Are you looking for a good book that complements your television preferences? Several cast members have written books that you can enjoy while you’re away from an Internet connection.

The Memoir that Started It All

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison
by Piper Kerman

Piper Kerman is pictured beside the cover of her memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison. The cover of the memoir pictures two plain Orange canvas shoes.

Piper Kerman (who becomes Piper Chapman in the series) was sentenced to fifteen months in Prison after smuggling a briefcase full of cash for her then-girlfriend Cleary Wolters (Alex Vause in the series). Much like the series, Kerman is sentenced nearly a decade after the actual event, having to face. The reality of her past decisions in the face of her pending marriage to her then-boyfriend Larry Smith (Larry Bloom in the series), and she serves her time in Litchfield Penitentiary, CT (in the series, Litchfield is located in New York).

Kerman’s memoir explores the inside of a minimum security women’s facility, where she met a variety of women from various cultures. While Kerman had a relatively boring experience in prison, her sentence inspired her to learn more about the United States prison system and write this memoir to open peoples’ eyes to the cruel injustices that are carried out daily. Although the Netflix series has taken creative license with the characters portrayed in the memoir, kernels of each character are scattered throughout the memoir, making for an intriguing introduction into prison literature.



Out of Orange: A Memoir
by Cleary Wolters

The cover of Cleary Wolter's memoir, Out of Orange. An orange jumpsuit is pictured folded neatly with a pair of black-rimmed glasses sitting on top of it. The title of the novel appears to be printed on the jumpsuit in white text.

Eager to have her side of the story told, Cleary Wolters (the inspiration for Orange‘s Alex Vause) has just published her memoir that tells her and Piper’s story from a different perspective. Her memoir sheds light on her experiences with the United States prison system and her ruinous involvement in drug trade. Moreover, Wolters attempts to set the record straight about common misconceptions in her involvement in Piper‘s story as told by Netflix and in memoirist Piper Kerman’s life. Wolters also answers questions from fans of Orange Is the New Black.



Books by Orange Cast Members

Born with Teeth
by Kate Mulgrew

An image taken from the cover of Kate Mulgrew's memoir, Born with Teeth. The title of the novel is pictured to the left, and to the right, Mulgrew is pictured as a young woman in sepia tone.

One of many children, Kate Mulgrew (Galina “Red” Reznikov) grew up in an unconventional Irish Catholic household and witnessed  firsthand what it meant for a woman to give up her dreams and raise children instead of pursuing a career.

Studying under Stella Adler in New York City, Mulgrew was advised to use any pain, disappointment, and anger that she had experienced while acting. At age twenty-two, she was faced with a very difficult decision. She could either keep the child that had been conceived as a product of her rape, which had occurred in her apartment building, or give up her child and see where her newly blossoming acting career would take her. Deciding to give up her child for adoption, Mulgrew embarked upon a journey that brought her to where she is today–as one of Litchfield’s baddest bitches around.



The Stash Plan: Your 21-Day Guide to Shed Weight, Feel Great, and Take Charge of Your Health
by Laura Prepon and Elizabeth Troy

The cover of Laura Prepon's The Stash Plan, which pictures Prepon and her nutritionist, Elizabeth Troy, in the kitchen cooking.

After rising to fame at a young age on That ’70s Show, Laura Prepon (Alex Vause) quickly discovered what it meant to be a less-than-perfect woman in Hollywood. Struggling with bloating, low energy, weight and digestive issues, and self esteem, Prepon sought out the help of Integrative Nutritionist Elizabeth Troy, whose approach to nutrition and wellness combines ancient dietary wisdom with Eastern holistic medicine and dietary science allowed her to feel and look better.

Eating healthy shouldn’t be a hassle. This cookbook is a comprehensive approach to cooking and preparing healthy meals that will keep you full, help you burn fat, and restore your source of natural energy.

Laura Prepon pictured holding a pan of uncooked meat on the left half of the image. On the right half of the image is an aerial shot of six containers, each holding different types of prepared food.



In the Country We Love: My Family Divided
by Diane Guerrero and Michelle Burford

Diane Guerrero is pictured holding her book, In the Country We Love: My Family Divided. The cover of the book pictures Guerrero wearing all black and holding up a cone of pink cotton candy.

When she was fourteen, Diane Guerrero (Maritza Ramos) came home from school one day to an empty house to discover that her parents, undocumented immigrants, had been deported back to Colombia while she was at school. Forced to depend upon the kindness of family friends, she struggled to survive on her own and build a career for herself.

Guerrero explores the United States’ immigration policies through the lens of her emotionally trying childhood and reveals the unspoken plight of undocumented families.



Audiobook Narrator: The Art of Recording Audio Books
by Barbara Rosenblat and Dan O’Day

Cover of Barbara Rosenblat's Audiobook Narrator: The Art of Recording Audio Books. A portrait of Rosenblat is featured.

Before portraying Miss Rosa Cisernos on Orange Is the New Black, Barbara Rosenblat made a career for herself as a very successful audiobook recording artist. Winning several award for her work, and being referred to as the Meryl Streep of audiobooks, Rosenblat teamed up with Dan O’Day in 2015 to write a guide for recording successful audiobooks. Having recorded over 400 audiobooks, Rosenblat is eager to share her experience in the business. She answers nearly forty questions about the art of recording and voice acting, including how to start your career in audiobook recording and the skills expected of voice recording actors.



Books by Series Creators

Orange Is the New Black presents the Cookbook: Bites, Booze, Secrets, and Stories from inside the Big House
by Jenji Kohan, Tara Herrmann, Hartley Voss, and Alex Regnery

The Orange Is the New Black cookbook is a beautiful specimen of what a wonderful show can do for the world outside of it. This full-color, 224-page cookbook is decked out with a collection of diverse prison eats from every culture. With recipes by Leda Scheintaub and photography by Johnny Miller, you’ll feel like you’re actually cooking something concocted by the inmates themselves (and that’s a good thing!).

Divided into six sections–Breakfast in the Big House, Lunch at Litchfield, Dinner in the Dining Hall, Snacks and Sides for Survival, Drinks in the Clink, and Dessert for Good Behavior–all of your favorite inmates contribute to this culinary masterpiece. My personal favorites are Mackenzie and Amanda’s Vegan Sushi (by Poussey Washington and Taystee Jefferson), Larry‘s Cherry Chocolate Kiss Smoothie, and Pennsatucky‘s Family Beer Can Bird (the recipe for which can be found here).

This cookbook is additionally peppered with fun extras, including Taystee’s reading list and Gloria‘s Santeria Rituals.


Other Must-Read Prison Literature

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander

Cover of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Two hands, apparently black and male, grasping the bars of a prison cell are pictured against a black background.

Civil Rights Lawyer and Legal Scholar Michelle Alexander exposes how the 1980s’ War on Drugs allowed law enforcement officials, including local police departments and the CIA, to enter all-black neighborhoods, plant cocaine on young black males, and then subsequently arrest them for possession. This national act institutionalized racism to the extent that courts were now imprisoning more people of color than white people. Moreover, people of color were also sentenced to longer periods of jail time than their white counterparts.

Alexander focuses her attention on how the United States Criminal Justice System has disproportionately incarcerated the black male population, although she does acknowledge the fact that people of all races and ethnicities, as well as women, face the same issues as the population with whom she is interested. This is an excellent text to begin with if you are interested in the Prison Industrial Complex and the way in which the United States has managed to become the country that incarcerates the most individuals per capita–that is, the U.S. is responsible for twenty-five percent of the world’s prison population, although it only makes up five percent of the world’s total population.

One thought on “Bookshelf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s