2011 books of the year – Running the Books

On to the best non-fiction books of the year 2011.

Running the Books by Avi Steinberg. Steinberg’s memoir about his time working in a coed Boston prison library conveys the tension, paranoia, hope and hopelessness that is prevalent in that environment. He gives depth to his characters, both civilian and con, while describing his own internal struggles to find his life path as a lapsed Orthodox Jew from whom much was expected. It reminded me of the visits a group of us took many years ago to the minimum security facility in Pleasanton to play tennis against the inmates. Also of note is Ben Wiseman’s excellent cover illustration using multi-colored date stamps to create a portrait of Steinberg.

For a darker, even more intimate look at life behind prison walls, I recommend Jeffrey Archer’s three-volume memoir, A Prison Diary, detailing his time in British prisons following his perjury conviction in 2001.

For all my previous “books of the year” lists, see my dedicated page for these titles.


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