Select one of the keywords
Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian    by Avi Steinberg order for
Running the Books
by Avi Steinberg
Order:  USA  Can
Anchor, 2011 (2010)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Avi Steinberg has written a vivid memoir of two years in his life. Feeling unappreciated and underpaid as a free-lance obituary writer for the Boston Globe, he spots an ad on Craigs List for a prison librarian. He answers the ad, and the result is described in this work.

Avi learns a lot in prison, not only about life there, individual prisoners, the function of a library in that setting, but also about himself as a former Orthodox Jew who has strayed.

Through Avi's efforts to relate to his patrons, whether as a librarian, teacher or research assistant, we become acquainted with many who are incarcerated and learn their stories, ambitions and language. And there is much to think about, whether on a philosophical or religious level, for Avi and for us. For example, what does time mean in prison? 'All I got is time.' According to Avi, that sentence means not only 'I'm in prison, I'm never too busy,' but also, besides time, there is nothing else that is meaningful or that can be shared.

As Avi ponders these issues we too are exposed to them and their meanings in ways pretty unusual for most of us. At the end of the book, Avi has perhaps come closer to what he must do with his life, and we are the richer for being allowed to accompany him in this.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews