A Scholar’s Bookshelf

A Scholar’s Bookshelf

Today, I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve read recently and some that I’ve purchased but have not managed to read yet. I thought this could be a fun way to share several good books and humanize the prisoner educator (prisoner who educates). After all, the prisoner is often thought of as a liar or a deceiver. While I don’t contest this for the general population, I do contest it for those of us who work hard to educate our fellow prisoners and ourselves. Hopefully, my reading list will open eyes, hearts, and minds to the cause of prisoners who educate prisoners.

Without further ado, here is what’s currently on my bookshelf and my thoughts on them:

America Is the Prison: Arts and Politics in Prison in the 1970s by Lee Bernstein

I’m in the process of reading this spectacular title. I suppose that the idea of prisoners being able to affect change outside prison walls interests me. While some of it is political, it is a superb read from the glory days of prisoners doing something to better themselves and the world around them. It is a very inspiring read and has even motivated me to do some research on American prisons of the past. This book very well might have inspired me to write a book about the history of prison education.

The New American Roget’s College Thesaurus in Dictionary Form

I suppose that every student and writer needs a decent thesaurus.

The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus

When I need to raise the reading level of an article or essay, I find this thesaurus important.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I have to say, even though I am a scholar and a writer, I’m horrible at spelling. My dictionary receives a lot of usage. While I have a larger version of this dictionary, the smaller one fits nicely in my gray mesh bag and makes the journey to the Education Department several times a week with me.

Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus From the Cross by Richard John Neuhaus

I haven’t read this one yet, but my good friend Randall Radic – the author of several great titles – sent it to me. So, I’m determined to read it as soon as I clear off my plate.

Inside: Life Behind Bars in America by Michael G. Santos

This is another that I haven’t got to yet. I hear it’s a great book from several friends in the Education Department. I will get to this one as soon as I have time.

The New Writing With A Purpose (14th Edition) by Joseph F. Trimmer

This is one of my college English textbooks. I enjoyed and even used this textbook in Week Two of my “Writing and Publishing” class. I’m considering utilizing it to craft a new course. If you need a text that shows how to write academic and practical essays, this is the book for you.

The Riverside Reader (8th Edition) edited by Joseph Trimmer and Maxine Hairston

This text is the companion reader to my college English course. So far, it is a decent read. I like the reflection questions in it because they force me to examine the literature intensively. I also like the blend of stories from vastly different backgrounds. This ensures that my education and reading are diverse in content and structure.

Providing College to Prison Inmates by Jeanne Bayer Contardo

I’ve only glanced through this title. After all, I received it three days ago. It looks like a tremendous text. Mrs. Contardo did an excellent job on the research, as she always does! She did a study not too long ago with W. Erisman. It was titled “Learning to Reduce Recidivism: A 50-State Analysis of Postsecondary Correctional Education Policy.” This is probably the best study on prison education I’ve ever encountered. I highly recommend that you read whatever Mrs. Contardo has to say. To say “I’m impressed” would not even cover her terrific work, my opinion of it, or my opinion of her!

Schooling in a “Total Institution”: Critical Perspectives on Prison Education edited by Howard J. Davidson

I have not yet read this title, but I look forward to doing so soon. I’ll let you know what I think when I do.

New International Version Bible

I like the NIV a lot because it offers a trusted translation of the Bible. It assists me when I need to see something worded in a more modern way than the KJV can provide.

King James Version Bible

The KJV is my starting point when reading or studying the Bible. I trust it the most and have come to place my salvation on its very words, His words.

Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the United States and Canada by Jon Marc Taylor, Ph.D.

The PGH is a terrific title. This is what started me on my quest to be a student and a teacher. Dr. Taylor has inspired me so much through his tremendous work. I can’t thank him enough. While this title isn’t of much use to those outside of prison, it is to those in prison. I highly recommend that anyone with a loved one in prison order this book. However, once my book, “Education Behind Bars” comes out, I think Dr. Taylor’s PGH will become outdated. This is not to say that the book is old or bad, but that mine is much more up-to-date and expansive. It’s of use to prisoners and those outside of prison, too.

The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation Into the Prison of Modern Schooling by John Taylor Gatto

I have not yet read this title since I received it just the other day, but I look forward to it. These days, I’m entertaining the idea of writing a history of correctional education. I hope this title will show me several ways to present my research and entertain and inform me.

The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Market, Sell, and Innovate by Clara Shih

This is another excellent book. It has a strong marketing and promotions slant. It has also introduced me to ROI (Return on Investment) concepts and how to gauge my online efforts. I highly recommend this book to anyone desiring to expand their online presence.

College in Prison: Information and Resources for Incarcerated Students by Bruce Michaels

This title is a lot like Dr. Taylor’s PGH. However, it is not as exhaustive (101 pages, I believe) and not as good. Plus, it was self-published and has a very narrow appeal: prisoners attempting to convince their Supervisor of Education to allow prison education programs. If I were you, I’d celebrate that Mr. Michaels put the time in to craft such a document, but I would purchase Dr. Taylor’s PGH. Sorry, my personal opinion.

Higher Education In Prison: A Contradiction In Terms? by Miriam Williford

I received this title just today in the mail. It was published in 1994 but looks to be well-researched. I can’t wait to read and utilize it for my research and professional development.

And that’s it. This concludes the list of books on my shelf, in my locker, and in my library bag (the grey mesh bag I carry to the library when I go). I hope this list of titles piques your interest and motivates you to purchase one or two books. After all, several terrific prison education titles are in the mix, several of which contain impeccable research.

I’ll let you know as I come across other decent prison education titles.