American Writers Museum staff book picks December 2020

AWM Staff Picks: December

Reading Recommendations from the staff of the American Writers Museum.

Here’s what we’ve been reading recently. See any of your favorites? Let us know what you’re reading in the comments!

Our December 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.


I'm Gonna Push Through! by Jasmyn Wright

I’m Gonna Push Through! by Jasmyn Wright

Based on the Push Through movement that inspires kids worldwide, this is an empowering, energetic, and all-inclusive picture book that celebrates resilience in the face of adversity. My daughter and I read this book together after it was recommended to us by a teacher in our family, whose school recites the Push Through mantra before class each morning, and it has a really great message that is inspiring for people of all ages. Learn more about Author and Educator Jasmyn Wright here or hear her read-aloud I’m Gonna Push Through! here. To learn about the AWM’s education programs go here.

–Karie, Director of Marketing & Private Events


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

From the publisher: “France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever―and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.”

–Cristina, Facilities Supervisor


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I read Little Women every year around the holidays. It’s a tradition I started when I was probably in the 8th grade, and one that I look forward to every winter. With how 2020 has gone, re-reading a favorite book this holiday season brings a sense of peace in this otherwise very chaotic time. This year, I’ve also decided to read the rest of my The Best of Louisa May Alcott book, which includes Little Men and a collection of short stories as well.

I will also be the host of our upcoming Nation of Writers podcast episode about Allcott! I’ll be chatting with Jan Turnquist, executive director of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, one of our Author Home Affiliates. Tune in December 30!

–Catherine, Signature Events & Donor Relations Manager


Party Time by Harold Pinter

Party Time by Harold Pinter

From the publisher: “The streets are blockaded outside Gavin’s upmarket flat, the result of a military occupation. Inside, Gavin hosts a party where the machinations between the guests are as potent and suffocating as any wider social upheaval. This play (first performed at the Almeida with Mountain Language) is sparse, but in typical Pinter style, it is bursting with confrontational contemporary themes.”

–Matt, Storyteller


Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

I’ve had this book on my list for a while, ever since Akwaeke Emezi contributed to our special exhibit My America. And when I finally started reading it after the election, it was the perfect timing. In the fictional world Emezi has created, monsters have been eradicated, or so the children have been told. But when a monster emerges, our hero Jam must solve the mystery. This YA novel, a National Book Award finalist, asks the question: what does a monster look like and how can we train our eyes to see them? So post-election, as everyone was reeling with a myriad of emotions, I was asking that same question about our own all-too real society. Some monsters are obvious, but it’s the ones that seem nice and friendly that are perhaps more dangerous.

–Nate, Content & Communications Coordinator


Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman

This book is difficult to describe. Part theology, part science fiction, and part just plain science, Eagleman, a neuroscientist and writer, offers forty brief musings on afterlife possibilities. Every version of the afterlife Eagleman offers has its own merits and downfalls, but the string connecting them all are themes of death, hope, love, technology, and more. They all attempt to answer the eternal question: Why are we here? No entry is longer than four pages, which makes it a nice read for people who, like me, find it difficult to focus on long pieces of prose but still want to stretch their reading and writing muscles.

–Nate, Content & Communications Coordinator


The Twilight Zone by Anne Washburn

The Twilight Zone by Anne Washburn

As a huge fan of Rod Serling’s series, I was so excited to learn that one of my favorite playwrights, Anne Washburn, was adapting the series into a play. The play has already premiered in the West End and I am hoping it’ll make its way to the US very soon.

More from the publisher: “Between light and shadow, science and superstition, fear and knowledge is a dimension of imagination. An area we call the Twilight Zone. Adapted by Anne Washburn (Mr. Burns) and directed by Olivier Award-winner Richard Jones, this world premiere production of the acclaimed CBS Television Series The Twilight Zone lands on stage for the first time in its history. Or its present. Or its future. Stage magic and fantasy unite as the ordinary becomes extraordinary.”

–Matt, Storyteller


The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora

The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora

From the publisher: “Launched by four starred pre-pubs and a full page New York Times book review, The Wonder Garden marks Lauren Acampora’s rarely seen, sensational entrance into the literary world. With enchanting realism, these linked stories bring to the page the myriad lives of a suburban town, and reveal at each turn the unseen battles we play out behind drawn blinds, the creeping truths from which we distract ourselves, and the massive dreams we haul quietly with us and hold close. Deliciously creepy and masterfully complex The Wonder Garden heralds the arrival of a phenomenal new talent in American fiction.”

–Christopher, Director of Operations


Visit our Reading Recommendations page for more book lists.

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