My Daily Journal in Federal Prison

Day 87

In prison, reading is a dirty word.  People look at you funny.  They wonder what’s wrong with you.  Forget all those romantic notions of inmates all curled up with a classic book in their cells. Being a reader is one step away from being a chomo.  I figured this out quickly in the Hole when there was literally nothing to do BUT cozy up with a book.  My celly at the time exclaimed, “man youse reads a lot” and “did youse reads this much on the Streets?”

When I got out on the compound, the inmates weren’t any more forgiving of avid readers.  Thankfully, because I’ve been well accepted in the Unit, I’ve been spared most of the ridicule and nobody gives me much grief.  I’ve since read close to 40 books in less than 90 days.

To give you an idea of what little regard there is for reading here, magazines are called “books” and the most widely “read” books are big booty mags with titles like “Straight Stuntin.”  While nudie mags, or any type of pornography, are not allowed here, the big butt mags are permitted because of the g-string…even if it’s just a little, tiny g.  A Baby Gap g.

I have also discovered a whole new genre of books here (actual books with words and stuff) called “hood novels.”  A rapper named C-Murder wrote the flagship hood novel by which all other ghetto books are measured.  I’ve yet to read one of these although I may have to get indoctrinated at some point because the authors must make a shit ton of money considering that these rags are EVERYWHERE.  It’s the only type of “book” other than big butt mags that the inmates appear to read.  Although, I did find it “cute” this morning when I spied a nice, young brother fromCincinnatireading “Dreams of my Father” by Barack Obama.

When non-readers discover your penchant for reading, they will automatically start offering you anything with a cover that has sentences in between.  It usually goes a little something like this:  “Oh, you like books?  HERE’S a book”…and then they hand you a tome from the Twilight series, or some other such nonsense (not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, but I’ve always been of the opinion that if you’re going to take the time to read something, you might as well read something good…by adults and for adults.  I’ve never understood the obsession, for example, with the Harry Potter series by anyone beyond a high school education.  Sorry if I’ve just ostracized several billion people.)

And just think how this same logic would apply in other scenarios….”Oh, you like music?  HERE’S some music.” (C&C Music Factory)  “You like food?  HERE’S some food?” (Swanson T.V. Dinner)  “You like movies?  HERE’S a movie.” (Miss Congeniality)


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