American Writers Museum staff book recommendations April 2020

AWM Staff Reads: April

Reading Recommendations from the staff of the American Writers Museum.

April was a month. Believe it or not just one month! And every month it is our pleasure to share what we’ve been reading with you. The connective power of language and the special ability a good book has to bring us together have never been more apparent than right now. So, here’s what the AWM Staff has been reading recently and we’d love to hear what you’re reading too. Let us know in the comments!

This list is also available on, 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.

The Beautiful Ones by Prince

The Beautiful Ones by Prince

An amazing look into the origin story of Prince: the man, the myth, the legendary soulful, multi-instrumentalist. Most of the book is in his own words and it is full of pictures and lyric sheets too. The book allows the reader to get to know him much better, but then that leads to missing him all the more. It made me remember witnessing his skills at an after-concert show that he put on at the Metro. He was so gifted.

–Christopher, Director of Operations

Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson

Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson

This is a must-read for any political junkies out there. Thompson makes you wonder how much has really changed since 1972.

–Cassidy, Storyteller

The Hotel Neversink by Adam O'Fallon Price

The Hotel Neversink by Adam O’Fallon Price

From the publisher: “Told by an unforgettable chorus of Sikorsky family members―a matriarch, a hotel maid, a traveling comedian, the hotel detective, and many others―The Hotel Neversink is the gripping portrait of a Jewish family in the Catskills over the course of a century. With an unerring eye and with prose both comic and tragic, Adam O’Fallon-Price details one man’s struggle for greatness, no matter the cost, and a long-held family secret that threatens to undo it all.”

–Matt, Storyteller

How Long 'til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin

How Long ‘til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin

To try to summarize this short story collection and explain how it made me feel would be doing an injustice to N. K. Jemisin. Instead, here’s this passage that particularly resonated with me: “None of them would be [the same]—but it was important to him that his fellows hold on, take the opportunity to adapt if they could. The world had not ended, after all. The stuff of which he and his kind had been made had not vanished. The thinker did not matter, so long as thought remained.”

–Nate, Content & Communications Coordinator

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

From the publisher: “In the House in the Dark of the Woods is a novel of psychological horror and suspense told in Laird Hunt’s characteristically lyrical prose style. It is the story of a bewitching, a betrayal, a master huntress and her quarry. It is a story of anger, of evil, of hatred and of redemption. It is the story of a haunting, a story that makes up the bedrock of American mythology, told in a vivid way you will never forget.”

–Cristina, Facilities Supervisor

Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O'Hara

Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O’Hara

From the publisher: “Frank O’Hara was one of the great poets of the twentieth century and, along with such widely acclaimed writers as Denise Levertov, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, and Gary Snyder, a crucial contributor to what Donald Allen termed the New American Poetry, ‘which, by its vitality alone, became the dominant force in the American poetic tradition.’ This collection is a reissue of a volume first published by Grove Press in 1957, and it demonstrates beautifully the flawless rhythm underlying O’Hara’s conviction that to write poetry, indeed to live, ‘you just go on your nerve.'”

–Cristina, Facilities Supervisor

The Rocky Horror Show with book, lyrics, and music by Richard O’Brien

The basis for the 1975 cult classic film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, O’Brien wrote the show as an out-of-work actor in 1970s London by combining elements of science fiction and B horror movies. If you love the movie or just love to have a little fun, I would highly recommend reading it.

–Matt, Storyteller

She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

I found this book in my little free library and was drawn in by the story of the OG Underground Railroad Conductor. The author is a History Professor, and the book is a good complement to fictional stories that take place during slavery, like Beloved.

–Linda, Director of Development

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Admittedly I’m biased here, but I instantly picked up this book as soon as I saw the cover pose the question, “Are you a coward, or are you a librarian?” Even those not pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science degree should enjoy being transported to a futuristic Western world where queer librarians are society’s resistance leaders. What more could you want from a premise?

–Courtney, Storyteller

Vanishing Hour by Lisa King

Vanishing Hour by Lisa King

Ok, this was a free iBook that just came out in March and I am only halfway through it, but it is compelling in that it is about an event that wipes out much of the world population and the survivors struggle with the new order of things. So, that is maybe not for everyone in the current situation, but I had already read Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, so where to go from there, right?

–Christopher, Director of Operations

Visit our Reading Recommendations page for more book lists.

2 thoughts on “AWM Staff Reads: April

  1. Linda DeLisio says:

    This list is awesome. I would like a list of great books that have been put on CD’s and where to get them.

    • American Writers Museum says:

      Thanks for the suggestion Linda!
      I’m not sure about books on CD, but many libraries actually also check out audio books, even while we’re sheltering-in-place. You might be able to contact you local library to see if they participate. You can also check out this blog to see other ways you can access books online from home (though not all have audio components)

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