2011 (Prison) Reading List

Last year I compiled the list of books I sent to my incarcerated younger brother. 

I liked Pelzer's healing attitude and his inspiring ability to move forward.

Having not spent a lot of time with him as an adult (he went in at 21 while I was living on the West Coast), it's great watching his literary tastes develop. 

All Ned Vizzini's books should be required reading for young men who've ever identified with Pearl Jam songs.

I send him several a month, or as many as I can afford. He's become quite the voracious reader. 

I tutored a high school freshman for a couple of months and delved into YA fiction for the first time in my own life. So many beautiful books, my whole world opened up, too.

When I started sporadically sending my brother books a few years ago, I had yet to become an avid reader/savvy county library employee.

I sent only a handful of do-gooder books & mags I was familiar with: To Kill A Mockingbird, Utne Reader and Yes! Magazine

This pick was inspired by a story I did for WMNF on USF's children's mental health research conference

Sadly my bro told me early on that he preferred Cosmo & Country Weekly, and was bored by anything journalism related. 

Sorry Mr. French, I tried.

Take another little piece of my heart now darling. 

The only book I've been able to find on the topic of reentry.With millions of imprisoned Americans, you'd think the free market would be teeming with this stuff. 

It reminded me of us as kids, when we'd play school. I'd lock him in my room until he finished the homework I assigned. (Yes, I feel very guilty about being one of the reasons he's locked away now.) 

And its sequel The Sea of Monsters

I'm happy to report that my pedagogic skills have dramatically improved since I was 8.  

And its sequel. He ate them up! Finally I succeeded in my effort to make him like journalism, or at least know its struggles.

Now I want to be sure he's engaged and entertained by what I send. He needs an escape as well as an education. 

And as always, many thanks to Inkwood Books for accommodating my need to do something in a situation where I otherwise have no power. 

Few other stores are willing to ship books out for me, as required by the FL department of corrections.

He La was my pick of the year, yet I can't believe he liked it! My bro said he paced himself to stop from reading too quickly because he enjoyed it so much.

I'd like to give him & Rebecca Skloot a big ole hug now. After nine long years away, 2012 will be the last (prison) reading list I'll have to compose. Let's hope & pray for no encore.


  1. I loved last years list and was happy to see you did one this year. Well even happier to hear that there will be no 2013 list :-)

    I am unable to send my brother books where he is, your brother is really lucky that he is able to receive them as well as having you for a sister.