The Best Books We Read in 2022

Whew, that’s a wrap on 2022! As always, we’ve got some fun reading recommendations for you, courtesy of Duke University Press staff!

Your Body Is Not Your BodyExhibits Manager Jes Malitoris recommends Your Body Is Not Your Body—an anthology for horror lovers, full of rage and catharsis from over 30 trans and non-binary authors, poets, and artists. These speculative fiction short stories and poems are not for the faint of heart, full of body horror and transformation. The collection is precisely what Jes needed this year, and as a bonus it is produced by a small press, with all the proceeds going to Equality Texas to protect and support trans youth.

Eve's HollywoodMeanwhile, Senior Copywriter Chris Robinson offers Eve’s Hollywood. As Chris puts it, this is a collection of essays by journalist, socialite, model, artist, etc. etc. etc. Eve Babitz. She paints a picture of the wealthy and glamorous side of Los Angeles in the 60s and 70s that she ran with—rock stars, her rich Beverly Hills classmates. In one particularly poignant essay she recounts spending the night in the legendary Chateau Marmont while the Watts riots were raging: a picture of the complexity and multiplicity of Los Angeles. Babitz’s writing is scary good—her acknowledgement section alone is astonishing.


Next up: Business Systems Coordinator Arvilla Mastromarino gives praise for Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi. Alone but for the occasional appearance of a man known as “The Other,” the book’s protagonist, Piranesi, wanders a labyrinthine world caught between sky and water. He helps The Other’s research into A Great and Secret Knowledge, only to learn a terrible truth of his own. Clarke masterfully weaves a dream of a tale that Arvilla didn’t want to wake up from!

Dark EarthBooks Marketing Manager Laura Sell especially enjoyed Dark Earth by Rebecca Stott. Laura says she’s never given much thought to the “Dark Ages”—the period after the Romans left England and abandoned the city of Londinium, but before England was unified in the tenth century. This novel richly imagines that period from the point of view of two sisters. Laura was struck in particular by the beautiful and haunting descriptions of the decaying Londinium, about 150 years abandoned when the novel takes place. The earth is slowly reclaiming the city, with no one to repair the infrastructure. Reading this book from a crossroads in our own democracy and civilization is instructive. Take care, the most technologically advanced empire can be but a memory in a hundred years.

Secret LivesInternational Library Sales Manager Natasha De Bernardi loved Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, a debut collection of nine short stories featuring Black women protagonists. The church is a theme throughout, but really they are intimate stories of black women (and girls) dealing with their inner desires. The book was published by a small university press and won the PEN/Faulkner Award as well as being a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. A recent New York Times op-ed listed the book as an example of the kind of quality fiction that is coming out of university presses and that does not find a place among big commercial publishers. Slate has a great article that tells the story of how the book got published.

Black Was the RiverPublicist & Academic Exhibits Coordinator Ryan Helsel’s favorite book of 2022 was Black Was The River, You See by Welsh photographer Dan Wood. In her introductory essay, writer Rachel Trezise presents the Welsh expression “milltir sgwâr,” which, while translating directly to “square mile,” refers “more particularly to the patch of ground you make your own—the place that shapes you and which is shaped in return by your connection.” For Dan Wood, this describes the villages and rolling hills that line the banks of the “unremarkable” River Ogmore along its short passage to the sea in South Wales. Wood’s muted color photographs use the Ogmore as a thread to connect lyrical observations of landscape, people, and detritus, creating a sense of place that is highly specific yet familiar. Ryan adds that, after the past few years of staying very close to home and spending many afternoons walking the banks of the Eno River (which, at 40 miles is more than twice the length of the Ogmore) with his two young children, the reminder to embrace the landscape, people, and artifacts that make up our “square mile” feels more valuable than ever.

And finally, Acquisitions Editor Elizabeth Ault simply could not settle on just one! The three best books she read this year were The Sentence by Louise Erdrich; The Trees by Percival Everett; and All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews. In each of these works, politics are fundamental to the workings of plot and narrative in a way that feels elegantly worked-through, rather than tacked-on (as was the case in some other post-George Floyd novels that Elizabeth has read and read about…). Elizabeth adds that the books all have a strong sense of place; Erdrich and Mathews both evoke the Upper Midwest she knows and loves (in their Minneapolis and Milwaukee, respectively) in its glory and its violence. Each of the authors does smart and interesting things with character, even as Everett’s novel is much more satirical than the other two, which are both really warmly peopled. In their own ways, each is actually pretty f’ing funny, and Elizabeth loves when that can coexist (as it must; as we know it does in our everyday lives!) with an urgent attention to the evils of racism, capitalism, homophobia, transphobia, and the many other threats to collective thriving and liberation.Pic Collage

Q&A with Donovan O. Schaefer

Donovan Schafer 5a (1)Donovan O. Schaefer is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power, also published by Duke University Press, and The Evolution of Affect Theory: The Humanities, the Sciences, and the Study of Power. Schaefer’s new book is Wild Experiment: Feeling Science and Secularism after Darwin. Examining the reception of evolutionary biology, the 1925 Scopes Trial, and the New Atheist movement of the 2000s, Schaefer theorizes the relationship between thinking and feeling by challenging the conventional wisdom that they are separate.

How does Wild Experiment, which is your second book, build on or diverge from your earlier book Religious Affects?

After writing Religious Affects, I had a lot of people tell me they were convinced by its core argument—that affect theory is an excellent lens for studying the relationship between religion and power. But it also ended up reaffirming a binary that I found troubling: the notion that religion is uniquely driven by affect, the emotional counterpart to secular rationality.

That’s not what I meant to put forward at all. I think affect theory offers what Lauren Berlant calls a “sensualized epistemology,” a way of defining the relationship between thinking and feeling, rather than just building out the study of feeling as a domain radically separate from thinking. So Wild Experiment goes much further than Religious Affects in setting out to show how what we think of as purely cognitive processes—including reason, science, and secular rationality—are determined by affect.

That said, a big part of what the book is up to is making the case that seeing thinking and feeling as connected doesn’t mean that we can’t learn, reflect, and build our understanding of the world around us. Knowledge-making is a process that’s shot through with affects, but as I argue in the Introduction, that’s both why it works when it works and why it gets pulled off course.

978-1-4780-1825-4_prIn your Introduction, and then throughout your book, you are interested in “the emotions that move thought” and “the way thinking feels” (3). Can you say a bit about how your book breaks down the thinking/feeling binary?

The thinking/feeling binary is what I think of as an “ambient” paradigm. It’s not necessarily something that scholars—or anyone else—says or writes down. They don’t have to. It saturates so much of our thinking that it’s everywhere, from academic monographs to social media feeds to chatting at the bar. Even some thinkers who push back on the priority of cognition will tend to reiterate the binary, reaffirming the value of the affective by assigning it priority over cognition. This is a syntax that informs a lot of affect theory, especially versions of affect theory that are most closely associated with the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze.

That doesn’t at all mean the binary is accepted across the board. The first half of the book is an extended survey of thinkers and literatures that push back on the binary from different directions. Some of that comes from within the Western philosophical tradition, but I’m especially interested in other strands of affect theory (especially as informed by queer of color theory), postcolonial critiques of secularism, science and technology studies, the post-critical turn in literary theory, and academic psychology. My hope is that putting all these conversations side by side builds a conceptual critical mass that will help destabilize the thinking/feeling binary.

In addition to being an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, you are also Core Faculty in the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. To what extent does this book contribute to or borrow from gender/feminist studies?

I realized after I had finished the book that it had actually started in a seminar I took in grad school on feminist epistemologies with Linda Martín Alcoff. That seminar highlighted the limitations of classical epistemologies that focus exclusively on the intellectual dimension of thought. Feminist epistemologists have been interested in how to connect thinking to embodiment for decades. And feminist epistemology, as I read it, is also centrally concerned with the question of how a belief comes to seem like an expression of impartial reason. Feminists wanted an explanation for why skewed knowledges were so effective at defending themselves with appeals to “reason.” What they found is that the composition of any given political rationality is always configured by a distinct set of historical coordinates. Every reason has a genealogy. Some feminists went further, showing that these genealogies were embodied and affective.

I also draw heavily on the longstanding interest among queer and trans theorists in desire, pleasure, and feeling. The version of affect theory I’m most interested in is a direct outgrowth of these central concerns of queer critique. One of the arguments I make in Chapter 2 is that Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Vol. I, one of the foundational texts in queer theory, has actually been read through a prism that blocks some of its most compelling insights. Foucault spends a huge amount of time in that book elaborating what he calls “power-knowledge-pleasure.” That conceptual structure is foundational to the arguments he makes about science, politics, and sexuality. But it gets surprisingly little attention in the secondary literature, especially when Foucault is read outside of queer theory. One of my aims is to develop the conceptual link between science and feeling that has been of vital importance to queer science studies.

One of the book’s major concerns is race, and you engage with a range of figures coming from Black studies and queer of color theory to develop that analysis. What is “racialized reason”?

I’m interested in the question of how something comes to seem “reasonable” to some people in their time and place, and how oppressive regimes of knowledge are able to fortify themselves by appealing to “rationality.” Why does a racist society end up producing, validating, and recirculating racist science, for instance? I don’t think it’s adequate to say that racists create a well-packaged lie that none of them actually believe and put it into circulation to preserve existing hierarchies. I think racist ideas are genuinely believed by racists, even when they verge into absurdity. What I argue, building on queer of color theorists interested in affect, is that it’s because “reason” is not just the neutral analysis of ideas and information. It’s configured by a set of affective parameters that dictate what feels true. Racist structures of feeling configure “rationality” itself, setting the table for racist ideas to feel true.

This is where the constant Trumpist refrain of “fuck your feelings” comes from. White supremacists are able to present themselves as above the fray of “emotions” because what they call “rationality” has been fashioned within a white supremacist society. Their version of “reason” makes racist ideas feel true. Everyone who disagrees with them is dismissed as “emotional.” Sara Ahmed calls this whiteness as an orientation that is in frictionless alignment with the “white world.” The big lie underwriting all this, of course, is that what they call “rationality” has itself been configured by white supremacist structures of feeling. “Reason” has become racialized through its contamination by racist affects. So what they’re really saying is “fuck your feelings—but protect my feelings at all costs.”

Sharon Patricia Holland’s concept of racism’s “erotic life” has been a huge influence on me, too. Her work opened up for me a way of thinking about racism as something that doesn’t have to be associated with a set of functional or economic priorities. Part of what makes racism as intractable as it is—and why it’s so easy for neo-fascist movements to mobilize racism—is the pleasure dimension of racism that doesn’t necessarily reduce to a calculation of costs and benefits for racists. Constantly framing racism as an economic strategy awards way too much political intelligence to racists. Coming from another direction, Sylvia Wynter and Denise Ferreira da Silva’s challenge to a particular Euro-modern definition of “Man” as that which is autonomous and unaffected is crucial for this project.

You talk about the prevalence of misinformation, and how people are compelled not by what is “true,” necessarily, but what “feels true” given what they have already come to know/believe. How might this insight inform the way that people engage with each other across gaps in understanding and differences of thought or values?

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that there’s a global crisis of communication happening right now. One of the dimensions of that crisis, as I see it, is that we still tend to assume that good information always floats to the top, that there’s an inevitable algorithm by which “truth will out.” What I propose, instead, is that we need to see the landscape of information as defined by feeling. That doesn’t mean we’re lost at sea. The work of better understanding ourselves and the world around us is an emotional process—and it succeeds because it’s guided by feeling, what Audre Lorde calls “consciousness of living as a situation to be experienced and interacted with.” But we also need to recognize that sometimes beliefs are fastened in place because they feel good, regardless of whether they’re true. Conspiracy theory, I suggest in the book, is a perfect example of this. It’s a sprawling set of interconnected beliefs that are embraced—passionately—because they’re the most exciting possible interpretation of a situation. Conspiracy theories flourish in the social media age because they’re pitch-perfect clickbait. They explain the world in ways that are profoundly misleading—but feel good. They’re seductive ideas that people quite literally “want to believe.”

On the other hand, I think we also too often tend to assume that people are either “rational”—if they’re following what we consider the right ideas or evidence—or “irrational”—if they refuse. I don’t think that framing of the problem leads anywhere. The liberal fantasy of a rational public sphere—in which people are always and everywhere persuaded by better arguments, more evidence, more facts—is a myth; but it’s also a mistake to think that someone who isn’t persuaded by new information is fundamentally immune to facts. Both of those framings are ways of mapping persuasion according to the thinking/feeling binary. Being more thoughtful about persuasion means recognizing that persuasion is always about reshaping what feels true for someone. Understanding how that affective landscape is shaped by factors that are extrinsic to the content of what you’re saying to someone is crucial. But it’s also important to recognize that facts themselves are powerful tools of persuasion, especially when we consider how facts feel to people in different contexts and positions.

What do you hope that readers take away from Wild Experiment, if you had to sum it up in a tweet?

The thinking/feeling binary is a construct; it’s a construct with a history, but one that has been extraordinarily successful at presenting itself as a natural division. There’s no thinking that we do that isn’t affectively defined. We always feel our way along. And to understand the relationship of knowledge and power, we have to make feeling central to our analysis. As Lorde writes, “The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The Black mother within each of us — the poet — whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free. Poetry coins the language to express and charter this revolutionary demand, the implementation of that freedom.”

Read the introduction to Wild Experiment for free and save 30% on the paperback with coupon E22SCHFR.

Summer Reading Recommendations from our Staff

Summer is for popsicles and water slides—and BOOKS! Light-hearted or serious, long or short, brand-new or decades old. Check out our staff members’ recommendations for summer reading!

Cover of Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzu. The dominant background color is green, with blue streaks in the top left and bottom right corners, and yellow and orange dots all around the border. There is an orange-gold outline of a bird in the center.

First up is Journals Marketing Manager Jocelyn Dawson. The book she’s enjoyed the most in 2022 so far has been Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo—not a typical beach read but a good, absorbing novel. It’s the story of Anna, a middle-aged London woman who discovers that the father she has never met was once president of a West African nation. More than anything, Jocelyn loved this book for the mood/atmosphere that hangs over the whole book, totally immersing you as Anna journeys to meet her father. 

Cover of The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan. The cover has a red, left-side border with a floral pattern. To the right is a picture of a lake surrounded by trees and mountains in the background, and a picture of a young Chinese woman superimposed onto this background.

Though arguably a bit heavy for poolside reading, Publicity Assistant Jessica Covil-Manset enjoyed reading Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter. Other fans of Tan’s will find much about this novel familiar: the split narrative, the excavation of mother-daughter relationships, and the interweaving of collective/national histories with intergenerational familial tales. And with the heaviest elements of this novel—death, ghosts, curses—come poignant reflections on what it means to remember, to lose memories, and to revise or reframe one’s understanding of the past. It’s gorgeous!

Cover of The Secret Skin by Wendy N. Wagner. Forming a border around the cover is a trellis with bight red roses. A woman is walking, her back to the camera, toward a large house in the background. It looks to be dusk, and trees cast shadows across her path.

Perhaps more in-line with summer, Exhibits Manager Jes Malitoris just recently finished the novella The Secret Skin by Wendy N. Wagner, a breezy, sapphic haunted house story by the sea. Strong Shirley Jackson vibes, with a little bit of body horror and a little girl secondary character that Jes would love to read an entire series about.

Cover of The Changeling by Joy Williams, 40th Anniversary Edition. Against a black background are two main figures: a wolf at the top, looking down; and a deer at the bottom, looking up at the wolf's tail. Between them are tall flowers.

Acquisitions Editor Elizabeth Ault recently discovered Joy Williams’s febrile 1978 classic The Changeling in its 2018 Tin House reissue. While Elizabeth can’t precisely say that she “enjoyed” it, she can recommend it as a sort of dizzy replication of what trying to act normal while wading through 95 degree + 95 percent humidity air in a Durham summer sometimes feels like, with occasional flashes of precise humor and observation that she can never quite muster in the heat.

Cover of The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka. The cover is taking up completely by an aerial shot of a swimming pool and shows four swimmers training.

Meanwhile, Books Marketing Manager Laura Sell recommends The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka. The first section is written in the style of a Greek chorus, echoing the voices of a group of people who all swim at the same community pool, which has developed an unsettling crack in the bottom. The next sections trace the life of one of those swimmers, Alice, and her daughter. Alice suffers from dementia, and one section is written in the second person, detailing the many indignities Alice will face when she enters memory care. The writing in The Swimmers is haunting and unique, and the book is a moving portrait of family, aging, and death. 

Cover of Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, The Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm, by Dan Charnes (whose name does not appear on the cover). The book's subtitle wraps around all four borders of the cover, with the the main title in large, capitalized letters at the top and bottom of the cover. In the center is a blue grid with yellow dots outlining the face of a man wearing a hat.

Turning up the tunes, Copywriter Chris Robinson recommends Dilla Time, the first biography of the legendary hip hop producer and rapper J Dilla. Dan Charnas not only tells the story of Dilla’s life and his approach to music, he shows how and why his music was so transformational and discusses the complicated legacy Dilla left after his death in 2006.

Cover of LOTE by Shola Von Reinhold. Cover is pearlescent with the title text in large blue letters around a teardrop shaped ornament with a peacock inside it. Text below the image reads “Ingenious; irresistible; a dazzling first novel.”--Naomi Booth, author of Sealed and The Lost Art of Sinking

You call it cheating, we call it truth: Sales Manager Michael McCullough offers up LOTE, one of our very own books—because he loved it so much, because author Shola von Reinhold is a dazzling new talent, and because he had a blast reading it. He confirms that LOTE is hilariously funny, but that it is also deeply insightful about race, gender, class, and art. This book is going to appeal to people who love high society English romps, people who care about Black writers and trans writers, people who like novels about the art world, and people who need a little glamor in these challenging times.

Revisiting our Asian/Pacific American Cultures and Histories Syllabus

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and in honor of this annual celebration, we’re revisiting our staff-curated Asian/Pacific American Cultures and Histories Syllabus, originally published in March 2021. The articles, issues, and books in this syllabus discuss not only complex histories and contemporary experiences of racism and imperialism, but also community formation, solidarity between marginalized groups, and worldmaking possibilities.

See the full syllabus here.

Invisible Man Syllabus

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the publication of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952, Random House), we are pleased to offer our Invisible Man Syllabus. The books, journal articles, and special issues in this syllabus explore the significance of the novel in relation to art, music, modernism, Blackness, psychiatry, and more.

All included articles in the syllabus are freely available through July 14. Start reading here.

“In exploring the lived experience of a black man’s cultural ‘invisibility’ almost a hundred years ago, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man remains a crucial text for understanding Black Lives Matter in relation to an American history defined by racialized violence,” says Twentieth-Century Literature editor Lee Zimmerman. “At the same time, for all its own failures of vision, the novel points to how the structures of racial invisibility have shaped what, in an American context, ‘mattering’ might mean in the first place.”

Barbara Foley, author of Duke University Press-published Wrestling with the Left: The Making of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, echoes the sentiment of the novel’s critical importance. “At once an embodiment of Cold War ideology and a proclamation of universal humanism, a searing indictment of US racism and an imaginative projection of a world beyond race, Invisible Man is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century.”

Celebrating National Library Week

To celebrate the American Library Association’s National Library Week, we’re featuring the work our Library Relations team does to bring Duke University Press content to academic, public, and special libraries.

In addition to individual book sales and journal subscriptions, we offer complete packages of electronic content to libraries at significant discounts. The annual e-Duke Journals and e-Duke Books collections provide the subscribing library with perpetual, unlimited multiuser access to every journal issue and book title, respectively, published in that calendar year in the humanities and social sciences. These library sales allow any user—faculty, students, staff, or public library patron—affiliated with the subscribing institution to read DUP books and journals through their library.

We maintain a robust indexing and metadata program, sending metadata files regularly to major library technology vendors, to ensure that libraries can easily incorporate these records into their catalogs and user interfaces. These efforts help more users discover and access the content they are searching for on their library’s website.

We work with a 34-member Library Advisory Board, consisting of library staff in various roles at institutions around the world, whom we contact regularly for advice on how our products and services can work best for libraries and their patrons.

Our library sales team attends 10–15 library conferences each year, domestically and internationally. These events help us build relationships with our customers and learn from the many valuable sessions and panels about current topics in the library profession.

For more information about our library relations program, visit our Library Resource Center or the Library Products Catalog to see the range of products we offer to libraries. Reach out to our Library Relations team at to see how we can work with your library.

Critical University Studies Syllabus

Today we are pleased to publish our Critical University Studies Syllabus, which evolved from a Duke University Press reader’s suggestion. The articles, special issues, and books collected in this syllabus provide insight into critical inquiries of the university system and its histories, and reflect on directions for future frameworks for higher education. Topics include structural racism, gender, the uneven distribution of resources, coloniality, academic labor, and the effects of university financialization.

All journal articles, sections, and issues in this syllabus are freely available through March 31, 2022. Book introductions are always free.

The Critical University Studies Syllabus is one of our many staff–curated syllabi, which cover topics ranging from queer studies to labor and precarity to election history. Check out our full syllabi series here.

Support Duke University Press on Giving Tuesday

This Giving Tuesday, please consider supporting the innovative, interdisciplinary scholarship we publish here at Duke University Press! Over the years, our publications have developed new areas of study that transform current thinking and open up new avenues to effect positive change in our world. Our mission-driven publishing work relies on individual and institutional contributions. We are grateful to the many authors who donate their royalties each year to sustain our publications and to the authors, readers, librarians, and other supporters who help make our work possible. Consider supporting our work through one of the six funds listed below.

Translation Fund
Our Translation Fund supports the translation of crucial intellectual work originally published in languages other than English. To date, this fund has supported eight translations of important works, including Achille Mbembe’s Necropolitics (2019) and Françoise Vergès’s The Wombs of Women (2020). Donate to the Translation Fund.

Scholars of Color First Book Fund
This fund supports books authored by scholars of color which show extraordinary promise as important scholarly interventions. This fund helps us maintain our commitment to publish works by rising stars and to celebrate books by scholars of color, especially those who might otherwise not receive recognition and support from their institutions. The fund supports production expenses, including the cost of indexing, which is ordinarily paid for by authors. Donate to the Scholars of Color First Book Fund.

Editorial Director Gisela Fosado says, “Every first book we publish is usually tied to a happy tenure story. Supporting first books by scholars of color is therefore essential to fundamental changes we need in higher education.” Read our blog post about the first cohort of award recipients.

The Lauren Berlant Fund for Utopian Thought
This fund celebrates the life and work of long-time author Lauren Berlant. The fund supports critical-creative and interdisciplinary books that take intellectual risks with both the conception and form of scholarly work, in order to discover how problems look different, and solutions look possible, when we show up to them differently—and together. Awards will be given annually by Duke University Press editors to titles that are distinguished by their creativity in thought and/or attentiveness to the challenges of working within their chosen form. The funds will be used to help cover production costs for the book and will help support the author’s costs as well. Donate to the Lauren Berlant Fund for Utopian Thought.

World Readers Fund
Our World Readers Fund supports the publication of our Latin America Readers and World Readers series—two series that involve extensive translation and permissions costs. Books in these series provide vivid, thought-provoking introductions to the history, culture, and politics of countries, cities, and regions around the world. Each volume features dozens of original documents, most of which have been translated into English for the first time. Donate to the World Readers Fund.

Demography Journal Fund
Publishing the data of disparity and inequality on a regular basis, Demography is a quintessential Duke University Press publication in that it disseminates peer-reviewed research designed to make the world a better and more equitable place for all. The flagship journal of the Population Association of America (PAA), Demography became open access in 2021 as it joined the Duke University Press journals publishing program. Demography’s open-access funding model relies entirely on financial support from individuals, libraries, and other institutions. The 2020 Journal Citation Reports ranked Demography as #1 in citations and #2 in impact factor in its field. Donate to the Demography Journal Fund.

“We were excited to see the announcement that Demography had switched to a fully open-access model with Duke University Press. OA models like this do not charge fees to readers and are instead supported by institutions, societies, and individuals. … Efforts like this one move the needle towards a more sustainable publishing system that prioritizes the advancement of human knowledge,” shared Colleen Lyons, Head of Scholarly Communications at the University of Texas at Austin Libraries.

Duke University Press General Publication Fund
As a nonprofit publisher, our donors are critical to our continued success. Your gift will support the publication of cutting-edge new books and journals. Donate to the Duke University Press General Publication Fund.

Summer reading recommendations from our staff

It’s officially summer in the northern hemisphere! Looking for a good vacation read? Our staff have you covered with a bunch of great recommendations. We hope you’ll pick up one of these books (or a few!) from your local indie bookstore.

Kristen Twardowski, Library Sales Manager, recommends Made for Love by Alissa Nutting, a “hysterical summer read about technology, surveillance, and escaping your megalomaniac billionaire husband who may or may not want to upload your brain to a computer chip. You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll throw your iPhone into the sea, and you’ll wonder if you should move into a senior living community before age 40. Just the prescription for 2021.”

“An underground cabal of white men (and some women) secretly controlling events at and around a university in North Carolina?! Obviously this is the premise for a work of fantasy: Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn, about a Black girl who comes to an early college program at UNC only to get swept up into a history of magic and secret societies,” says Editor Elizabeth Ault. “Deonn weaves together a wonderful sense of place—the book begins at one of my favorite Durham summer spots, the Eno River Quarry—and braids together Arthurian and Black Southern magical traditions in a moving and absorbing way that manages to be genuinely surprising. The worst part about this book is that it’s clearly the setup for a series; book 2 can’t come fast enough!”

Chris Robinson, Senior Copywriter, recommends Greg Bear’s The Forge of God. “It’s a first contact with aliens book that is unlike all the others I’ve read (any more will spoil the ending) where the alien visitors send all kinds of mixed messages upon arrival. There are a lot of strands running through it: religion, politics, physics, and more developed characters (geologists, oceanographers, White House officials, everyday regular folks who just get caught up in it) than a lot of sci-fi books.”

The Silence of Bones by June Hur is Exhibits Manager Jes Malitoris’s pick: a “murder mystery set in 19th-century Korea, from the perspective of a young woman who serves as an indentured servant to the capital city police; a great page-turner with an ending that surprised me. It is a young adult book (and you can definitely feel it at times in the characterization), but even as an adult reader this was a really enjoyable, complex mystery.”

Project Editor Annie Lubinsky endorses Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott. “The author, a lifelong fan of P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories, has created a new adventure for the two characters. Jeeves has been called upon to help the British secret service, and the organization pulls in Bertie Wooster as well. The world will be very familiar to Wodehouse fans, and the antics Bertie gets up to are laugh-out-loud funny. (The book is fully authorized by the Wodehouse Estate, and it’s easy to see why!)”

“Mick Herron’s Slough House series of novels are my idea of perfect vacation reads,” says Charles Brower, Senior Project Editor. “There are seven so far, starting with Slow Horses and including this year’s Slough House, about a group of British intelligence agents stuck in a dead-end London posting because they screwed up or have addiction or anger issues or got on the wrong side of powerful people. Their struggles with their demons mirror Britain’s struggles with Brexit and the ghosts of colonialism and the Cold War. The novels are cleverly plotted and hilarious, and I’ve developed great affection for these very flawed heroes.”

“I love steampunk, fantasy, and magic, so A Master of Djinn was a great book for me,” says Erica Woods Tucker, Production Coordinator. “P. Djèlí Clark does a great job intertwining lots of elements into a book that you can’t put down. The main character, Fatma el-Sha’arawi, is a badass. She knows martial arts, is brilliant, and can do the impossible; her partners are women who are also badass and could have several books of their own. I sailed through this book in a few days. I can’t wait until the next book comes out (there are two small prequels you can check out that are in the same universe). It feels like Fatma has a lot more stories.”

“My favorite vacation read is always a sprawling historical novel, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls fits that description,” says Laura Sell, Publicity and Advertising Manager. “It’s the story of Vivian Morris, who drops out of Vassar in 1940 and moves to New York City to live above a crumbling vaudeville theater that her eccentric aunt owns. Over 500 pages we follow Vivian as she immerses herself in the world of theater and nightlife, makes friends and mistakes, and ultimately learns what she wants from life and love. The book is so richly imagined you can smell the greasepaint, taste the martinis, and hear the jazz as you read.”

“My brother sent me a copy of singer Rickie Lee Jones’s memoir Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles of an American Troubadour. Jones spent her formative years in the same part of Phoenix that my brother and I grew up in, and she knew some people we knew, so the section about her youth was particularly poignant for me. This memoir is honest and compelling; Jones’s writing, like her singing voice, is quirky, distinctive, and insightful,” says Patty Chase, Digital Content Manager.

Lastly, Project Editor Lisa Lawley recommends two nonfiction books: The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights by Dorothy Wickenden and Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America by Nicole Eustace. “I like when my reads have synergy and both of these books have a lot to say about community. The Agitators follows a group of friends who, despite different temperaments and priorities, pull mostly together to effect abolition in the U.S. and eventually win the vote for women. Insights into the wartime activities of Harriet Tubman, the dynamics of upper-class marriage in the nineteenth century, and a fraught political climate discomfitingly like our own are a bonus. Covered with Night juxtaposes the Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee’s concept of reparative justice and the harsh punitive system of colonial America that continues today as members of both communities work to resolve the 1722 murder in Pennsylvania of a Seneca man, Sawantaeny, by two fur traders disgruntled about a trade. The resulting Treaty of 1722, the oldest continuously operating agreement still in our country’s history, was constructed through dialogue between Taquatarensaely—‘Captain Civility’—and other Native leaders with frightened representatives of the colony, who expected harsh reprisal instead of an invitation and path to forgiveness alongside continued inclusion in the Nations’ circles of community.”

2022 Pricing Updates from Duke University Press

In continued recognition of the financial changes that many libraries face as a result of COVID-19, for the second year in a row, Duke University Press will maintain existing prices for the 2022 calendar year for our journals and select electronic collection products.

Pricing will remain unchanged for the e-Duke Books and e-Duke Journals collections, DMJ 100, Euclid Prime, and direct journal subscriptions (with the exception of Prism, which will increase in frequency in 2022). Detailed information is available at If your library has a custom deal, the library relations team will be in touch in August to confirm your renewal pricing.

Journal Updates

Duke University Press is pleased to announce the addition of Agricultural History to its 2022 list. Agricultural History, founded in 1927, is the journal of record in its field, publishing articles on all aspects of the history of agriculture and rural life with no geographical or temporal limits. It is published quarterly on behalf of the Agricultural History Society. Agricultural History will be included in the e-Duke Journals Expanded collection.

Demography, the flagship journal of the Population Association of America, joined Duke University Press earlier this year and is now available open access. Demography’s fully open-access funding model relies entirely on financial support from libraries and research centers. Learn how your institution can contribute.

Beginning in 2022, Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature will publish an annual monographic supplement, in addition to its biannual issues, increasing the journal frequency from two to three issues per volume.

Open Access Community Investment Program launches to support OA publishing

Duke University Press is pleased to partner with LYRASIS and Transitioning Society Publications to Open Access (TSPOA) to launch the Open Access Community Investment Program, a project that matches libraries, consortia, and other prospective scholarly publishing funders with nonprofit publishers and journals seeking financial investments to support open-access publishing. Environmental Humanities, an open-access journal published by Duke University Press, is participating in the project’s pilot phase. Learn more about funding through TSPOA.

Annals of Mathematics joins Project Euclid

The Annals of Mathematics, one of the world’s leading mathematics journals, will be hosted on the Project Euclid platform beginning with the 2022 publication year. The Annals is published by the Department of Mathematics at Princeton University with the cooperation of the Institute for Advanced Study. Duke University Press will manage subscription fulfillment and hosting in coordination with Project Euclid.

Scholarly Publishing Collective

Beginning in 2022, Duke University Press will provide journal services including subscription management, fulfillment, hosting, and institutional marketing and sales in a collaboration called the Scholarly Publishing Collective. Partner publishers include Longleaf Services, Michigan State University Press, Penn State University Press, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the University of Illinois Press. Pricing for titles that are part of the Scholarly Publishing Collective will be announced in July 2021.

For more information about 2022 pricing, please contact