Summer Reads 2022

Need something new on your nightstand? Looking for a summer escape? Or need your next book club selection? We've got you covered. It's all the pleasures of a reading list, without the book report.

We asked some of Duke's most admired faculty members to contribute to our popular Lifelong Learning summer reading list. Each book includes five questions to consider while reading, direct purchase links, and an introduction video from the author.

5 Questions to Consider While Reading

  1. If the real life Jennie Lee hadn't actually managed to do almost everything she does in the novel, would you believe it was even possible?
  2. What does that tell us about the role of individuals in history?
  3. Could the Duchess of York (later Elizabeth, the queen mum) have the kind of relation (a wholly fictional part of the novel) she had with Jennie Lee?
  4. Is Jennie's relationship with Oswald Mosely (future leader of the 1930's Union of British Fascists) an equal or exploitative one?  
  5. Can we learn things from counterfactual history, like the plot of this novel, about the real outcomes of history--in this case the way the world unfolds into World War Two?  


Alex has been a member of the Duke philosophy department for over 20 years. The author of hundreds of academic papers and a dozen books about the philosophy of science, he began writing more accessible works for general audiences ten years ago, including "The Atheist's Guide to Reality" and "How History Gets Things Wrong: The Neuroscience of our Addiction to Stories." More unusually he is the author of 4 historical novels, including the best seller, "The Girl From Krakow" and its sequel, "In the Shadow of Enigma." Like "The Intrigues of Jennie Lee," all of his novels connect the real dots of history into narratives about strong, resourceful, smart women.