Humor, redemption, heartbreak; three of many things Netflix’s original series Orange is the New Black has. If you’re anything like me you probably already binge watched the second season of the Netflix original series. Man, they really made out like a bandit with this one. And by binge watch, I mean like, legit sat down from 7 p.m. on its release date and mowed straight through (with minimal bathroom and food breaks) until 9 a.m. the next morning. No? Just me? Doubtful!
This show has got everybody talking; the series follows Piper Chapman, a woman in her 30s who, because of a decade-old crime committed while transporting money for her drug-dealing girlfriend, has to serve 15 months in prison. Add some amazingly interesting characters like Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren (a slightly deranged yet lovable gal who claims Piper as her first wifey behind bars), John Bennett (a handsome C.O. who finds himself in a sticky situation with one of the inmates), and Tiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett (the Jesus-loving loon with her own agenda to lead a clique in prison to stop the ‘lesbianing’ from happening around her).
If you’re missing the show (I missed it 10 minutes after I finished watching the new season), and if you’ve already re-watched the season five to seven times… then maybe it’s time to check out a few reads to hold you over before Season 3 hits our computer screens.
Sure Jenji Kohan, the Creator of the show went in some different directions with the storylines, adding a bit more violence, drama and intrigue—it’s understandable, hell even expected. But before there was a series, there was a book. Hello, “inspired by” doesn’t mean it came out of thin air. There’s a reason why Piper Kerman’s memoir, also titled Orange is the New Black, is a #1 New York Times bestseller! And why the Netflix series, inspired by her tell-all story is a hit. The challenges she faced being charged for a crime she committed so long ago and the experiences she lived behind bars is beyond interesting. Any true OITNB fan has to read this in order to see where it all started—if only for some perspective. Plus, it’s kind of fun trying to figure out what’s been adapted from the book and what’s been snuck in there by the talented Jenji Kohan.
Although Avi Steinberg didn’t commit any crimes, much like Piper Kerman (and Piper Chapman), he found himself out of his element in prison—as a librarian in one of Boston’s prisons. Steinberg spent two years behind the counter exploring prison culture and spinning an entertaining tale of one man’s attempt to find his place in a world he wasn’t qualified to be in, in the first place. It’s definitely worth reading, if not for the interesting story but to delve into the examination of people in prison, guards, the prison staff, and Steinberg himself.
A little on the darker side, this book is a heart-wrenching account of a woman’s struggle to escape the perverse thralls of sexual slavery and religious fanaticism surrounding polygamy. This courageous story of hope and transformation is definitely worth a read if you’re looking for a story about a whole different kind of imprisonment. Wives of polygamous cult leaders seldom have any say in their lives and almost never find justice. Now a Lifetime movie (isn’t every story one these days?) will not disappoint if you’re looking to send these horrific leaders to prison for life.
Whether you want to stay in the same vicinity as your favorite show by reading Piper Kerman’s account of her incarceration, get a little more real with a story about Warren Jeff’s perverse polygamous world, or find out more about the prison system from Avi Steinberg—there’s something for everyone to keep their appetite curbed and ready for another season of Orange is the New Black.