July 17, 2014

10 Books That Changed My Life in Prison

Before many of my clients surrender to prison they ask me to contribute to their book list. Some clients have set goals that include reading at least 100 books. It can be done. I estimate that I read more than 100 books during the 388 days I served in prison at Taft Camp. I started many more than that, however. Montaigne suggested that we should start many books but finish few. I agree. If a book did not hold my interest, I put it away. I saw no upside in wasting time just to say I finished another book. Regardless of what books my clients read I suggest they read with a purpose. In other words, the books should help them prepare for the obstacles they will face upon release. I have nothing against Tom Clancy or James Patterson. I am just not sure reading their work is a good idea. You might as well be watching a movie.

The 10 books that changed my life in prison follow (note they are in no particular order):

1- Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

2- Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

3-Inside: Life Behind Bars in America, by Michael Santos

4- The Republic, Plato

5- The Trial of Socrates, by I.F. Stone

6- How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

7- Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill

8- The 48 Laws of Power (not allowed in prisons, but it always seems to show up), by Robert Greene

9- Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performance from Everybody Else, by Geoff Calvin

10- The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

I can and have listed up to 70 more for clients who have interest. Thriving through the system required that I become a better communicator. These books for a multitude of reasons helped me do just that.

So for those reading this blog trapped in the system, I ask you: What books are on your list?

Justin Paperny

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