AWM Staff Picks March 2023

AWM Staff Picks: March 2023

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 March staff picks are also available on Bookshop.org, which benefits independent bookstores. We also strongly encourage you to support your local bookstore by visiting them in person or ordering online through them directly.


A Few Days Full of Trouble by Rev. Wheeler Parker, Jr. and Christopher Benson book cover

A Few Days Full of Trouble: Revelations on the Journey to Justice for My Cousin and Best Friend, Emmett Till by Reverend Wheeler Parker, Jr. and Christopher Benson

From the publisher: “What does justice mean in the resolution of a cold case spanning nearly seven decades? In A Few Days Full of Trouble, this question drives a new perspective on the story of Emmett Till, relayed by his cousin and best friend—the Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr., a survivor of the night of terror when young Emmett was taken from his family’s rural Mississippi Delta home in the dead of night. In a hypnotic interplay between uncovered facts and vivid recall, Rev. Parker offers an emotional and suspenseful page-turner, set against a backdrop of reporting errors and manipulations, racial reckoning, and political pushback—and he does so accompanied by never-before-seen findings in the investigation, the soft resurrection of memory, and the battle-tested courage of faith.”

Rev. Parker will join us at the AWM, along with co-author Christopher Benson, to discuss the book and tell his truths. Don’t miss this one. Register for the event here!

—Nate, Digital Content Associate


Because I Could Not Stop for Death: An Emily Dickinson Mystery by Amanda Flower book cover

Because I Could Not Stop for Death: An Emily Dickinson Mystery by Amanda Flower

From the publisher: “Emily Dickinson and her housemaid, Willa Noble, realize there is nothing poetic about murder in this first book in an all-new series from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Amanda Flower… Tragedy soon strikes and Willa’s beloved brother, Henry, is killed in a tragic accident at the town stables… Viewing it first as a puzzle to piece together, Emily offers to help, only to realize that she and Willa are caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse that reveals corruption in Amherst that is generations deep. Some very high-powered people will stop at nothing to keep their profitable secrets even if that means forever silencing Willa and her new mistress….”

Join us March 26 when Flower stops by the AWM to discuss her new mystery novel and share insights into how Emily Dickinson’s life and writing has inspired her own writing career. Register for the event here!

—Nate, Digital Content Associate


Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney book cover

Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney

From the publisher: “Jed―young, gay, black, out of rehab and out of prospects in his hometown of Chicago―flees to the city of his fantasies, a museum of modernism and decadence: Berlin. The paradise that tyranny created, the subsidized city isolated behind the Berlin Wall, is where he’s chosen to become the figure that he so admires, the black American expatriate. Newly sober and nostalgic for the Weimar days of Isherwood and Auden, Jed arrives to chase boys and to escape from what it means to be a black male in America. But history, both personal and political, can’t be avoided with time or distance… An intoxicating, provocative novel of appetite, identity, and self-construction, Black Deutschland tells the story of an outsider, trapped between a painful past and a tenebrous future, in Europe’s brightest and darkest city.”

—Cristina, Guest Services & Operations Supervisor


Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novick book cover

Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

From the publisher: “This alternate version of the Napoleonic War—with dragons!—ramps up as the eighth and penultimate Temeraire novel takes us to Japan, where a shattered Captain Laurence is washed up on the shores remembering nothing of his past save as the captain of the navy ship Reliant. He struggles to remember why he is in Japan and why he has a startling knowledge of the Chinese language. He has no memory whatever of his dragon, Temeraire—which distresses Temeraire greatly when they are finally reunited. But so great is their bond that the two once again find themselves at the forefront of the war against Napoleon…just when all looks most hopeless.”

—Allison, Program Director


Counterfeit by Kristin Chen book cover

Counterfeit by Kristin Chen

Now I must preface that I know nothing about designer bags, nor care to, but I was captivated by the storytelling of this book. It is a compelling read and the twists and turns keep it at a propulsive pace. I also liked that the author mentioned the Aviary in Hong Kong, which is a magical place.

—Christopher, Director of Operations


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles book cover

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

From the publisher: “In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery. Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.”

—Christopher, Director of Operations


Hardware: Season One by Brandon Thomas and Denys Cowan book cover

Hardware: Season One by Brandon Thomas, illustrated by Denys Cowan

“Curtis Metcalf was the brightest shining star of Alva Industries, a brilliant scientist mentored by Edwin Alva since childhood…until the failures of Alva technology at the ‘Big Bang’ disaster threatened to destroy the company, and Alva needed a scapegoat. Now Curtis is on the run from the Dakota police department…but a man as smart—and paranoid—as Curtis takes precautions. With a nearly indestructible suit of armor and remarkable inventions that he never handed over to Alva, Curtis stands determined to do much more than clear his name…he’s going to take the fight back to Alva himself!”

—Cassidy, Storyteller


How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer book cover

How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer

During the 2022 World Cup in December, I voraciously read the dispatches from The Atlantic staff writers who wrote almost daily about the tournament. One of them was Franklin Foer and he also wrote this book, which is fascinating. My love of both soccer and Foer’s writing proved to be a great combination. Here is some more from the publisher: “From Brazil to Bosnia, and Italy to Iran, this is an eye-opening chronicle of how a beautiful sport and its fanatical followers can highlight the fault lines of a society, whether it’s terrorism, poverty, anti-Semitism, or radical Islam—issues that now have an impact on all of us. Filled with blazing intelligence, colorful characters, wry humor, and an equal passion for soccer and humanity, How Soccer Explains the World is an utterly original book that makes sense of our troubled times.”

—Nate, Digital Content Associate


Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers by Taisia Kitaiskaia, illustrated by Katy Horan book cover

Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers by Taisia Kitaiskaia, illustrated by Katy Horan

Taisia Kitaiskaia brings together a collection of incredible, powerful, and magical women writers, from Anais Nin to Zora Neale Hurston, in this beautifully illustrated book. It’s a fantastic mix of well-known, beloved authors and more unknown authors from around the world. Highly recommend it!

We’re also celebrating Women Writers in a new and exciting way at this month’s Get Lit! This month’s event will feature a women writer’s book swap, a scavenger hunt, alcoholic drinks, and more fun. I hope to see you there. Click here to get your tickets now!

—Matt, Social Media Coordinator


New Animal by Ella Baxter book cover

New Animal by Ella Baxter

From the publisher: “Amelia Aurelia is approaching thirty and her closest relationships—other than her mother—are through her dating apps. She works at the family mortuary business as a cosmetic mortician with her eccentric step-father and older brother, whose throuple’s current preoccupation is with what type of snake to adopt. When Amelia’s affectionate mother passes away without warning, she is left without anchor. Fleeing the funeral, she seeks solace with her birth-father in Tasmania and stumbles into the local BDSM community, where her riotous attempts to belong are met with confusion, shock, and empathy.”

—Sam, Storyteller


Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher book cover

Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher

From the publisher: “Stephen’s god died on the longest day of the year… Three years later, Stephen is a broken paladin, living only for the chance to be useful before he dies. But all that changes when he encounters a fugitive named Grace in an alley and witnesses an assassination attempt gone wrong. Now the pair must navigate a web of treachery, beset on all sides by spies and poisoners, while a cryptic killer stalks one step behind. From the Hugo and Nebula Award winning author of Swordheart and The Twisted Ones comes a saga of murder, magic, and love on the far side of despair.”

—Allison, Program Director


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver book cover

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

From the publisher: “The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.”

—Ari, Assistant Director, Operations & Exhibits


Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener book cover

Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener

From the publisher: “In fierce and sumptuous first-person accounts, renowned Peruvian journalist Gabriela Wiener records infiltrating the most dangerous Peruvian prison, participating in sexual exchanges in swingers clubs, traveling the dark paths of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris in the company of transvestites and prostitutes, undergoing a complicated process of egg donation, and participating in a ritual of ayahuasca ingestion in the Amazon jungle―all while taking us on inward journeys that explore immigration, maternity, fear of death, ugliness, and threesomes. Fortunately, our eagle-eyed voyeur emerges from her narrative forays unscathed and ready to take on the kinks, obsessions, and messiness of our lives. Sexographies is an eye-opening, kamikaze journey across the contours of the human body and mind.”

—Kaleena, Development Manager


Something is Killing the Children, Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Werther Dell’Edera book cover

Something is Killing the Children: Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Werther Dell’Edera

From the publisher: “When the children of Archer’s Peak—a sleepy town in the heart of America—begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. Most children never return, but the ones that do have terrible stories—impossible details of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope of finding and eliminating the threat is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to be the only one who sees what they can see. Her name is Erica Slaughter. She kills monsters. That is all she does, and she bears the cost because it must be done.”

—Matt, Social Media Coordinator


Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang book cover

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

From the publisher: “Stories of Your Life and Others delivers dual delights of the very, very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar, often presenting characters who must confront sudden change—the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens—with some sense of normalcy. With sharp intelligence and humor, Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty, but also by beauty and wonder. An award-winning collection from one of today’s most lauded writers, Stories of Your Life and Others is a contemporary classic.”

—Kaleena, Development Manager


Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving book cover

Tales from the Alhambra by Washington Irving

From the publisher: “Irving is best remembered in this country for his collections of American folklore, like the stories of Rip Van Winkle and the Headless Horseman, but in Spain they remember him for the Alhambra stories. Irving lived in thel old Moorish palace at a time when it was a neglected ruin, and his wonderful descriptions, interspersed with the folk-tales that he collected from the people of Granada, helped to spark interest in repairing and restoring the monument. The folk tales, told in Irving’s inimitable, witty style, usually deal with romantic elopements, or buried treasure, or both. Fantasy, history and folklore come together in this beautiful collection.”

—Cristina, Guest Services & Operations Supervisor


The Wild Swans by Peg Kerr book cover

The Wild Swans by Peg Kerr

From the publisher: “This novel focuses on two outcasts on two journeys in two eras. In 1689 England, Lady Eliza Grey’s 11 brothers are turned into swans. Rejected by her father, Eliza is flown to America by her brothers where she has a chance to save them—until she is accused of witchcraft. In the second story, set in 1981 New York, Elias Latham has AIDS, is banished from his father’s house, and must learn to live on the streets. Like Eliza, Elias struggles to understand the suffering he must endure.”

—Matt, Social Media Coordinator


Visit our Reading Recommendations page for more book lists.

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