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GIVEAWAY & REVIEW: Running the Books by Avi Steinberg


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 anxious pimp who solicits Steinberg’s help in writing a memoir. A passionate gangster who dreams of hosting a cooking show titled Thug Sizzle. A disgruntled officer who instigates a major feud over a Post-it note. A doomed 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. But when the struggles of the prison library — between life and death, love and loyalty — become personal, Steinberg is forced to take sides.

Running the Books is a trenchant 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.

About the Author

AVI STEINBERG was born in Jerusalem and raised in Cleveland and Boston. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the New York Review of Books, Salon, and other publications.


  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385529090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385529099


When I first picked this up, I thought, how disappointing his parents must be that he didn't follow the path that was originally planned.  Steinberg's parents should be extremely proud of his accomplishments and that his life probably has positively touched more lives because he chose a different path.  This memoir covers some gritty moments, trying times and all told with a great deal of humor.  


Contest is open to anyone with a US mailing address (no PO Boxes)

Contest ends on 11.29.10 Winner will be chosen by on 11.30.10
Winner will have 48 hours to respond to email or a new winner will be chosen.
This giveaway is sponsored by Random House / DoubleDay and two books will be available.
Only one winner per household address!

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  1. This certainly looks intriguing! Did you catch the part in his bio at Avi's website that he is both a cat and dog person!?

  2. This looks like a very interesting book.
    I read some of his articles. He was a security guard at the 2008 Republican convention.

  3. Tweeted

  4. Daily entry 11/16. Thanks!

  5. I'm a new email subscriber.
    My late stepfather was a corrections officer and my mom worked at another prison for a while as an RN. They had a lot of stories to tell. What always amazed me were the many Christmas cards they received every year from the inmates.
    jryder416 at yahoo dot com

  6. I would love to read this book!! This is an area in which I know so little, but am quite interested :)

    teagirl1 at telus dot net

  7. Tweet!

  8. Thanks for the giveaway.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  9. Rob K -- molokaisurfer
    Be Sure to Visit Rob's blog BOOKS ARE LIKE CANDY CORN

    Sheryl -- sheryljeffries
    An email has been sent to the lucky people named above (first part of their email address in case my note ends up in spam). The winner(s) has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
    Thanks to all who entered.


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