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Shortlisted for the 2020 Social Justice & Advocacy Book Award by In the Margins Book Awards.
In December 2008, twentysomething Jill Grunenwald graduated with her master’s degree in library science, ready to start living her dream of becoming a librarian. But the economy had a different idea. As the Great Recession reared its ugly head, jobs were scarce. After some searching, however, Jill was lucky enough to snag one of the few librarian gigs left in her home state of Ohio. The catch? The job was behind bars as the prison librarian at a men’s minimum-security prison. Talk about baptism by fire.
As an untested twentysomething woman, to say that the job was out of Jill’s comfort zone was an understatement. She was forced to adapt on the spot, speedily learning to take the metal detectors, hulking security guards, and colorful inmates in stride. Over the course of a little less than two years, Jill came to see past the bleak surroundings and the orange jumpsuits and recognize the humanity of the men stuck behind bars. They were just like every other library patron—persons who simply wanted to read, to be educated and entertained through the written word. By helping these inmates, Jill simultaneously began to recognize the humanity in everyone and to discover inner strength that she never knew she had.
At turns poignant and hilarious, Reading behind Bars is a perfect read for fans of Orange is the New Black and Shakespeare Saved My Life.
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About the Author
Jill Grunenwald is the healthy living blogger behind The Year of the Phoenix and host of the Running with a Police Escort podcast, which she launched in June 2015 thanks to the financial support of her Kickstarter backers. A 3x half-marathoner, Jill proudly represents the back of the pack at every race and was an Ambassador for the Cleveland Marathon series in 2015, 2016, and 2017. She has her BFA from Bowling Green State University and her MLIS from the University of Kentucky. Currently, she is employed as a staff librarian at OverDrive, the leading ebook and audiobook app for libraries and schools, where she is also the creator and co-host of the Professional Book Nerds podcast. She lives and works in Cleveland.
Table of Contents
Part I The Voice of the Door-keeper 1
Chapter 1 Out of the Frying Pan 3
Chapter 2 And into the Fire 16
Chapter 3 In the Doghouse 39
Chapter 4 The Hole 60
Chapter 5 Weekend Reading 78
Chapter 6 Pomp and Circumstance 96
Chapter 7 Three Strikes, You're Out 115
Part II We're All Mad Here 135
Chapter 8 New Sheriff in Town 137
Chapter 9 Finder's Keepers 146
Chapter 10 Bat out of Hell 158
Chapter 11 Heartbreaker 176
Chapter 12 Because I Could Not Stop for Death 190
Chapter 13 Something Wicked This Way Comes 202
Chapter 14 Gangsta's Paradise 210
Chapter 15 Deck the Halls with Boughs of Folly 219
Part III The Same Little Corner of Sky 233
Chapter 16 Ghost in the Machine 235
Chapter 17 I, Too, Sing America 245
Chapter 18 Erin Go Bragh 255
Chapter 19 Last Dance with Mary Jane 265
Chapter 20 Them's the Breaks, Kid 275
Chapter 21 The Spider and the Fly 285
Chapter 22 Check Mate 294
Chapter 23 Taking the Matter into Your Own Hands 305
Chapter 24 Ink Art Serrated 319