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. In a celebrated address, the Nigerian writer Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche cautions against “the dangers of a single story” that readers demand of authors from the non-West. How does Brothers both conform to and challenge the presumed “single story” of modern China? 
  2. In contrast to the English edition, which was published in a single volume, the original Chinese version of Brothers was originally published in two volumes in consecutive years, separating the story of Baldy Li and Song Gang’s childhood from their later-in-life adventures. Do you think these different publication strategies would affect the way the reader understands the protagonists’ story?
  3. In a conversation about writing Brothers, Yu Hua said that he was tired of the cliché of the modern Chinese writer as an all-knowing expert—a doctor, diagnosing the ills of society. “I wanted to write as the mad patient in need of a cure,” he said. What do you think Yu Hua means, and how does this logic play out in the telling of Brothers?
  4. Brothers in some ways is about parents and children, and the lengths to which parents will go to protect their children from a world gone mad. For instance, Li Lan, the boys’ mother, makes some extreme choices throughout the story. Are her actions comprehensible?
  5. Beginning with the very first sentence, the novel repeatedly refers to “our Liu Town.” How do you understand this collective first-person “we/us” in the novel?

Biography

Eileen Cheng-yin Chow and Carlos Rojas teach modern Chinese cultural studies at Duke, in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Eileen is the Director of Graduate Studies of Duke’s Master’s Program in East Asian Studies, and Carlos is the founding co-director of the Humanities Research Center at DKU. In addition to translating Yu Hua’s Brothers, their other co-productions include two co-edited volumes (Rethinking Chinese Popular Culture: Cannibalizations of the Canon and The Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Cinemas); they are also co-editors of the ongoing Sinotheory book series for Duke University Press; and in 2015, they co-founded Story Lab at Duke. They also share three kids, ages 23, 17, and 12.


5 Questions to Consider While Reading

  1. What is the significance of the title "Double Trio"?
  2. What is the significance of the title "Tej Bet"?
  3. What is the significance of the title "So's Notice"?
  4. What is the significance of the title "Nerve Church"?
  5. Who comprise the "we" referred to throughout DOUBLE TRIO?

Biography

Nathaniel Mackey was born in Miami, Florida, in 1947, and grew up, from age four, in California. He received a B.A. from Princeton University in 1969 and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1975. He is the author of ongoing prose work, eleven chapbooks of poetry, and a three-volume boxed set collection of poetry, Double Trio: Tej Bet, So’s Notice, Nerve Church (New Directions, 2021). He is editor of the literary magazine Hambone, co-editor of the anthology Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose (Coffee House Press, 1993), and co-editor of the anthology Resist Much / Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Dispatches Editions/Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2017).
 
His awards and honors include the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry from the Beinecke Library at Yale University in 2015, the William B. Hart Residency in Poetry at the American Academy in Rome in 2016, the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Poetry Prize from the Library of Congress in 2017, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2018. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, and teaches at Duke University, where he is the Reynolds Price Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing.


5 Questions to Consider While Reading

  1. Proust had his madeleines; Margaret has her diaries; most of us have snapshots and videos - how is it that we recall our childhoods and is there such a thing as a "true story" of our early lives?
  2. Some aspects of Margaret's family and social life are specific to the 1970s. Are there issues that still resonate for teenagers today?
  3. Margaret's keen watchfulness translated into keeping diaries from an early are. Is Margaret a typical adolescent in this regard or is she unusual? Is there such a thing as an autobiographical impulse that we all share?
  4. Margaret idolizes her cousin Angela and notes "it's scary how much I love her." Yet Margaret and Angela become astranged as adults. Are there relationships in your own life that resemble this one?
  5. Margaret's world is populated by a number of vivid characters - from her irrespressible mother and practical father to her trusted friend Tommy and her nemesis at school, the cheerleader Bonnie Dell. How does Margaret's world compare to your own as a teenager?

Biography

Margaret Sartor's eight books include: Where We Find Ourselves: The Photographs of Hugh Mangum 1897–1922 (2019), William Gedney: Only the Lonely, 1955-1984 (2017), What Was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney (1999), and the New York Times best-selling memoir Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets, and Growing up in the 1970s (2006). Sartor’s photographs have been exhibited widely and appeared in numerous publications, including: In Their Mother’s Eyes: Women Photographers and Their Children (2001), A New Life: Stories and Photographs from the Suburban South (1996), Aperture, DoubleTake, Esquire, and The New Yorker. Her work is in permanent collections such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Ogden Museum of Art, and the North Carolina Museum of Art. She lives with her husband, Duke Professor Emeritus Alex Harris, in Durham, NC.


Race, Gender, and Political Representation: Toward a More Intersectional Approach

5 Questions to Consider While Reading

  1. How do race and gender affect who gets elected, as well as who and what interests are represented in governing institutions?
  2. Do African American women legislators and Latina legislators make contributions to policymaking that are distinct from the contributions made by White women, White men, African American men, and Latino men?
  3. If women of color representatives make distinctive contributions and represent differently than other legislators, should special efforts be made to ensure that women of color are elected?
  4. Why are African American women and Latina legislators the primary advocates for members of marginalized groups? 

Biography

Kerry L. Haynie is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Professor of African and African American Studies, and a former Chair of the Academic Council. On July 1, 2022, he will begin a 3-year term as Dean of the Social Sciences for Duke's Trinity Colleges of Arts and Sciences.

Haynie’s research examines how the underlying theories, structures, and practices of American political institutions affect African Americans’ and women’s efforts to organize and influence the political system. His publications include African American Legislators in the American States; New Race Politics in America: Understanding Minority and Immigrant Voting (co-edited with Jane Junn), The Encyclopedia of Minorities in American Politics, Volume I: African Americans and Asian Americans; The Encyclopedia of Minorities in American Politics, Volume II: Hispanic Americans and Native Americans; and Race, Gender, and Legislative Representation: Toward a More Intersectional Approach (with Beth Reingold and Kirsten Widner), winner of the 2021 Richard F. Fenno, Jr. Prize from the American Political Science Association for the best book in legislative studies.


5 Questions to Consider While Reading

  1. What are common stereotypes about unhoused people?
  2. How does Shelter Theology challenge those stereotypes?
  3. When assessing religious beliefs, how important is it to pay attention to how they function to offer hope, purpose, or some other positive good?
  4. How important is to get to know an unhoused person as a peer and not as someone to be fixed?
  5. Are there places in your community where people can form friendships with unhoused people?

Biography

Susan J Dunlap, Ph.D. is a Consulting Professor of Pastoral Theology at Duke Divinity School. In addition, she is the coordinator of the M.Div./M.S.W. dual degree program that the Divinity School shares with the University of North Carolina. Her teaching has been in the area of care of the sick and care for the bereaved. She also teaches two courses that integrate ministry and social work along with a colleague from UNC School of Social Work. She is an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) pastor and has served churches in both the Triangle area and Baltimore, MD. In Baltimore she was the pastor of a small church for four years before returning to school for a Th.M. from Duke and a Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. She has been on the Strategy Team of a community organizing group, Durham CAN, and serves on the board of the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham, where she also co-leads a grief group for family members of people who have died violently. She also serves as a volunteer chaplain at Urban Ministries of Durham. She is the author of three books, Counseling Depressed Women (1997), Caring Cultures: How Congregations Respond to the Sick (2009), and Shelter Theology: The Religious Lives of People Without Homes (2021). She lives in Durham with her husband, Dr. Prasad Kasibhatla, who teaches in the Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.


5 Questions to Consider While Reading

  1. Frank, facing an untreatable eye disorder, decided to enroll in a painful clinical trial of an unproven drug. Would you have?
  2. What misimpressions did you have, before reading "The Beauty of Dusk," about blind people?
  3. Are you more trusting of, and deferential toward, doctors than you should be?
  4. What main contribution do you think Regan, Frank's dog, made to his perserverance?
  5. If you were told you might go blind, which aspects of Frank's reaction to that news would you want to emulate and which not?

Biography

Frank Bruni has been a prominent journalist for more than three decades, including more than twenty-five years at The New York Times, the last ten of them as a nationally renowned op-ed columnist who appeared frequently as a television commentator. He was also a White House correspondent for the Times, its Rome bureau chief, and, for five years, its chief restaurant critic. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers. In July 2021, he became a full professor at Duke University, teaching media-oriented classes in the school of public policy. He continues to write his popular weekly newsletter for the Times and to produce occasional essays as one of the newspaper’s official Contributing Opinion Writers


5 Questions to Consider While Reading

  1. What does it mean to be a godparent?
  2. What is a virtue?
  3. What is the relation between friendship and the virtue?
  4. What politics informs these letters?

Biography

Stanley Hauerwas has sought to recover the significance of the virtues for understanding the nature of the Christian life. This search has led him to emphasize the importance of the church, as well as narrative for understanding Christian existence. His work cuts across disciplinary lines as he is in conversation with systematic theology, philosophical theology and ethics, political theory, as well as the philosophy of social science and medical ethics. He was named "America’s Best Theologian" by Time magazine in 2001. Dr. Hauerwas, who holds a joint appointment in Duke Law School, delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectureship at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland in 2001.


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?  

Biography

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.


5 Questions to Consider While Reading

  1. What is the origin story of your career change or business idea - the story that reveals to the world who you are and why your launch matters?
  2. If you are launching in pursuit of becoming your best self - what is the risk?
  3. What is a failure in your life - failure defined as an outcome different than what you had hoped for and what lesson did you learn from it?  Can you reframe that failure as a transformative life lesson?
  4. Who are the members of your tribe that you can invite to invest in your success and give you the courage, the truth, and the key data to evolve your launch idea?
  5. Imagine it's a year after you've launched - what would you want to tell your current self about this moment in time?

Biography

Sanyin Siang's mission is to enable greatness in others. She is an educator, board director, investor, and speaker. Sanyin helps leaders optimize their unique strengths and build super teams for next-level success. She works with Boards, CEOs, Olympians, tech founders, and students. Recognized by Thinkers50 as the World’s #1 Leadership Coach and one of the world’s 50 top management thinkers, Sanyin brings a unique combination of practitioner sensibility, academic grounding, and patterns for leadership success drawn from work with leaders across a diversity of sectors and industries. She leverages data analysis to pinpoint key levers and makes ideas actionable and sticky through storytelling. She created the biweekly newsletter - Leadership Playbook: Unleashing Your Superpowers https://leadershipplaybook.substack.com to help readers be their best selves. Sanyin leads Duke University's Coach K Leadership and Ethics Center at the Fuqua School of Business. She also holds appointments as professor at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering and a Faculty Fellow at Duke Divinity School.


5 Questions to Consider While Reading

  1. Many parents say that when their first child is born they believe in nurture, but after their second child is born they believe in nature. What do you believe? And why? 
  2. The book describes research that works like a “data pantry” for which thousands of people are studied closely all their lives starting from birth, and psychology professors visit the pantry to test their ideas. What’s good about this kind of science, and what’s risky?
  3. When reading the book’s chapters, can you imagine yourself as one of the study participants who have been studied from birth to midlife? Would you feel proud, or worried? Why? 
  4. The book tells the story of researchers who have worked together for decades. How are friendships among the researchers important for project success?
  5. The Origins of You shows that data collected as young as age three can predict how people behave as adults. But prediction is not perfect. Why is that important? 

Biography

Dr. Avshalom Caspi’s appointments include the Edward M. Arnett Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University and Professor of Personality Development, King's College, London. Caspi’s research spans the fields of psychology, epidemiology, and genetics. His work is concerned with three questions. (1) How do childhood experiences shape aging trajectories?, (2) How do mental health problems unfold across and shape the life course?, and (3) What are the best ways to assess and measure accelerated aging? Caspi is a recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association and the Rema Lapouse Award for Significant Contributions to the Scientific Understanding of Epidemiology and Control of Mental Disorders from the American Public Health Association. Dr. Caspi received his PhD in developmental psychology at Cornell University. He served on the faculty at Harvard and the University of Wisconsin before moving to London and then Duke. Just as soon as the world is safe and sane again, he will return to his travels, and for now he’s honing his photography and cooking and learning about farming. Learn more at www.moffittcaspi.com.

Dr. Terrie E. Moffitt’s appointments include the Nanerl O Keohane University Professor of Psychology, Duke University and Professor of Social Development, King's College, London. Moffit’s expertise is in the areas of lifelong aging, mental health, and longitudinal research methods. She is the associate director of the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, which follows a 1972 birth cohort in New Zealand. She also founded the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study (E-Risk), which follows a 1994 birth cohort in Britain. Moffitt is a licensed clinical psychologist, with specialization in neuropsychological assessment. She is an elected fellow of the US National Academy of Medicine, British Academy, and UK Academy of Medical Sciences. Her current service includes chair of the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences at the National Academy of Sciences, chair of the National Institute on Aging’s Data-Monitoring Board, and chair of the jury for the Klaus J. Jacobs Prize (Switzerland). Moffitt is a recipient of the Stockholm Prize, the Klaus Jacobs Prize, the NARSAD Ruane Prize, and the 2022 Grawemeyer Prize for her work on mental health, and the Maltilda White Riley Award from the NIH for her recent work on aging. Dr. Moffitt received her PhD in psychology at the University of Southern California and completed her postdoctoral training at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. She enjoys working on her poison-ivy farm in North Carolina. Learn more at www.moffittcaspi.com.


5 Questions to Consider While Reading

  1. We began reading James Baldwin and writing together in response to police violence on campus and in our local community. How have you been impacted by events in your local community in recent years?
  2. This book is an introduction to James Baldwin's life and writing. What is one thing you learned about Baldwin from this text that surprised or delighted you?
  3. James Baldwin requires readers to reckon with the racial violence of U.S. history. What do you know about U.S. history, and what more do you want to learn?
  4. This book aims to help readers move from conviction to action. What is one belief that you hold with such conviction that you'd be motivated to take action in your community?
  5. In the end, Baldwin was an artist, and our book concludes with an invitation to readers to create art. What beautiful, creative things might you make and share?

Biography

Adam Hollowell teaches ethics and inequality studies at Duke University, where he directs the Global Inequality Research Initiative at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Jamie McGhee is a novelist, playwright, and essayist. For her fiction, she was named a James Baldwin Fellow in Saint-Paul de Vence, France, and a Sacatar Fellow in Itaparica, Brazil. She graduated from Duke University in 2016, where she was a Reginaldo Howard Scholar. She lives in Berlin, Germany.