Yale University Press's Freshman Reading presents outstanding and original interdisciplinary works that offer critical, stimulating reading for incoming freshmen or for other summer reading programs. The books listed here will encourage thoughtful discussion and reflection among students as they begin their academic lives.

Exam copies are available to qualified professors for any of these titles. Click here for more information about our exam copy policy. Sample chapters can also be previewed by clicking on any jacket or title below, and following the preview link on the book page. Many authors featured in the list below are available to visit college campuses. Please email us at marketing@yale.edu with your request.

For a link to our course book website, click here.
  Race in America  

Elizabeth and Hazel
Two Women of Little Rock

Who were the two fifteen-year-old girls from Little Rock—one black, one white—in one of the most unforgettable photographs of the civil rights era? From what worlds did they come? What happened to them? How did the picture affect their lives?

2012   320 pp.
Paper ISBN: 9780300187922
Sister Citizen
Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

This groundbreaking book brings to light derogatory stereotypes that shape the experiences of African American women, then assesses the emotional and political costs of the struggle to counteract such negative assumptions.

2013   400 pp.   -   Paper ISBN: 9780300188189

King's Dream
The Legacy of Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream" Speech

In this new assessment of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 “I have a dream” speech, Eric J. Sundquist explores the origins of the speech, its place in the long history of American debates about equality and race, and why it is now hailed as the most powerful American address of the twentieth century.

- Icons of America
2009   320 pp.
Paper ISBN: 9780300158595
Black Gotham
A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City

Black Gotham is a fascinating look at a little-known segment of American history: African-American elites in New York City in the nineteenth century, told through Carla Peterson's intriguing account of her quest to reconstruct the lives of her ancestors.

2012   446 pp.   -   Paper ISBN: 9780300181746

The Heroic Slave
A Cultural and Critical Edition

This new edition of  Frederick Douglass’s only work of fiction, The Heroic Slave, his imaginative retelling of the most successful slave revolt in American history, includes an interpretive introduction, notes, and a selection of related writings by the author and others.

NEW 2015   304 pp.
Paper ISBN: 9780300184624
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave
Written by Himself

Seven years after his escape from slavery in 1838, the young Frederick Douglass published this celebrated account of his life in bondage and his triumph over oppression. His story—revealing the terrors of his enslavement, the brutality of his owners and overseers, and his harrowing escape to the North—has become a classic of American autobiography. This authoritative edition includes a chronology ...

2001   192 pp.   -   Paper ISBN: 9780300087017

My Bondage and My Freedom

A powerful life story and a passionate indictment of America’s politics of enslavement in the years preceding the Civil War, My Bondage and My Freedom is the second autobiography of Frederick Douglass, a man born into slavery who became one of the nation’s leading abolitionists, authors, orators, and statesmen.

2014   432 pp.
Paper ISBN: 9780300190595


Ethics and Values
Current Events
The Earth and the Cosmos
Religious Understanding
Notable American Lives
The Holocaust
World Literature
Welcome to Campus