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November 2017 , Page 59 

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Book Review: The Maximum Security Book Club - Reading Literature in a Men’s Prison

By Tony Bornstein

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The Maximum Security Book Club - Reading Literature in a Men’s Prison

By Mikita Brottman
Harper (2016)


Mikita Brottman, a professor of humanities in Baltimore, conducts a weekly reading group at the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. Most of the participants are serving long sentences for violent crimes. In The Maximum Security Book Club, she describes the group’s discussions and reactions as they study 10 of the books she has chosen for reading.

Explaining why she started the club, she writes: “I saw the book club mainly as a way for me to share my love for books that have come to mean the most to me.” She goes on to describe the group members:

The group brings together men from different housing units, gang affiliations, and racial and religious backgrounds who wouldn’t normally spend time together. It’s a place and time that permits them to drop their social masks without exposing themselves completely.

* * *

I ... came to realize that when the men are t

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