Running the Books: the Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg

running the booksRunning the Books is Avi Steinberg’s memoir of his two years as a librarian at Boston’s South Bay prison, during which he teaches creative writing classes, befriends inmates, starts feuds with corrections officers, and discovers countless “kites” — messages between inmates that are hidden within the pages of library books.  The stories Steinberg tells are a mixture of grit and whimsy; the harsh realities of prison life rub up against the tragic and heartwarming, often in the same scenes. 

Quote:
“Starting from my first week in prison, I’d noticed the phenomenon, though I wasn’t sure what it was.  As I walked through the prison yard, I’d spied male inmates standing at their barred windows, furiously signaling skyward.  I followed the invisible trajectory of these messages and found their recipients standing in barred windows way up in the Tower — the women inmates.  Through the silent darkness of the prison night, there were at least five conversations soaring back and forth.”

Author:
Avi Steinberg was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Boston and Cleveland.  Running the Books is his first book.

Published:  2010
Length:  393 pages
Set in:  Boston, Massachusetts, United States

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