Duke Reads

Discover your next read, connect with fellow Blue Devil book enthusiasts, stay in the know about Duke faculty and alumni publications, or enjoy our playlist of author interviews. Duke Reads is your one-stop shop for alumni book lovers, events, and resources.

Lifelong Learning Summer Reading List

Need something new on your nightstand? We've got you covered. We asked some of Duke's most admired faculty members to contribute to our popular Lifelong Learning summer reading list.

Book Events

icon of book with blue pages open Join alumni, and the Duke community, for engaging books and discussions.

Author Interviews

youtube channel Hear from Blue Devil authors as they share writing influences, introduce their work, and provide insights into your next new read. 

Student Summer Reads

blue globeParticipate in thought-provoking reads designed to introduce incoming freshmen to Duke’s academic climate and encourage intellectual dialogue. This year’s selection is “The Measure” by Nikki Erlick.

Discussions of racial difference always embody a story. The dominant story told in our society about race has many components, but two stand out: (1) racial difference is an essential characteristic, fully determining individual and group identity; and (2) racial difference means that some bodies are less human than others.

The church knows another story, says Luke Powery, if it would remember it. That story says that the diversity of human bodies is one of the gifts of the Spirit. That story’s decisive chapter comes at Pentecost, when the Spirt embraces all bodies, all flesh, all tongues. In that story, different kinds of materiality and embodiment are strengths to be celebrated rather than inconvenient facts to be ignored or feared. In this book, Powery urges the church to live up to the inclusive story of Pentecost in its life of worship and ministry. He reviews ways that a theology and practice of preaching can more fully exemplify the diversity of gifts God gives to the church. He concludes by entering into a conversation with the work of Howard Thurman on doing ministry to and with humanity in the light of the work of the Spirit.


The Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery is the dean of Duke University Chapel and professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School. He also holds a faculty appointment in Duke’s Department of African and African American Studies. He is the author of “Becoming Human: The Holy Spirit and the Rhetoric of Race;” “Spirit Speech: Lament and Celebration in Preaching;” “Dem Dry Bones: Preaching, Death, and Hope;” “Rise Up, Shepherd! Advent Reflections on the Spirituals;” and “Were You There? Lenten Reflections on the Spirituals.”

Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence

Freeing Jesus is a work of "memoir theology" and explores the many images of Jesus we encounter and embrace through a lifetime—and how we make theology from the text of our lives in conversation with scripture and tradition. Freeing Jesus invites us to liberate Jesus and free ourselves when it comes to the ever-compelling and yet often-elusive figure at the center of Christian faith.


Diana Butler Bass, Ph.D., is an award-winning author, popular speaker, inspiring preacher, and one of America’s most trusted commentators on religion and contemporary spirituality. She is the author of eleven books, bylines including The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, The Atlantic, USA Today, Huffington Post, Spirituality & Health, Reader's Digest, Christian Century, and Sojourners. She lives in Alexandria, VA. 

One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic's Guide to Christian Meditation

One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation offers an accessible 40-day guide to beginning a Christian meditation practice. Trent reframes meditation for those who are skeptical because they doubt their ability to be still or they wonder whether meditation is a valid spiritual practice for Christians. She makes a strong case for Christian meditation from a biblical, historical, theological, and evidence-based perspective.

One Breath at a Time leads you step-by-step through five approaches:
• Breath meditation • Centering meditation
• Lectio divina meditation • Devotional meditation
• Loving-kindness meditation

Ever practical and encouraging, Trent gives you a variety of tools to begin and sustain a Christian meditation practice. Above all, she reminds you to be gentle with yourself, to embrace the beauty of being a beginner, and to keep practicing.


J. Dana Trent is a graduate of Duke Divinity School and professor of World Religions and Critical Thinking at Wake Tech Community College. An ordained Baptist minister and former hospital chaplain, her work has appeared on Time.com, Religion News Service, Sojourners, Religion Dispatches, and The Christian Century. She is also the award-winning author of One Breath At a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation, Dessert First: Preparing for Death While Savoring Life, For Sabbath’s Sake: Embracing Your Need for Rest, Worship, and Community, and Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Monk.