Heather's Reviews > Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian

Running the Books by Avi Steinberg
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's review
Feb 08, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: crime, funny, books-and-libraries, memoir
Read from September 19 to 22, 2011

399 pages

Pimps make the best librarians. Psycho killers, the worst. Ditto con men.

So begins this memoir, and I loved all the rest. Some of it's funny and some of it's heartbreaking, but it's all fascinating. I find prison culture in general very interesting, even more so from a librarian's perspective since I am a librarian myself. I really like Avi's writing style; I think he uses the perfect tones for both the touching and the hilarious parts, and he does a great job of humanizing the inmates without being cheesy about it. In some cases, he has to reconcile the kind, interesting people he gets to know in the library with the violent crimes he knows they have committed. He's honest about his struggles to give the inmates a chance without being flippant about the things they've done or completely letting his guard down. This is a book that will stick with me for a while, and I hope Avi Steinberg writes more books!
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