Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian

Hardback

By (author) Avi Steinberg

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Paperback $13.59
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 416 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 216mm x 36mm | 599g
  • Publication date: 19 October 2010
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0385529090
  • ISBN 13: 9780385529099
  • Sales rank: 343,717

Product description

Avi Steinberg is stumped. After defecting from yeshiva to Harvard, he has only a senior thesis essay on Bugs Bunny to show for his effort. While his friends and classmates advance in the world, he remains stuck at a crossroads, unable to meet the lofty expectations of his Orthodox Jewish upbringing. And his romantic existence as a freelance obituary writer just isn't cutting it. Seeking direction--and dental insurance--Steinberg takes a job as a librarian in a tough Boston prison. The prison library counter, his new post, attracts con men, minor prophets, ghosts, and an assortment of quirky regulars searching for the perfect book and a connection to the outside world. There's an anxious pimp who solicits Steinberg's help in writing a memoir. A passionate gangster who dreams of hosting a cooking show titled "Thug Sizzle." A disgruntled officer who instigates a major feud over a Post-it note. A doomed ex-stripper who asks Steinberg to orchestrate a reunion with her estranged son, himself an inmate. Over time, Steinberg is drawn into the accidental community of outcasts that has formed among his bookshelves -- a drama he recounts with heartbreak and humor. But when the struggles of the prison library -- between life and death, love and loyalty -- become personal, Steinberg is forced to take sides. "Running the Books" is a trenchant exploration of prison culture and an entertaining tale of one young man's earnest attempt to find his place in the world while trying not to get fired in the process.

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Author information

AVI STEINBERG was born in Jerusalem and raised in Cleveland and Boston. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the New York Review of Books, Salon, and other publications.

Review quote

"I haven't laughed this hard since David Sedaris' "Me Talk Pretty One Day."" --"Los Angeles Times " "Acidly funny. . . . Mr. Steinberg proves to be a keen observer, and a morally serious one. His memoir is wriggling and alive -- as involving, and as layered, as a good coming-of-age novel." --"The New York Times ""An impressive account of a world that few readers of this newspaper will recognize [written] in wry, captivating prose." --"The Economist ""Hilarious enough to make you want to read its lines to anyone who happens to be around, and profound enough to have you care deeply about many of the men and women whose crimes have brought them to Boston's Suffolk County House of Correction. . . . There's plenty of humor here, for sure, but Steinberg, in tender, understated prose, also brings out the inmates' irrepressible humanity." --"San Francisco Chronicle ""Steinberg's writing is funny, poignant and accessible. He's the guy you want in front of the campfire because he knows how to tell a good story. . . . The characters pop off the pages -- not because they're stereotypical or overly sentimental, but because they're real. Some get saved, others get even more lost, but Steinberg brings them all equally to life -- for better or worse." --"Associated Press ""Captivating. . . . Steinberg writes a stylish prose that blends deadpan wit with an acute moral seriousness. The result is a fine portrait of prison life and the thwarted humanity that courses through it." --"Publishers Weekly ""Hysterical, ingenious, illuminating. I wish I had left yeshiva for prison right away." --Gary Shteyngart, bestselling author of "Super Sad True Love Story" "This wonderful memoir is about a prison library, but it's also about love, religion, Shakespeare, murder, the human condition and Ali G. This is a book for everybody who loves books -- felons and non-felons alike." --A. J. Jacobs, bestselling author of "The Ye