American Writers Museum staff picks October 2020

AWM Staff Picks: October

Reading Recommendations from the staff of the American Writers Museum.

Here’s what we’ve been reading recently. See any of your favorites? Let us know what you’re reading in the comments!

Our October 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.


Cash Cab: A Collection of the Best Trivia from the Hit Discovery Show by Discovery Communications

Cash Cab: A Collection of the Best Trivia from the Hit Discovery Show by Discovery Communications

During quarantine, my friends and I have begun hosting trivias for each other over Zoom, which really got me interested in challenging my brain with useless knowledge. This book has hundreds of questions about all different topics and has been really fun to work through. And I was able to do it all without ever having to hail a cab!

–Matt, Storyteller


Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

From the publisher: “Kim Gordon, founding member of Sonic Youth, fashion icon, and role model for a generation of women, now tells her story—a memoir of life as an artist, of music, marriage, motherhood, independence, and as one of the first women of rock and roll, written with the lyricism and haunting beauty of Patti Smith’s Just Kids.”

–Cristina, Facilities Supervisor


Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College by Jesse Wegman

Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College by Jesse Wegman

As we inch closer and closer to the upcoming November elections, I wanted to learn more about the system we use to select the president. Spoiler alert: it’s messed up. This book provides a thorough look at both the Founding Fathers’ original intent and the modern day impacts on our government and society. If you’ve ever been confused why a vote by a Wyomingite carries 3.6 more influence than a vote by Californian, this book is exactly what you’re looking for. It not only points out the complex issues with the current system, but proposes multiple paths forward toward a more fair and equal election.

–Matt, Storyteller


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Everyone should read this book.

From the publisher: “Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers and “should further cement Whitehead as one of his generation’s best” (Entertainment Weekly).

–Christopher, Director of Operations


Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton

Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton

From the publisher: “Tracing the birth of a revolutionary, Huey P. Newton’s famous and oft-quoted autobiography is as much a manifesto as a portrait of the inner circle of America’s Black Panther Party. From Newton’s impoverished childhood on the streets of Oakland to his adolescence and struggles with the system, from his role in the Black Panthers to his solitary confinement in the Alameda County Jail, Revolutionary Suicide is unrepentant and thought-provoking in its portrayal of inspired radicalism.”

–Cassidy, Storyteller


The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

I am about three-quarters of the way through this gripping spy novel that is also so much more than that, dealing with themes of refugees trying to find a home, the inherent duality of a spy, and the multiple sides of any given war. It begs the question, is anyone ever in the right when it comes to war?

Viet Thanh Nguyen, himself a refugee of the Vietnam War, is also featured in our special exhibit My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today. You can learn more about him here on our blog.

–Nate, Content & Communications Coordinator


The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

From the publisher: “At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls…But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored…and one of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence.”

–Cristina, Facilities Supervisor


Visit our Reading Recommendations page for more book lists.

One thought on “AWM Staff Picks: October

  1. Cheryl Powell says:

    I agree with Christopher that The Nickel Boys should be required reading.

    Right now I’m reading A Mad Catastrophe by Geoffrey Wawo. It’s about the collapse of the Habsburg empire in WWI. I’m 2 chapters in and have no idea how the empire lasted as long as it did.

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