Running the Books

  • by Avi Steinberg
  • Narrated by Dustin Rubin
  • 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 amiable pimp who solicits Steinberg’s help in writing a memoir. An industrious gangster who dreams of hosting a cooking show titled Thug Sizzle. A disgruntled officer who instigates a major feud over a Post-it note. An 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.
Running the Books is a trenchant personal 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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What the Critics Say

"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)

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Customer Reviews

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Running the Books

This is a memoir of a former prison librarian. Not only it is very interesting as an insider's view of a prison and a place of books and written word in it, but it is also excellently written -- the author, who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community but has now become secular(an interesting story in itself), did not go to Harvard for nothing. The audio book version is perfect; the reader does a wonderful job and brings all the different characters to life.
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- Irena

Book Details

  • Release Date: 19-10-2010
  • Publisher: Random House Audio