American Writers Museum staff picks August 2020

AWM Staff Picks: August

Reading Recommendations from the staff of the American Writers Museum.

The dog days of summer are upon us and per usual we’ve been busy spending our time reading. Here’s what the staff of the American Writers Museum has been reading recently.

Our August staff picks are also available on Bookshop.org, which benefits independent bookstores. We also strongly encourage you to support your local bookstore by ordering through them online directly. They need our help more than ever, and we need them to stick around.


Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon

Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon

From the publisher: “Alok Vaid-Menon provides an accessible primer to gender fluidity, showing how a world beyond the gender binary of man and woman creates more freedom for everyone.”

–Noelle, Education Program Coordinator


The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

From the publisher: “Calvin and Hobbes is unquestionably one of the most popular comic strips of all time. The imaginative world of a boy and his real-only-to-him tiger was first syndicated in 1985 and appeared in more than 2,400 newspapers when Bill Watterson retired on January 1, 1996. The entire body of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons published in a truly noteworthy tribute to this singular cartoon in The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.”

–Christopher, Director of Operations


Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

A strangely pleasurable read with an unsettling atmosphere drenched in fluorescent light.
–Cristina, Facilities Supervisor

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Borrowed this from a friend because she said I would like it and she was right. Very weird, but its weirdness is captivating. I finished it in two sittings.
–Nate, Content & Communications Coordinator


Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

From the publisher: “Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes. Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. Drawing on his own experiences, Kevin van Whye delivers an uplifting and poignant coming-out love story. Readers will root for Kai and Bryson to share their hearts with the world–and with each other.”

–Matt, Storyteller


Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Told from the perspective of a man in rehab looking back on how he got there, Saul Indian Horse realizes the only way to heal is to tell his story. As a young Ojibway boy in northern Ontario, he is taken to a Catholic boarding school, which is essentially a labor camp. His forced assimilation and loss of cultural heritage pains him, but he finds solace in hockey, in which he is a standout star. As he gets more notoriety for his playing ability, so too does he face harsher and harsher racism. But hockey is always there, until it isn’t. And as a hockey player myself, Wagamese’s description of in-game action is so accurate and enthralling, that I found myself moving my body in the same way as he describes, like I was playing the game myself. And that’s all I’ve wanted to do since I put the book down.

–Nate, Content & Communications Coordinator


Locke & Key, Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill, Illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez

Locke & Key, Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill, Illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez

From the publisher: “The dead plot against the living, the darkness closes in on Keyhouse, and a woman is shattered beyond repair in the third storyline of the award-winning series, Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows.

–Noelle, Education Program Coordinator


Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger’s voice is so distinctive. The first lines of his stories are like guitar riffs from your favorite band — one sentence and you’re back in his world, with quick visuals of the characters, just based on tone and dialogue. These stories round the curves and surprise you with what’s there.

–Linda, Director of Development


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Xiomara is a first-generation Dominican teenager struggling to find and understand her place in the world, and she triumphantly discovers her voice in slam poetry. The entirety of the book is told through Xiomara’s verses, which I found truly clever and powerful. Xiomara’s voice is raw, honest, and beautiful, and she really resonated with me.

–Courtney, Storyteller


The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas

The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas

This book is engaging, exciting, and a fun read. If you are looking for a fun light read with interesting characters and a good storyline, this is the book for you. I also had the chance to talk with Adrianna recently about the book and her writing. You can watch it here!

–Sonal, Assistant Director of Programming & Education


Yellow by Del Shores

Yellow by Del Shores

From the publisher: “Yellow chronicles a year in the life of the perfect family in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Bobby Westmoreland, a high school football coach, and his wife Kate, a respected therapist, have two ambitious children in high school. Their son Dayne is the golden football star while their daughter Gracie is an overly-dramatic actress. Gracie’s best friend is a young gay boy, Kendall, who is at constant odds with his abusive, fundamentalist mother, Sister Timothea. The play opens with the start of the football season and high school auditions for Oklahoma. Everything falls apart when an unexpected tragedy rocks the Westmoreland family to the breaking point. A departure from the comedy of earlier works, Del Shores’ Yellow is the award-winning playwright’s most dramatic play to date. The play was one of the most awarded Los Angeles plays of 2010, winning Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for Best Production and Best World Premiere Play.

–Matt, Storyteller


Visit our Reading Recommendations page for more book lists.

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