I love this book! I'm always looking for something new to read, but I'm a bit bored with what frequently passes for modern fiction (don't get me wrong, some is excellent, but a great deal more is meh). I can always open this book and find a suggestion one one of these lists more to my liking. A few of the lists have some surprising content. As far as it's original intent, I think that's a minor use at best, because college reading lists change so much, and many of the responding institutions have provided the lists they use in class rather than a list they would like to see freshman have as a pre-college background. However, the sample essay questions sprinkled throughout the pages are wonderful.
I recently became interested in reading as many "great" books as possible - but where to start? This book lists not only the books recommended for reading at several colleges, but also averages the scores to produce a list of the top 100 recommended books for college bound students. Obviously, not a complete list by any means but a good starting point on your trip of reading exploration.
Many different universities and colleges provided the author with the names of works they recommend or use in first-year English classes. I remember seeing the first edition of this book when I was in high school and falling madly in love with it. Unfortunately, it was at the public library and someone lost it a month after I checked it out. I am an obsessive list-maker and this adds fuel to the fire of my two passions, lists and literature. Not all the books listed in here are predictable, canonical works, either. I'm surprised how many are out-of-print, making the search for great reading material even more fun. One gripe: no comprehensive index. I may just make my own.
If the problem is that your child doesn't like to read for pleasure, then you're not going to get that child to read this book and take the suggestions on what else to read. My copy is still in like-new condition.