Saturday, November 12, 2011

The three books you get in prison?

As some of you know, I have for the past 2 years been involved in the local chapter of Books To Prisoners. We get letters from just a few of the ungodly (and yes, I mean this. It's an absolute abomination) number of people that are stuffed into America's prison industrial complex. But this post isn't about them it's about you; let me explain. Many states and some particular prisons restrict the number of books a person can recieve to 3. To help keep our requests to a minimum we ask that prisoners wait 9 months between letters and then it takes another 3-6 months for us to process letters (on average). My question, one that I posed to my comrades at Books to Prisoners was this: If you had 6 months and could have only 3 books (remember, things like dictionaries count as 1) what would you pick and why?
Let's assume further that you are in solitary confinement. I'm sure you are a nice person and you weren't causing trouble but your prison wanted to cut cost/maximize profits and that means every cell is filled. So besides your one hour a day ouside of your cell you have 3 books...

I'll post some of the one's we came up with in a week or two.


  1. My 3:

    1. Ulysses, by James Joyce. Finally all that time to read & dissect the damn thing.

    2. A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. Ditto the above.

    3. Burning Wheel Gold, by Luke Crane. A book that's actually the rules for a fantasy game of collaborative-competitive storytelling about fighting for what you believe. Spews forth hours & hours & hours of creativity and fun.

  2. Alright. Three books...

    1) Dante's Comedy. There's enough re-read potential in there that I could go back through it a time or two after I ran out of other books.
    2) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. No, I'm not trying to be clever here. Dostoevsky is the master novelist, and if I've got time on my hands, he's always worth a reread.
    3) Augustine's City of God. I know I picked three long books, but this one is as well a compendium of all of the theological questions I find most compelling.

  3. 1- State topographical atlas
    2- region-specific hiking handbook
    3- hollowed out Bible with a rock hammer inside
    Boosh! I win at prison.

    Just kidding, I would want some stuff that's long, but not super dense. I like Nietzsche a lot, but trying to read him for 15 hours a day would probably make me insane.

    I'd like a giant collection of short stories by Robert E. Howard and then maybe one of the really long Neil Gaimon novels I haven't read yet. I've been meaning to read some Jack Vance and I know all of his "Dying Earth" stories are available in one book.

    The best would be if I could get the Sandman series or Transmetropolitan, but I don't think you can get those as single books, they're usually only available as a set of a dozen trade paperbacks.

    If I weren't planning on getting put in solitary too often, then I would trade one or two of those books out for the Pathfinder Core Rulebook and supplements and bank on finding another couple huge nerds once I got there.

  4. one 19th ce literature
    one post modern literature
    one poetry