Books through Bars

Stories from the Prison Books Movement

Title Details

Pages: 280

Illustrations: 75 b&w and color

Trim size: 7.500in x 9.500in

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 03/15/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6587-9

List Price: $37.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Sarah Mills Hodge Fund

Books through Bars

Stories from the Prison Books Movement

How prison books programs are quietly challenging the largest prison industry in the world

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Contributors

People organizing prison books programs have quietly gathered in basements, storage spaces, and the back rooms of secondhand bookstores for the last seventy years, reading letters written by incarcerated people and sending books in return. This diffuse and nonhierarchical movement operates on shoestring budgets with donated libraries in thirty states, and yet, there is little awareness of this long-standing social movement.

This book contains essays that explain the need for prison book programs and offer advice on how to establish or become involved with prison books programs, as well as shedding light on current challenges. While mass incarceration can make people feel powerless, this book details how ordinary people can organize and intervene in the largest imprisonment the world has ever known. The editors of this book hope it will inspire more people to realize that everyone has the power to treat each other differently and to foster a culture of care over cruelty.

Books through Bars powerfully conveys an important public statement about the importance of books and their value to maintaining one's full humanity through the life of the mind.

—Doran Larson, author of Witness in the Era of Mass Incarceration

Victoria Law

Michelle Dillon

Melissa Charenko

Beth Orlansky

Robert McDuff

Rebecca Ginsburg

James King

Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin

Sarah West

Lauren Braun-Strumfels

Annie Masaoka

Ellen Skirvin

Andy Chan

Jodi Lincoln

Patrick Kutcher

Daniel McGowan

Julie Schneyer

Julia Chin

Kwaneta Harris

Valerie Surrett

Rod Coronado

Nic Cassette

Zoe Lawrence

Megan Sweeney

Paul Tardie

About the Author/Editor

MOIRA MARQUIS manages the Freewrite Project based in PEN America's Prison and Justice Writing program. She has worked with Asheville Prison Books, the Prison Books Collective in Carrboro, North Carolina, and cofounded Saxapahaw Prison Books. Shehas taught history and literature in secondary and higher education. Her academic writing has appeared in Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, Science Fiction Studies, and Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism. She is the author of the PEN America report on carceral censorship, “Reading Between the Bars,” and her popular writing can be found in LitHub,TruthOut and PEN America’s Works of Justice series.


DAVE "MAC" MARQUIS is a lifelong activist. He has worked with the Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal, Earth First!, the Asheville Global Report, and innumerable other organizations, small and large. He has volunteered at several prison books programs and helped establish Asheville Prison Books as well as Saxapahaw Prison Books. Mac is the book review editor for H-Labor, the executive assistant for the Labor and Working-Class History Association, and a former board member of the Southern Labor Studies Association. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Carolina and has a graphic history of the Brotherhood of Timber Workers in production with the Historic New Orleans Collection.