The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature In A Men's Prison by Mikita BrottmanThe Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature In A Men's Prison by Mikita Brottman

The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature In A Men's Prison

byMikita Brottman

Paperback | June 6, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info

$15.00 online 
$19.99 list price save 24%
Earn 75 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


Ships within 1-2 weeks

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


A riveting account of the two years literary scholar Mikita Brottman spent reading literature with criminals in a maximum-security men’s prison outside Baltimore, and what she learned from them—Orange Is the New Black meets Reading Lolita in Tehran.

On sabbatical from teaching literature to undergraduates, and wanting to educate a different kind of student, Mikita Brottman starts a book club with a group of convicts from the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. She assigns them ten dark, challenging classics—including Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Poe’s story “The Black Cat,” and Nabokov’s Lolita—books that don’t flinch from evoking the isolation of the human struggle, the pain of conflict, and the cost of transgression. Although Brottman is already familiar with these works, the convicts open them up in completely new ways. Their discussions may “only” be about literature, but for the prisoners, everything is at stake.

Gradually, the inmates open up about their lives and families, their disastrous choices, their guilt and loss. Brottman also discovers that life in prison, while monotonous, is never without incident. The book club members struggle with their assigned reading through solitary confinement; on lockdown; in between factory shifts; in the hospital; and in the middle of the chaos of blasting televisions, incessant chatter, and the constant banging of metal doors.

Though The Maximum Security Book Club never loses sight of the moral issues raised in the selected reading, it refuses to back away from the unexpected insights offered by the company of these complex, difficult men. It is a compelling, thoughtful analysis of literature—and prison life—like nothing you’ve ever read before.

Mikita Brottman, PhD, is an Oxford-educated scholar, author, and psychoanalyst. She has written seven previous books, including The Great Grisby: Two Thousand Years of Literary, Royal, Philosophical, and Artistic Dog Lovers and Their Exceptional Animals, and is a professor of humanities at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Balti...
Title:The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature In A Men's PrisonFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.65 inPublished:June 6, 2017Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062384341

ISBN - 13:9780062384348


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pretty Decent Audiobook Reading The audiobook is read by an older lady with a slight accent. It compliments the story because the writer teaches many of the standard British texts to these inmates. By the time she figures out what these men need, the narrative becomes hilarious & insightful rather than her feeling like a fool. The entire story is engaging & filled with surprises. It can show a lot about life in a prison & what these men face on a daily basis. Recommended for anyone who works with or around low income people or those who are at risk of becoming incarcerated. Of course, folks who love reading because of the education it provides would love this as well.
Date published: 2018-08-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Maximum Security Bookclub While I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Mikita Brottman's experience with her bookclub, I do have to question of the choices she made regarding the books. Lolita, in particular seemed like a poor choice, that being said, it was interesting to hear the men's take on some of these classic books and to learn a little bit about their lives in prison.
Date published: 2018-03-06

Editorial Reviews

“The prisoners are real. The fiction classics they read and discuss are real. Honest, engaging, surprising, and often unsettling, THE MAXIMUM SECURITY BOOK CLUB beautifully captures the banal insanity of prison life in America while exploring the power of literature to transform, reform, and illuminate.”