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David Coogan's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books David Coogan recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of David Coogan's favorite book recommendations of all time.

In 1997 Mark Salzman, bestselling author Iron and Silk and Lying Awake, paid a reluctant visit to a writing class at L.A.’s Central Juvenile Hall, a lockup for violent teenage offenders, many of them charged with murder. What he found so moved and astonished him that he began to teach there regularly. In voices of indelible emotional presence, the boys write about what led them to crime and about the lives that stretch ahead of them behind bars. We see them coming to terms with their crime-ridden pasts and searching for a reason to believe in their future selves. Insightful,... more
Recommended by David Coogan, and 1 others.

David CooganMark Salzman is also a novelist. He stumbles into offering a writing workshop at a juvenile detention center in California for kids who were in gangs, many of them with very serious charges. He comes in in much the same way Wally Lamb does. Wally Lamb was not looking to do a writing workshop. Ge was invited to come in and he reluctantly said, ‘Ok, I’ll do it this one time’ and then he kind of... (Source)

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What I hope is that people reading this book will bear in mind that we are human beings first, inmates second.
--Bonnie Foreshaw
In a stunning new work of insight and hope, New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb once again reveals his unmatched talent for finding the humanity in the lost and lonely and celebrates the transforming power of the written word.

For the past several years, Lamb has taught writing to a group of women prisoners at York Correctional Institution. At first mistrustful of Lamb, one another, and the writing process,...
Recommended by David Coogan, and 1 others.

David CooganWally Lamb’s book is one of several that raises up the voices of women prisoners who have suffered through unspeakable traumas before they committed their crimes. (Source)

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New York Times "Bestseller In 1991, Shaka Senghor was sent to prison for second-degree murder. Today, he is a lecturer at universities, a leading voice on criminal justice reform, andaninspiration to thousands.
In life, it's not how you start that matters. It's how you finish.
Shaka Senghor was raised in a middle class neighborhood on Detroit s east side during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. An honor roll student and a natural leader, he dreamed of becoming a doctor but at age 11, his parents' marriage began to unravel, and the beatings from his mother worsened, sending...
Recommended by Ben Horowitz, David Coogan, and 2 others.

Ben HorowitzThe memoir of a man who went to prison for 19 years, then became an author and MIT fellow. (Source)

David CooganShaka Senghor grew up in the 80s and 90s. He was a young man when the crack epidemic took the country by storm. He grew up in Detroit and became a dealer pretty young. He was shot at and he shot at people and eventually killed somebody. (Source)

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A Place to Stand

A vivid portrait of life inside a maximum-security prison and an affirmation of one man's spirit in overcoming the most brutal adversity, this award-winning memoir "stands as proof there is always hope in even the most desperate lives" ("Fort Worth Morning Star-Telegram"). less
Recommended by David Coogan, and 1 others.

David CooganJimmy Santiago Baca, in his memoir, writes about how, when he was 20 or 21, he realized he was an illiterate Chicano in this very violent, maximum security prison. He knew he wanted to get out and lead a better life. (Source)

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X

With its first great victory in the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the civil rights movement gained the powerful momentum it needed to sweep forward into its crucial decade, the 1960s. As voices of protest and change rose above the din of history and false promises, one voice sounded more urgently, more passionately, than the rest. Malcolm X—once called the most dangerous man in America—challenged the world to listen and learn the truth as he experienced it. And his enduring message is as relevant today as when he first delivered it.

In the...

Casey NeistatAside from The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Casey's favorite book is The Second World War by John Keegan. (Source)

Ryan HolidayI forget who said it but I heard someone say that Catcher in the Rye was to young white boys what the Autobiography of Malcolm X was to young black boys. Personally, I prefer that latter over the former. I would much rather read about and emulate a man who is born into adversity and pain, struggles with criminality, does prison time, teaches himself to read through the dictionary, finds religion... (Source)

Keith EllisonMalcolm X is somebody that everybody in America’s prisons today could look at and say, ‘You know what, I can emerge, I can evolve' (Source)

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