Staff Picks May 2022

AWM Staff Picks: May 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 May 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.


Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman book cover

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

According to my parents, I had this book memorized as a child. Before I could read, I could recite the entirety of P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother? I recently reconnected with the book for last weekend’s Little Squirrels Storytime. You can check it out on our Instagram and TikTok.

–Matt, Social Media Coordinator


The Candy House by Jennifer Egan book cover

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

The follow up, companion novel really, to her award-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad. Jennifer’s narrative creativity is once again on display with this book. Read it. Just read it.

–Christopher, Director of Operations


The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath book cover

The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath

This month I revisited The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath, for which she was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In these fascinating poems I found “Black Rook in Rainy Weather” expresses the type of spring I’ve observed this year. I also had an amazing conversation about Plath with Heather Clark, author of Red Comet: The Short and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath for the most recent episode of our podcast Nation of Writers. You can listen to it here or wherever you listen to podcasts!

–Cristina, Guest Services & Operations Supervisor


Life of Pi adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti from the novel by Yann Martel book cover

Life of Pi adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti from the novel by Yann Martel

After I watched the 2012 film adaption of Life of Pi, all I could think about was how incredible the story would translate to the stage. The idea was only reinforced a few years ago when I read through Yann Martel’s amazing book. This adaptation of Life of Pi is a truly original and thrilling adaptation of the novel. I had such a blast reading this script and someday I really hope to be able to see it performed live.

–Matt, Social Media Coordinator


Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett book cover

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

From the publisher: “Detective-story master Dashiell Hammett gives us yet another unforgettable read in Red Harvest: When the last honest citizen of Poisonville was murdered, the Continental Op stayed on the punish the guilty—even if that meant taking on an entire town. Red Harvest is more than a superb crime novel: it is a classic exploration of corruption and violence in the American grain.

–Cassidy, Storyteller


A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean book cover

A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean

I grew up on rivers and have always felt a sort of spiritual connection to them. Recently, I lost a friend, Jonny, who was swept up in a strong current of a river doing one of the things he loved most: fly fishing. I first read A River Runs Through It in college and had been thinking about it ever since I got the news of Jonny’s death. This novella on the surface is about fly fishing, but with Jonny on my mind I found this story to be so much more. The religion of fly fishing, and rivers in general. And family. And how we remember those we love who are gone. This story helped me honor Jonny and remember him and his singular light.

–Nate, Digital Content Associate


Studying with Miss Bishop by Dana Gioia book cover

Studying with Miss Bishop by Dana Gioia

A memoir about studying poetry with widely varying teachers, including Elizabeth Bishop. For anyone who took small English seminars in college or had a professor who knew the author you were studying, you’ll relate and geek out about the granular study of language and poetry, and the eccentricities of writers.

–Linda, Director of Development


This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki book cover

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

I recently re-read This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki and I was reminded of why I love this book so much. It is a beautiful coming of age graphic novel about two friends during a summer at the beach. While I think it is a great YA book, there is also so much subtext there for adults. I also recently found out that it has been banned quite frequently for showing LGBTQ+ representation, which is abhorrent, so I think everyone should find this or another banned book to check out from their library this month.

–Ari, Assistant Director, Operations & Exhibits


Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens book cover

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

From the publisher: “For years, rumors of the ‘Marsh Girl’ have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.”

–Catherine, Signature Events & Donor Relations


Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside by Nick Offerman book cover

Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside by Nick Offerman

This is a fun read, as one might expect from a comedic actor, but it is much more. And there is the fun addition of his hiking companions Jeff Tweedy and George Saunders as they discuss everything and then some.

–Christopher, Director of Operations


Who's Black and Why book cover

Who’s Black and Why?: A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Andrew S. Curran

We recently hosted editor and Andrew S. Curran and biological anthropologist Nina G. Jablonski for a fascinating discussion about this book. “The first translation and publication of sixteen submissions to the notorious eighteenth-century Bordeaux essay contest on the cause of black skin—an indispensable chronicle of the rise of scientifically based, anti-Black racism.” The two discuss the essays in the book, how they were compiled and edited, and the present day implications of them. You can watch the conversation here, or listen to a condensed version of it on the AWM Author Talks podcast here.

–Nate, Digital Content Associate


Visit our Reading Recommendations page for more book lists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to content