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Reading behind Bars PDF-“A fascinating look into a world many of us never see, and a powerful story about one woman’s journey to find her own strength, with a clear message of the importance of books and information for all.” Booklist (American Library Association), starred review

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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The Authors

Reading behind Bars PDF

Called “a stylish and sparkly writer” by the New York Times, Jill Grunenwald ( is the author of “Running With a Police Escort: Tales From the Back of the Pack” and “Images of Modern America: Hudson.” She has her BFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University and her MLIS from the University of Kentucky. Currently she is employed as a staff librarian at OverDrive, where she is also the creator and co-host of the Professional Book Nerds podcast. She lives and works in Cleveland

Dimensions and Characteristics of Reading behind Bars PDF

  • Identification Number ‏ : ‎ B07F21V112
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Skyhorse (July 2, 2019)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ July 2, 2019
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1383 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 242 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Book Name : Reading behind Bars PDF

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Top reviews

M. Palasik “I read this book in 3 days, which is quite the feat for me! It was hard to put down.
Jill writes an easy to read narrative of her adventures as a newly minted librarian working in a prison. Her style is conversational, as if you are sitting over coffee and updating a friend on your life (with humorous Harry Potter references and asides). This style will make you laugh out loud at times and gasp at others.
At the beginning of each chapter, the reader is given an example of a prison rule in place for the safety of the inmates. There are a lot of rules; and subsequently a lot of stories to tell about inmates pushing the limits of said rules. However, this book isn’t just about being a prison librarian, it is about her life at the time. She graduated at the time soon after the recession and jobs were scarce, so she took what she could get, as we all do.
This was an enjoyable, quick read and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in what it’s like to be a librarian and/or work in a prison.”
Cathy Klein “Reading Behind Bars was a great memoir of Jill’s time as a librarian in a prison in Northern Ohio.

She talks about not only her time there, but her thoughts about the inmates and how they perceived her and vice versa as well as how she knew she had to be stern in following the prison rules in order to gain the inmates respect.

The prison was a minimum security prison so I often forgot that the people she was talking about were prisoners until she had to enforce a rule or file an incident report or visit segregation.

I listen to Jill on her biweekly podcast, Professional Booknerds, so I could actually hear Jill reading it to me in my mind making it even more enjoyable, I think. I feel as if I know her inflections and her humor and as an added bonus, I got to meet her at a book signing last year when it first came out!”

Jemes “Having had a close family member, who was incarcerated, the title was of great interest to me. I found the author to be spot on with the details of prison life and sad to say, the lack of quality updated reading material available to incarcerated men and women. The library and librarians offer them a place of respite and some normalcy. She not only told the stories of the inmates, but of the prison staff as well. Sometimes, I believe as a society we focus on the inmates, but forget about the staff and how much they see and how much of an impact they can make in the lives of the inmates. Very compelling and insightful read. Gives another view of life behind the walls. I highly recommend this book.”
Margaret “This book is different from the books I usually read. It reads like a journal and traces the development of Miss Grunenwald as a prison librarian. Her language is simple and clear, at times poetic especially when describing the changes in seasons. Her characters are thinly drawn and she gives just enough information to make the reader see them. Their respect for her is obvious. Her quiet sense of humour is evident. Not laugh out loud, but it is there. She changes gear in each chapter by using an excerpt of prison regulation and leads the reader to follow her just to find out just how this applies to this chapter. Quite a good book. It is not overly long and the subject matter is not boring.”
Reference: Wikipedia

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