Season 2 of Orange is the New Black, a show nominated for twelve Emmys, premiered on Netflix in early June, so I think it’s pretty safe to say by now we’ve all binge-watched the whole thing and are going through OITNB withdrawal. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Here are six indie books about life in prison to fill the void.
Where Excuses Go to Die
Winner of Foreword’s 2013 IndieFab Silver Award in Autobiography & Memoir. For a guy who justified his moral superiority by using a fake gun to rob corporate (never family-owned) bookstores, prison was quite a wake-up call. This is an irreverent, poignant, and humorous coming-of-age story in a place where excuses are everywhere and worth nothing.
My Five Stones: A Memoir by Susan Darin Pohl
Pohl’s work as a chaplain for women in a federal prison is gripping. She has a gift for intertwining her storytelling with small bits of profound observation. This is a tender and optimistic book that offers hope and encouragement to all who read and reflect on it.—John Senger
My Sisters Made of Light by Jacqueline St. Joan
The riveting story of Ujala, a Pakistani schoolteacher imprisoned in Adiala Prison, a women’s penitentiary that holds the lives of hundreds of Pakistani women in limbo. Abused and lost, these women all have heartbreaking stories of the violence that lead them to imprisonment.—Shoilee Khan
Maximum Insecurity: A Doctor in the Supermax by William Wright, M.D.
In his chilling and hilarious memoir now-seasoned supermax prison physician William Wright shares his initiation into hard truths learned on the job.—Carrie Wallace
Tales of a Jailhouse Librarian: Challenging the Juvenile Justice System One Book at a Time by Marybeth Zeman
As a librarian at a jail for juvenile offenders, Zeman has collected anecdotes from her years of experience working with boys old enough to commit serious crimes but still young enough to discover that reading books can be a transformative experience.—Jeff Fleischer
Parole and Prison Stories by P. Jablon
A seasoned parole officer talks crime, poverty, and politics—and calls it like he sees it. Veteran parole officer P. Jablon gives his firsthand account of the dangers, frustrations, challenges, and victories he faced in his twenty years of public service amid inner-city and rural crime and poverty.—Jason Henninger