AWM Staff Picks June 2022

AWM Staff Picks: June 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 June 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.

The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers book cover

The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers

From the publisher: “‘A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest,’ says the narrator of Walter Moers’s epic adventure. ‘What about the Minipirates? What about the Hobgoblins, the Spiderwitch, the Babbling Billows, the Troglotroll, the Mountain Maggot…Mine is a tale of mortal danger and eternal love, of hair’s breadth, last-minute escapes.’ Welcome to the fantastic world of Zamonia, populated by all manner of extraordinary characters. It’s a land of imaginative lunacy and supreme adventure, wicked satire and epic fantasy, all mixed together, turned on its head, and lavishly illustrated by the author.”

–Matt, Social Media Coordinator

Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution by Elie Mystal book cover

Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution by Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal presented at the recent American Writers Festival and after attending his program I simply had to get the book. Allow me to let the publisher describe it better than I could: “Allow Me to Retort is an easily digestible argument about what rights we have, what rights Republicans are trying to take away, and how to stop them. Mystal explains how to protect the rights of women and people of color instead of cowering to the absolutism of gun owners and bigots. He explains the legal way to stop everything from police brutality to political gerrymandering, just by changing a few judges and justices. He strips out all of the fancy jargon conservatives like to hide behind and lays bare the truth of their project to keep America forever tethered to its slaveholding past.”

–Carey, President

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams by William Carlos Williams book cover

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, edited by A. Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan

I go back to William Carlos Williams often when I need a little poetry during the day. I find his writing very compelling and I often can’t believe that he had time to be a general practitioner and a poet.

–Christopher, Director of Operations

The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin book cover

The Kingdom of Gods by N. K. Jemisin

This is the final book in a trilogy, and I was SO pleased with it. N. K. Jemisin is a master who never lets me down, honestly. I’d highly recommend starting The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the first book in the series. A fun thing about this series is that the first book is from the point of view of an unknown noble thrown into royal and godly drama. The second book picks up immediately after the first, but from the point of view of an artist who knows none of the characters from the first. This third book was a lot of fun because it was from a god’s point of view, which meant some funky time jumps and general weirdness in thinking and language.

–Ari, Assistant Director, Operations & Exhibits

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton book cover

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

I picked up this book at the American Writers Festival after hearing Dhonielle Clayton and Jacqueline Woodson talk about the importance of young readers, especially young readers of color, seeing themselves represented positively in the books they read. I got it as a birthday present for my niece, Zanabella, who turns 11 in July. But truth be told I could not wait that long to hear about the story…so I started reading it myself! It is very fun and intriguing so far, and I recommend it for all ages. It doesn’t challenge my scattered, pandemic-addled adult brain but is still engaging and I think (hope) it will be a fun summer read for my niece too. And then we can talk about it together!

–Nate, Digital Content Associate

The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams book cover

The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams

From the publisher: “Williams wrote: ‘This is a play about love in its purest terms.’ It is also Williams’s robust and persuasive plea for endurance and resistance in the face of human suffering. The earthy widow Maxine Faulk is proprietress of a rundown hotel at the edge of a Mexican cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean where the defrocked Rev. Shannon, his tour group of ladies from a West Texas women’s college, the self-described New England spinster Hannah Jelkes and her ninety-seven-year-old grandfather, Jonathan Coffin (‘the world’s oldest living and practicing poet’), a family of grotesque Nazi vacationers, and an iguana tied by its throat to the veranda, all find themselves assembled for a rainy and turbulent night.”

–Cristina, Guest Services & Operations Supervisor

November 9 by Colleen Hoover book cover

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

From the publisher: “Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in Los Angeles together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist. Can Ben’s relationship with Fallon—and simultaneously his novel—be considered a love story if it ends in heartbreak?”

–Catherine, Signature Events & Donor Relations

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle book cover

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

From the publisher: “The New York Times bestselling author of In Five Years returns with a powerful novel about the transformational love between mothers and daughters set on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast…Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and a daughter. With her signature ‘heartbreaking, redemptive, and authentic’ (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.”

–Catherine, Signature Events & Donor Relations

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

From the publisher: “Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word…Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations―a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….”

–Catherine, Signature Events & Donor Relations

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett book cover

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white…What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

–Catherine, Signature Events & Donor Relations

Visit our Reading Recommendations page for more book lists.

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