American Writers Museum Staff Picks February 2022

AWM Staff Picks: February 2022

Reading Recommendations from the staff of the American Writers Museum.

We can’t recommend these books highly enough! Check back every month for more reading recommendations, from classics that we reread over and over to new favorites. If you’re looking for your next book, you came to the right place.

Our January staff picks are also available on, which benefits independent bookstores. We also strongly encourage you to support your local bookstore by ordering through them online directly.

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten book cover

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

From the publisher: “As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose—to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods. Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again. But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood—and her world—whole.”

–Allison, Program Director

Hannah Arendt by Samantha Rose Hill book cover

Hannah Arendt by Samantha Rose Hill

From the publisher: “Hannah Arendt is one of the most renowned political thinkers of the 20th century, and her work has never been more relevant than it is today. Born in Germany in 1906, Arendt published her first book at the age of 23, before turning away from the world of academic philosophy to reckon with the rise of the Third Reich. After World War II, Arendt became one of the most prominent—and controversial—public intellectuals of her time, publishing influential works such as The Origins of TotalitarianismThe Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Samantha Rose Hill for the most recent episode of our Nation of Writers podcast, which you can listen to here. It was a fascinating and timely conversation about Arendt, her approach to thinking, her love of the world, and of course her unique talent as a storyteller.

–Nate, Digital Content Associate

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson book cover

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

We were honored to host Nancy Johnson at the American Writers Museum on February 8 to discuss her debut novel The Kindest Lie, named a Most Anticipated book by numerous outlets. Jodi Picoult described it as “a deep dive into how we define family, what it means to be a mother, and what it means to group up Black.” Johnson was joined in conversation by fellow writer Catherine Adel West. This program took place at the American Writers Museum and was filmed live. You can watch the full program here!

–Nate, Digital Content Associate

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen book cover

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

From the publisher: “Tien and his mother may come from different cultures—she’s an immigrant from Vietnam still struggling with English; he’s been raised in America—but through the fairy tales he checks out from the local library, those differences are erased. But as much as Tien’s mother’s English continues to improve as he reads her tales of love, loss, and travel across distant shores, there’s one conversation that still eludes him—how to come out to her and his father. Is there even a way to explain what he’s going through in Vietnamese? And without a way to reveal his hidden self, how will his parents ever accept him? This beautifully illustrated graphic novel speaks to the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together even when we don’t know the words.”

–Matt, Storyteller

Me and White Supremacy: Young Readers' Edition by Layla Saad book cover

Me and White Supremacy: Young Readers’ Edition by Layla Saad

I am looking forward to hearing Layla Saad discuss this new edition of her bestselling book Me and White Supremacy this coming February 17. This time, Saad has adapted the work to be better suited for teens and pre-teens, along with resources for educators. In February 2020, visited the AWM to discuss the initial release of Me and White Supremacy for adults, and now two years later she will visit us online for the release of the young readers’ edition. On top of that, Saad will be joined by writer and musical artist Kaitlin McGaw of the Alphabet Rockers. It is sure to be a fun, yet important and educational, conversation. Register for the viewing link here.

–Nate, Digital Content Associate

Pauli Murray: Shouting for the Rights of All People book cover

Pauli Murray: Shouting for the Rights of All People by Deborah Nelson Linck

Here is yet another virtual program happening this month that I am quite excited for on February 22. Educator and author Deborah Nelson Linck discusses her forthcoming book about the life and legacy of Pauli Murray, the first introductory and illustrated biography of the civil rights icon. Murray was an activist, lawyer, poet, and Episcopal priest and her commitment to fighting for the rights of women and all, places her firmly in history. A celebration of her life and its significance, including the role of gender identity in her own journey, Deborah Nelson Linck’s book introduces Murray to children ages 6 to 12. Register for the program here!

–Nate, Digital Content Associate

Rewild by Devin Grayson and Yana Adamovic book cover

Rewild by Devin Grayson and Yana Adamovic

From the publisher: “Fables meets The Fisher King in this new original graphic novel from acclaimed comics writer and novelist Devin Grayson with breathtaking illustrative art from rising star Yana Adamovic. Poe is a mysterious young homeless woman and self-proclaimed fairy changeling. Demond is an enterprising engineer with a troubled past. When Poe demands that a park be built to mollify a dangerous new mutation of mythical creatures, ravaged by climate change and furious with the human race, Demond must question not only his own sanity, but the rationality of our entire species as he struggles to save his city—and maybe even the world. But are we past the point of no return?”

–Cassidy, Storyteller

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow book cover

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

From the publisher: “It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one. Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.”

–Allison, Program Director

The Terrible Stories by Lucille Clifton book cover

The Terrible Stories by Lucille Clifton

From the publisher: “National Book Award for Poetry Finalist Lucille Clifton is one of the most distinguished American poets. In The Terrible Stories, her tenth collection of verse, Clifton covers new terrain—cancer and mastectomy, the life of King David, encounters with a vixen fox who is both shaman and muse. Brilliantly honed language, stunning images and sharp rhythms address the whole of human experience: birth, death, children, family, sexuality and spirituality, and community in antebellum and contemporary American culture. Hers is a poetry passionate and wise, ranging from the personal to the biblical to the mythical, not afraid to rage or whisper.”

–Cristina, Guest Services & Operations Supervisor

The Vegetarian by Han Kang book cover

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The book is written in three parts and that allows the writer to look at the story from different perspectives. It is translated from its original Korean and the translation does a great job reflecting the culture and society from where Kang created it. The book is at times disturbing, but always beautiful in its descriptions. It is a story that will haunt the reader.

–Christopher, Director of Operations

Visit our Reading Recommendations page for more book lists.

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