Avi Steinberg did not plan on becoming a prison librarian. In fact, he once planned on devoting his life to the study of the Torah and Talmud. But after a Harvard education, a falling-off from Orthodox Judaism, and a brief career as an obituary writer, he finds himself on the staff of a Boston “correctional” facility. The experience challenges him in ways he could never have expected. He spends his day cracking jokes with pimps, scouring the library stacks for forbidden messages between prisoners (and secretly saving them), leading prison creative writing groups, and struggling to balance his professional work, his almost-friendships with inmates, his often-dashed hopes for the inmates’ futures, and his knowledge of the terrible crimes many have committed.
Running the Books is both funny and touching. It is entirely character driven, not always chronological, and occasionally confusing. But if you enjoy reflective memoirs and character studies, I definitely recommend this book. I greatly enjoyed it.