It can form an unnecessary social stigma to think like this.
The underlying thinking could be that, as a monk, one shouldn’t waste time reading.
Whereas not everyone can be motivated to read as a lay person.
As a lay person, there’s no rule to prevent one from indulging in games, TV shows etc.
Whereas there’s plenty of time as a monk to read, and some people ordain young, so they have to read as a monk in order to be able to be proficient in the Dhamma.
It’s up to the teacher of the monk to train the monks, up to the individual monks to see how much time they need for meditation, reading, memorising chants etc.
@Benjamin other than the Tipitaka itself, many books by forest monastics, especially Ajahn Brahm. And then read academic books on Buddhism, like history of Buddhism, how it split into different sects, philosophy of Buddhism, social philosophy of Buddhism, books by Ven. Analayo etc. Mahayana books, books by famous authors like Thinh Nhat Hanh, Dalai Lama, etc. Books by secular people, in order to understand how secular Buddhist thinks, so that one can know how to converse with them, bring them gently into the right view.
Rebirth and afterlife study cases, by Ian Stevenson, Francis Story, Christ Carter, etc.
Psychic phenomenon research books by Dean Radin.
Religion books for when as a monk, you’re invited to interfaith conversations. At least you can see the commonalities between religions. Books by Karen Armstrong is especially good in this.
Philosophy books, so that you can compare and contrast buddhist philosophy with other kinds of philosophy, can give talks which appeals to those of philosophical background.
@Ratana, there’s so many things to read, that if one puts as a condition: I must finish all these before ordaining, one might ordain quite late in life. So, better not think like that.
Tip, for faster reading, especially to get you to push through the boring parts of a non-fiction book, use audiobooks, or read out loud features on many softwares, on phones, kindle, PC, Mac etc. Train to be able to listen at times 2 or 2.5 speed, then you’ll speed through books quite fast. It also trains you to be mindful so as not to miss out too much info.
The one thing I would agree if you want, is to get a degree in Buddhism, from Buddhist university before ordaining. As I heard the student monk’s Vinaya there are generally poor, so it might have some incentive to get it done with as a lay person. However, it’s absolutely unnecessary to have a degree in Buddhist studies, just get their syllabus, read up on your own.