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 November 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.
Admissions by Joshua Harmon
From the publisher: “Sherri Rosen-Mason is head of the admissions department at a New England prep school, fighting to diversify the student body. Alongside her husband, the school’s headmaster, they’ve largely succeeded in bringing a stodgy institution into the twenty-first century. But when their only son sets his sights on an Ivy League university, personal ambition collides with progressive values, with convulsive results. A no-holds-barred look at privilege, power, and the perils of hypocrisy.”
The Every by Dave Eggers
From the publisher: “From the award-winning, bestselling author of The Circle comes an exciting new follow-up. When the world’s largest search engine/social media company, the Circle, merges with the planet’s dominant ecommerce site, it creates the richest and most dangerous–and, oddly enough, most beloved–monopoly ever known: the Every…Studded with unforgettable characters, outrageous outfits, and lacerating set-pieces, this companion to The Circle blends abusrdity and terror, satire and suspense, while keeping the reader in apprehensive excitement about the fate of the company–and the human animal.”
The Fear of Everything by John McNally
From the publisher: “A magician shows up unexpectedly at a grade school. Retirees answer phone calls from lonely children. A sleep study assistant speaks to a patient about his own afterlife experiences. Twenty years ago, Richard Russo wrote of Troublemakers, ‘John McNally is an electrifying writer whose stories burrow under the skin. His world becomes our world, his way of seeing, ours. Resistance is futile.’ The same is true of these nine stories that are by turns fantastical, hilarious, and heartbreaking.”
–Cristina, Guest Services & Operations Supervisor
Foundation by Isaac Asimov
From the publisher: “For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future–to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save humankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire–both scientists and scholars–and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation. The Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are among the most influential in the history of science fiction, celebrated for their unique blend of breathtaking action, daring ideas, and extensive worldbuilding. In Foundation, Asimov has written a timely and timeless novel of the best–and worst–that lies in humanity, and the power of even a few courageous souls to shine a light in a universe of darkness.
–Christopher, Director of Operations
Heartstopper: Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman
Who doesn’t love a classic strangers to friends to lovers story? Heartstopper has been on my reading list for a while and I was lucky to pick up a copy at a used book sale this month. I’m pretty sure I read the whole volume in just one night… And then re-read it the next one. If you’re looking for a heartwarming, queer, YA graphic novel/webcomic series then Heartstopper is for you. I can’t wait to get started on the next volume.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
From the publisher: “Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.”
–Noelle, Education Program Coordinator
On Girlhood: 15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library edited by Glory Edim
From the publisher: “Since founding the beloved Well-Read Black Girl book club in 2015, Glory Edim has emerged as a literary tastemaker for a new generation. Continuing her life’s work to brighten and enrich American reading lives through the work of legendary Black authors, she now launches her Well-Read Black Girl Library Series with On Girlhood. This meticulously selected anthology features a wide range of unique voices, finally illuminating a distinctly robust sector of contemporary literature: groundbreaking short stories that explore the thin yet imperative line between Black girlhood and womanhood.”
I had the honor to speak with Glory and Nikki Giovanni about the life and legacy of Maya Angelou for an episode of our Nation of Writers podcast. You can listen to that episode here. I know I’ll be ordering On Girlhood for as a present for my nieces this holiday season!
–Nate, Content & Communications Coordinator
Passing by Nella Larsen
A novella written in the 1920s provides a frank look at race through the eyes of two childhood friends that cross paths as adults. Read the book before watching the beautiful film written and directed by Rebecca Hall which starts streaming on Netflix November 10th. And then watch Hall discuss the film and the writing process with Dr. Ivy Wilson at the American Writers Museum on our YouTube channel. The recent program is available here.
–Christopher, Director of Operations
The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl
From the publisher: “This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters…the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement.”
–Karie, Director of Marketing & Private Events
The Trials of Adeline Turner by Angela Terry
From the publisher: “From Charming Falls Apart author Angela Terry comes a story about finding the courage to face your past, be true to your heart, and live your best life. Fans of Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin will enjoy cheering for Adeline Turner as she navigates the twists and turns of her newly complicated life in this fun, heartwarming novel.”
Join me and the Chicago Council of the AWM for an upcoming online fundraising event with Angela! We’ll chat with Terry on January 13 about her new book, her writing process, and the life of a writer. All proceeds from this event will go directly towards our education initiatives, such as sponsoring free field trips and giving away books to children and families. Register for the program here.
–Catherine, Signature Events & Donor Relations Manager
When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson edited by Ellen Datlow
From the publisher: “Shirley Jackson is a seminal writer of horror and mystery fiction, whose legacy resonates globally today. Chilling, human, poignant and strange, her stories have inspired a generation of writers and readers…A collection of new and exclusive short stories inspired by, and in tribute to, Shirley Jackson. Featuring Joyce Carol Oates, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Richard Kadrey, Stephen Graham Jones, Elizabeth Hand and more.”
Datlow was also on the recent episode of Nation of Writers about, you guessed it, Shirley Jackson. You can listen to that episode here, which also includes Jackson scholar Dr. Bernice Murphy and Jackson’s eldest child Laurence Jackson Hyman.
–Nate, Content & Communications Coordinator