Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Running the Books

Running the Books, by Avi Steinberg is subtitled, "The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian". On the surface, it's an interesting look at how the author spent two years as a librarian in one of Boston's prisons. Avi Steinberg was an obituary writer and had no previous training or experience as a librarian. He answered a want ad and the next thing he knew he had landed an interview.

But this book is about far more than that. It is a poignant examination of people. Not just any people, but the sort of people that are in prison as well as the guards, the prison staff, and the author himself.

I was attracted to this book for two main reasons: 1) I like books and anything to do with them, and 2) I am always up for learning about aspects of life that I've never personally encountered. Prison life has long been an enigma for me and although I enjoyed watching "Prison Break" on TV I assumed that wasn't normal prison life. Parts of this book are humorous, parts sad, and parts downright disturbing but I think the author really gets down to the nitty gritty of how the people interact, especially with him. We see the ugliness of prison politics, how the author himself tries to do the right thing only to get caught up in it himself. We see a wide variety of inmate personalities, and dive in deep to see a handful of them up close. I won't go into details so as not to provide spoilers but rest assured many of the inmates’ stories are tragic. Along the way, we learn about the author's own life experiences both inside the prison library and outside. One can't help but to wonder how we, the readers, would handle some of the situations he encounters and how they would affect us and our outlook on life.

This one will be on sale in the US in October 2010.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire