Social Activism: A book can help you develop a world view

Death and Life of Great American CitiesThe Death and Life of Great American Cities

Jane Jacobs

Selected by the Duke University Libraries’ “Answer Person”

As I grew up in America, I came more to the realization that something wasn’t quite right. My family seemed to keep moving to neighborhoods that made me feel more and more isolated (figuratively and literally). Fewer neighborhood stores to stop at while walking home from school (even when I could walk to school), fewer sidewalks, more parking lots, and more time being chauffeured by my parents. Read more...

Mark TwainA Pen Warmed-Up in Hell; Mark Twain in Protest

Edited by Frederick Anderson

Selected by Oshri Hakak T’11

The book itself and the government's reaction thereto reflect problems that our country has been facing since it was itself a body of colonies and addresses issues that we are still confronted with today. Read more...

Origins of TotalitarianismThe Origins of Totalitarianism

Hannah Arendt

Selected by Paul Slattery T’08

I came into contact with this book through my thesis in literature. While the first two sections—concerning anti-Semitism and imperialism—are occasionally dry and massive in scope, the third section on totalitarianism is inspiring. Read more...

Call it SleepCall it Sleep

Henry Roth

Selected by Judith Ruderman, Vice Provost and Adjunct Professor of English

Regaled as a child with stories of how my Amerikaner-geboren grandmother opened her home to the greenhorns from the old country, I nevertheless had little appreciation for the immigrant experience until I read the 1934 novel Call it Sleep, by Henry Roth. Read more...

The FountainheadThe Fountainhead

Ayn Rand

Selected by Ava Feng T‘11

Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead spoke volumes to me about individuality and acting in accordance with your own convictions. I found it inspiring that she is so optimistic of our shared human nature… Read more...

A Tree for PeterA Tree for Peter

Kate Seredy

Selected by Melissa J. Mills, M.B.A.'87, M.T.S.'10, retired Duke administrator

Few of us ever know the impact we had had on others, or on the world, yet the smallest things can grow into a stream of reverberating goodness. A Tree for Peter tells this story. Read more...

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Last modified November 18, 2011 10:44:43 AM EST