07 June 2013

Running the Books: Memoirs of a Prison Librarian, by Avi Steinberg

I learned about this book after reading a New Yorker article by the author, and immediately bought it. I'm really interested in prisons and what life there is like, and have long considered teaching a class in one or getting involved in some kind of program that helps former inmates adjust to life outside. So unsurprisingly, I found this book incredibly fascinating, albeit not as well written as I might have liked. Oftentimes I caught myself thinking "ok Avi, enough about you, tell me about the stuff I'm actually interested in." The episodic nature of the book is a mixed success; I liked the way some stories were left to sit for awhile, to be returned to later, but other times it seemed I was dealing with a collection of fragments that weren't woven together well. Actually, I'm somewhat inclined to blame the editor. To be honest, the book is WAY too long. A lot of the material could be cut (and potentially used for a different book). That said, to me at least, it was still very much a worthwhile read, and at moments, packed a real punch emotionally.

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