With the first volume published in 1925 and the second in 1932, The Common Reader brings together a collection of Woolf's critical essays and articles, in total forty entries covering historical and contemporary authors and themes. By no means is this a complete collection of her critical work – she was reviewing in established magazines well before she'd published any of her own work – but it is representative of her views at the height of her abilities.
It's also a reflection of Woolf's working life. By all accounts, she wrote for publication only at certain times of the day – usually in the morning – but she also put a considerable amount of time aside to read, typically amassing a pile of intended volumes or immersing herself in a single author for a few days at a time. Unfortunately, the use of the word 'common' in the title served to open her up for subsequent criticism because by and large these are subjects not especially appealing to the common man or woman.