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Monday, July 8, 2019

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian

When you find yourself at a wedding, telling people you write obituaries for the start wondering what you're actually doing with your life. For Avi Steinberg, that's exactly how he ended up applying for the prison librarian + creative writing teacher position.

I honestly think Avi wrote this book more for himself than for anyone else.
It felt like he kind of lost himself for awhile and needed a very drastic change of pace, which apparently meant walking up to the menacing door of "The Bay" in Boston for an interview he wasn't even sure he qualified for.

Throughout the book, we meet all sorts of people from all walks of life. Avi regularly spent his days with murderers, rapists, drug dealers, prostitutes and pimps. But to him, these were just his library patrons and students in class. He eventually realized that not all criminals are bad people and some of them he even looked at as friends. Sometimes it was hard to find the line between the two. Regardless, this book is filled with "kites" found around the library, life lessons he's learned from inmates, but most importantly what he found for himself. Honestly, I'm not sure what he discovered from working in prison. 

One of my dreams is to work with inmates, whether it be in a prison or a juvenile detention center...I want to be there. I want to help these people get their life back on track like Avi tried with Jessica, a mother who found her 18 year old son on the prison basketball court. How he helped Chudney find recipes for his fictional cooking show, Thug Sizzle. How he proofread and wrote a prologue to C.C. Too Sweet's book "Memoirs of a Pimp." I hope to make a change in inmate culture and life and give them someone from the system they can view without contempt, someone they can trust.

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