To answer your questions in reverse order: I'm sure it is not illegal for a teacher to require 17 book reports during a single school year. However, I do think that is a rather excessive number. I, for one, would not want to grade 17 book reports from each individual student. (I usually required one per grading term, and many students complained that that number was high.) I hope you do realize that the primary reason that teachers assign book reports is because they want to make sure students actually read in their spare time. Many students hate to read and will not pick up a book and read it unless they are forced to do so. Other students choose to use outside resources (such as eNotes) to paraphrase reports so they can avoid reading themselves. Reading is important as a student because the more you read, the better you read: You improve your vocabulary and, hopefully, learn new things from what you have read. If you are planning to go to college, this is needed preparation for your post-high school years. You will be forced to read far more in college than in high school. I remember in one college literature course that I was required to read more than 30 novels outside of the regular course load. In one drama class, I had to read more than 50 plays over and above the regular load. In science and history, it is not uncommon to read 100 pages of material each day. I only wish I had more time to read myself, since it is one of my passions.