What Are the Most Popular Books in a Prison Library?

Avi Steinberg, a former prison librarian, has written a memoir about his experience. In it, he recounted the books that were the most popular among prisoners, and why:

The prisoners' book choices are suggestive: Anne Frank was effectively coping with incarceration in her Amsterdam attic, and Plath is an obvious choice for those less than contented with their lot. Participants in Steinberg's women's writing group insisted on checking out an author's photo before they would read the book, with interesting reactions. Flannery O'Connor's portrait got a positive verdict – "She looks kind of busted up, y'know? She ain't too pretty. I trust her" – but the judgment on Gabriel García Márquez was blunt: "That man is a liar".


Crime fiction was also very popular.

Link via Marginal Revolution | Author's Website | Photo (unrelated) via Flickr user jvoss used under Creative Commons license

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In "The Shawshank Redemption" where the prisoners open a box of books for the library and come across The Count of Monte Cristo:
"What's it about?
>"Oh, a guy who escapes from prison."
"I'll file it under educational then".
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As a corrections officer, the inmates at my place read a ton of religious "inspirational" literature because they can relate to that "poor, oppressed" thing. And because getting religion means you're forgiven aka "elimination of regret." Of course they drop the religion as soon as they're back in the Free World.

Also, erotica (written smut) is hugely popular.
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