As I was creating the characters who inhabited the world of Lawless, I spent a lot of time thinking about how they would pass the time in prison. There’s not much to do in San Judas other than smoke and fight, but each colony does have a library.

On the women’s side, access is restricted to the high-ranking members of the colony, but on the men’s side, anyone can use it. Soren and Finn in particular spent a lot of time in the library, either researching ways to get out of prison or simply passing the time.

Each character in the book has wildly different interests, so I thought I would showcase their unique personalities by giving you a glimpse at their prison reading lists.


Wild by Cheryl Strayed

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America’s Most Hopeful Landscapes by Bill McKibben

The River in Winter: New and Selected Essays by Stanley Crawford

The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir by Leslie Marmon Silko

The Colorado Trail by Colorado Trail Foundation

Classic Hikes of North America by Peter Potterfield

Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore


Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America by Jonathan Simon

A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America by Ernest Drucker

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich


Coyotes and Town Dogs: Earth First! and the Environmental Movement by Susan Zakin

Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching by Bill Haywood and Dave Foreman

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

We Are As Gods: Back to the Land in the 1970s on the Quest for a New America by Kate Daloz

Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash by Edward Humes

The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir’s Greatest Adventures by Lee Stetson


A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives and Our Lives Change Our Genes by Sharon Moalem

Living With Goats: Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Backyard Herd by Margaret Hathaway


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

The Shining by Stephen King

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

It by Stephen King


The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

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