Summer Reads: Nine Books By Blue Devils That Should Be On Your List

Get through the summer with these nine must-read books by Duke alumni:

Dan Ariely
#1: Irrationally Yours: On Missing Socks, Pickup Lines, and Other Existential Puzzles by Dan Ariely Ph.D.'98 and William Haefeli '75

Duke's favorite behaviorial economist (Ariely) teams up with its favorite cartoonist (Haefeli) to bring Ariely's popular Wall Street Journal advice column Ask Ariely to life. Together Ariely and Haefeli--chief cartoonist for The New Yorker--explore questions ranging from the humorous ("How can I maximize my ROI at an all-you-can-eat-buffet?") to the practical ("How do I destress when I'm trading stocks?") to the sentimental ("Does the human soul have a price?"). This laugh-out-loud summer read reminds readers that existential dilemmas always find their way back to economics.  

Scott Ellsworth
#2: The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball’s Lost Triumph by Scott Ellsworth A.M.'77, Ph.D.'82

Historian Scott Ellsworth takes readers to the sidelines of the first integrated college basketball game in the South--a 1943 match-up between the then North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) and a group of Duke University students. Ellsworth, who earned his doctorate in history at Duke, uncovered the story of the secret game via his research of college basketball. The result is a riveting, little-known story reminding readers of a rising generation of risk-takers who fought against Jim Crow laws and ushered in the Civil Rights Movement.

 Wrestling with the Old Testament and Its Oddities

#3: This Strange and Sacred Scripture: Wrestling with the Old Testament and Its Oddities by Matthew Schlimm M.Div.'01, Ph.D.'08

Hebrew scholar Matthew Richard Schlimm, associate professor of Old Testament at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Iowa, grapples with the difficult topics arising in the ancient scriptures—from anger to violence to gender issues. Through careful bibical scholarship, Schlimm provides insight into how people of faith should interpret these "odd" texts and outlines strategies for interpreting them for use in both pastoral teaching and academic study.

Code Talker
#4: Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII by Chester Nez and Judith Avila '70

Chester Nez tells his story of operating as the last original Navajo code talker during World War II to writer Judith Avila ’70 in this harrowing memoir of courage and U.S. history. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Nez, who died in 2014 at 93 years old, enlisted in the U.S. Marines and worked with 28 other recruited Navajos to develop a secret code for communicating during the war. The Japanese military, which previously had been able to break all U.S. military codes, never cracked the Navajo code—making it one of the most important secret weapons in U.S. war history.

Ian Millhiser
#5: Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted by Ian Millhiser JD'06

Ian Millhiser, a senior fellow at education think tank The Center for American Progress Action Fund in Washington, D.C., takes readers on a jarring historical journey of the U.S. Supreme Court through stories of Americans who have been set back by the court’s decisions. From constitutional amendments giving equal rights to formerly enslaved people to contemporary court decisions, Millhiser argues that many U.S. Supreme Court decisions have dismantled the equality that the Constitution originally set out to give Americans. 

Damon Tweedy
#6: Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflection on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy MD'00

Duke doctor Damon Tweedy confronts prejudice and bias in the healthcare field in this profound memoir chronicling Tweedy’s journey from medical student to doctor. In a world where complex racial, economic and social issues have grievous effects on health, Tweedy becomes a voice for equality—both for black doctors and black patients—and argues that improved health is dependent on the wider community’s compassion for all people.

Kerry Hannon
#7: Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness by Kerry Hannon '82

Financial journalist and career coach Kerry Hannon thinks that you don’t have to start looking for a new job just yet. You can love your job right now. In this how-to career book, Hannon guides readers in simple techniques for interrogating negative thoughts and habits that weigh down employees in the workplace and then helps them find new opportunities by discovering happiness right where they are.

Eric Greitens
#8: Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens '96

Navy SEAL Eric Greitens guides readers on a path toward overcoming hardship by examining how ancient to modern leaders developed resilience in their lives. Through touching letters Greitens writes to a fellow SEAL struggling with the affects of war trauma and substance abuse, Greitens contends that while no one can escape pain, there are skills everyone can learn— from confronting sorrow to developing a purpose to taking an active role in achieving happiness—that can produce long-lasting resilience in everyone. 

Almost Famous Women
#9: Almost Famous Women: Stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman A.M.'07

In her second collection of short stories, Megan Mayhew Bergman (Birds of a Lesser Paradise) resurrects inspiring and fierce women of world history – from the first integrated all-girl swing band in North Carolina that sparked a violent protest in the segregated South to Irish author James Joyce’s only daughter Lucia, who inspired his greatest works in the midst of a culture that saw her as crazy rather than brilliant. Through her beautiful and lyrical prose, Bergman reminds readers that the most inspiring stories are often of those whom society deemed worthy to forget.