite author off late. His books are extremely well-researched and informative. He has explored various subjects of law and has managed to bring out underlying themes which changes the way some problems are understood. His book Republic of Rhetoric is a must read for anyone who wants to understand issues surrounding free speech in India.”

Empire of Cotton (2014) by Svend Beckert

“Super interesting global and historical dynamics of the cotton trade and textile industries.”

Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley

“Because it made me reevaluate the kind of society we live in as well as question my own values and lifestyle.”

Here you can see some of the students’ favorite authors to get inspired:

Alejandro Galeano
Amartya Sen
Andreas Caicedo
E.B. White
Gabriel Garcia Marques
Haruki Murakami
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Julia Butterfly Hill
Julio Cortezar
Kiran Desai
Leo Tolstoy
Lu Xun
Marina Abramovic
Mark Twain
Martha Nussbaum
Murray Bookchin
Perumal Murugan
Thich Nhat Hanh
Ursula K. LeGui
Virginia Woolf
Zikai Feng

Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.

– Hermann Hesse

This is our first Global Student Research Initiative report, we will continue to launch new research on topics (eg. climate change) that concern students from around the world and create new knowledge that illuminates the ideas and situations of the global community of critical students. If you are interested in joining our efforts, please get in touch with us (!

About the Authors

Jaganth G

Jaganth G is from India. He studies and works as a research scholar at Tata Institute of Social Science. He also works in the Editorial Board and helped initiated this pilot research, as he plans to conduct more research on other topics with students globally. His goal is to help build up a universal student network where everyone can learn and share knowledge without biases.

Yan (Thea) Pan

I come from China and graduated from the Evergreen State College n 2018. My passion lies in studying the history, systems, and philosophy, and innovative approaches of education, as well as practicing action-oriented, inclusive, and critical pedagogy to build new relationships between people which is different from that of a traditional banking model of education.

3 comments on “Reading Habits of a Global Students Community

  1. Minali

    The above report provides the current status of reading habits among several countries, with a sample analyses of people from different countries. It’s surprising to see that most of the reading habits are inculcated by self, then parental advices, then from teachers. I think books can help one grow with much knowledge to understand many dimensions of the human world and it’s evolution. It’s interesting to know percentage of reading habits in male and female, the nature of books chosen to read, the genre, influence of reading habits and more. It’s an excellent study and very interesting to learn about international details. Thank you Jaganth and Thea Pan for a great report. Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rebecca C.

      Hi Minali,
      I appreciate your comment and echo the thoughts you’ve shared. It’s fascinating to have data from students all over the globe, and I’m glad that our generation seems to be full of avid readers! I hope that by educating ourselves through reading meaningful literature, we can learn from the past and shape the future in a positive and informed way. Accurate knowledge, rather than weapons or unkindness, is the best thing to arm ourselves with in these times, I think.
      Here’s to learning together through books!
      Peace and warmth,

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Reading habit of the student community across the globe | Read Pakistan

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