ABSTRACT: Reading in a second language (L2) is a dynamic process that involves the interplay of complex factors. This study investigated the effects of readers' gender, topic familiarity, enjoyment, and interest on second language reading. During two different class periods, 86 learners of intermediate Spanish at the university level completed: (1) a reading passage (a different passage each day), (2) a written recall comprehension task, and (3) a questionnaire. The reading passages were taken from authentic short stories often used for this level of language instruction. The findings suggested that in addition to linguistic factors that impede successful reading comprehension, other variables such as gender, passage content, and topic familiarity may increase the L2 reader's burden. Enjoyment and interest mattered little at this level of instruction. The predicted variables did not completely explain the gender differences in reading comprehension of the intermediate-level passage topics; however, the study results indicated that when using authentic texts, instructors should incorporate prereading activities that activate learners' existing knowledge.