Some instructors, like Dr. Giddens (GREAT teacher, btw) will assign relevant material to read as preparation. By far, the book we used the most was the MedSurg book, Lewis. (Dr. Giddens and someone else at UNM were among the contributing authors of that one). I still find Lewis to be a good book to have around.
Looking at my shelf, I realize I've hardly cracked the bindings on the other books. The Spirit Catches You And Then You Fall Down is a narrative, and we were required to read the whole thing in a short time for discussion and analysis. The book was good, but the class was stupid. I don't think I read any of the other stuff for that class. My wife read that one during FP residency, and agreed it was eye-opening. The Skills and Techniques book is kind of useful. The community nursing books were sort of unique. I really did read some of them as assigned, though for the most part I got away without it. The nursing specialties books (Geriatrics, Peds, Psych, etc.) all had fairly short sections that needed reference during particular segments of the program. I don't think I ever opened the Psych or Aging texts; but Maternal-Newborn and the Child Health books I needed more. Even so, Lewis remained the book I had to read most.
The program was very writing intensive. That required having the assigned materials available somehow for the writing assignments. BTW, they are insanely pedantic about APA format on all writing; or were. Some of us pointed out we had already been through college and grad school, and never seen anything like this attitude. I tried using the APA manual carefully; but finally gave up and sacrificed points ahead of time instead of trying to please them on this. I'm quite sure that some of the profs didn't know APA well themselves, and didn't write any better than me; and I wasn't willing to go crazy over it. A colleague at work recently finished her MSN at UNM. She reports similar craziness over APA formatting with her advisor. This was a common problem. Some of the profs were far more concerned with form over good education.
Like you, I'm one of those students that always managed to do pretty well without reading the texts. Lectures and handouts covered so much of what was really required. It was hard to anticipate during Nursing school, though. Also, during clinicals some of the books were needed or useful for assigned presentations or discussions.
Something you might consider is forming a coop with a few other students and sharing texts. Or, if you live near UNM, just plan on using the library alot. During med school there, my wife practically lived at the library. Saved mucho dineros. To this day I tell her that there is a plaque with her name on it marking the spot where she always sat.
Sorry I can't give a more black and white answer. I sort of floated through the program, and still got good grades. What's more, they were trying to tweak the bugs out of the new curriculum when we left. Since you are also a second degree student, you probably won't find it to be rocket science.