Running the Books

Running the Books : The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian

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Avi Steinberg is stumped. After defecting from yeshiva to attend Harvard, he has nothing but a senior thesis on Bugs Bunny to show for himself. While his friends and classmates advance in the world, Steinberg remains stuck at a crossroads, his "romantic" existence as a freelance obituary writer no longer cutting it. Seeking direction (and dental insurance) Steinberg takes a job running the library counter at a Boston prison. He is quickly drawn into the community of outcasts that forms among his bookshelves--an assortment of quirky regulars, including con men, pimps, minor prophets, even ghosts--all searching for the perfect book and a connection to the outside world. Steinberg recounts their daily dramas with heartbreak and humor in this one-of-a-kind memoir--a piercing exploration of prison culture and an entertaining tale of one young man's earnest attempt to find his place in the more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 132.08 x 200.66 x 25.4mm | 317.51g
  • Anchor Books
  • United States
  • English
  • 0767931319
  • 9780767931311
  • 436,865

Review quote

A "San Francisco Chronicle "Best Book of the Year "Acidly funny. . . . As involving, and as layered, as a good coming-of-age novel. . . . Steinberg proves to be a keen observer, and a morally serious one. His memoir is wriggling and alive." --"The New York Times" "Hysterical, ingenious, illuminating. I wish I had left yeshiva for prison right away." --Gary Shteyngart, bestselling author of "Super Sad True Love Story" "A terrific book. . . . There's plenty of humor here, for sure, but Steinberg, in tender, understated prose, also brings out the inmates' irrepressible humanity." --"San Francisco Chronicle" "I haven't laughed this hard since David Sedaris's "Me Talk Pretty One Day."" --Susan Salter Reynolds, "Los Angeles Times" "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." --The Associated Press "A freewheeling meditation on the nature of incarceration and a moving chronicle of a population that remains, by design, hidden from view." --"The""Boston Globe" "Heartbreaking and entertaining. . . . Steinberg's compassion for those he mentored clearly comes through. Yet, this is far from a preachy memoir on prison reform. It's a young man's blundering, but touching, journey to find a place in the world. Fortunately, he makes us laugh and--sometimes cry--in the process." "--The Seattle Times" "A moving account of the boredom, deprivation and infernal bleakness of prison . . . [filled] with unexpected bits of comedy and insight." --"USA Today" "[A] page turner. . . . Wry, captivating. . . . An impressive account of a world that few readers of this newspapshow more

About Avi Steinberg

Avi Steinberg was born in Jerusalem and raised in Cleveland and Boston. His work has appeared in the "Boston Globe," the "New York Times Magazine," "Salon," and other more