New Students

The Duke Common Experience Summer Reading Program



The Class of 2021's Duke Common Experience Summer Reading winner is Prince of Los Cocuyos by Richard Blanco Click here to view the press release with more information on this award-winning memoir. 


The 2017 finalists were:

  • The Prince of Los Cocuyos by Richard Blanco
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty
  • The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

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 Winners

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