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Literary fiction, classics, dystopian, history, memoir, prize winners, and of course the 1001 books. You really might catch me reading anything!

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Empire of Cotton: A Global History
Sven Beckert
Progress: 220/656 pages

Orange is the New Black (audiobook)

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison - Piper Kerman, Cassandra Campbell

My first ever audiobook! That I have finished, anyway. I have tried audiobooks many times over the years. The first one I tried was The Awakening on cassette tapes—yes, I have been trying this out for decades.

 

This one, though, stuck. Even if it did take me 2 months to get through. That's 2 renewals, and since you can't renew audiobooks at my library, I lost it twice and had to re-request, and ended up first in the queue and had to wait both times!

 

But I learned what I can listen to. I am actually a terrible listener, I don't know what I do instead, but I don't retain anything, normally. But this book is pretty simple. The reading level is not difficult. And I do love memoirs. And memoirs so often read like a conversation—or sound like a conversation. And, for me, that makes it easy to listen to.

 

What I enjoyed most about this book is Kerman's descriptions of relationships. In particular, the relationships between prisoners. She learns that people she would have expected to have nothing in common with—middle-aged Spanish women, young girls, the uneducated, the functionally illiterate—are really not that different from she herself. Everyone worries about their parents and children, their husbands, their siblings. And it is lack of resources—both money and knowledge—that have gotten so many of these women stuck here for so long. Kerman has a great law team and a short sentence. Those with public defenders have longer sentences—largely due to a huge caseload and thus the inability to devote the time to work out a strategy for each case.

 

What I found most surprising was her description of jail as being so un-jail-like. She can run on the track, read all the books that are sent her way, work, "cook", and the women have a shocking amount of freedom within the building. Her experience in Chicago—that is how I have always imagined jail. I guess that is prison—and it is no wonder people cannot function in the outside world when they get out.