New Students

The Duke Common Experience Summer Reading Program

picture of Jesmyn Ward, Author of Sing Unburied Sing, which is the Duke Common Experience selection for the Class of 2022

The Class of 2022's Duke Common Experience selection was Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. We were excited to welcome Jesmyn to campus during Orientation Week! We are in the process of selecting the text for the Class of 2023! Each member of the Class of 2023 will receive a copy of the text later this summer.

Click here to learn more about all of the 2018 finalists.

Mission: The Duke Summer Reading program is designed to introduce students to the academic climate at Duke University and to encourage discussion and intellectual dialogue among undergraduate students.


  • The program was initiated during the 2001-2002 academic year from conversations between representatives from the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Office for Institutional Equity, and the Division of Student Affairs.
  • The Duke Summer Reading program is coordinated by the New Student Programs Office in the Division of Student Affairs with significant involvement from the President’s Office, the Office of Undergraduate Education, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, the Pratt School of Engineering, and the Duke student body.


  • To enrich the intellectual life of students.
  • To promote a shared/common experience among first-year students.
  • To prompt stimulating debate and lively discussion outside of the classroom.
  • To foster interaction between and among peers.


Past Selections

Class of 2021
The Prince of Los Cocuyos by Richard Blanco

Class of 2020
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Class of 2019
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Class of 2018
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Class of 2017:
Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann

Class of 2016:
State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

Class of 2015:
Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer

Class of 2014:
Everything Matters, by Ron Currie, Jr.

Class of 2013:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz

Class of 2012:
What is the What, by David Eggers

Class of 2011:
Best of Enemies, by Osha Gray Davidson

Class of 2010:
My Sister's Keeper, by Judy Picoult

Class of 2009:
Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Class of 2008:
Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder

Class of 2007:
Savage Inequalities, by Jonathan Kozol

Class of 2006:
The Palace Thief, by Ethan Canin