If you ever doubted the power of a book to help a person escape their own reality, you won’t after reading The Maximum Security Book Club. The author is a college literature professor who started a classics book club at the Jessup Correctional Institution outside of Baltimore three years ago. Through her ability with words, Brottman makes you feel a part of the group from start to finish. Each chapter is titled for the classic being read such as Heart of Darkness by Conrad and Shakespeare’s MacBeth. The group is made up of 9 prisoners at a time, many of whom have been with her from the beginning.
I learned so much from this book. I don’t even feel I have the words to properly explain how much it impacted me. I became invested in these men and their journeys. Reading their take on the stories that many of us have at least heard of, if not read for ourselves, was priceless. The author did seem to have a hard time when the men didn’t immediately fall in love with the books she chose. I felt like I understood why they related better to classics like Ham on Rye by Bukowsi rather than to Lolita by Nabokov based on a recent discovery of my own. Who knew that when most men read a book they see themselves as the hero? Maybe this isn’t news to a lot of you, but it sure was to me! I believe this is exactly why the men in the book club despised Humbert Humbert in Lolita. They just could not relate to him. They didn’t see him as the hero type.
Brottman did a fabulous job of showing her readers how reading can truly bring people from all walks of life together.
~ Leslie M.