Donate Books

We appreciate your donation of books.

Most book donors give us books from their personal collections. If you prefer to purchase books to donate, please check out our Politics and Prose wish list, wish list, or Amazon wish list.

Please donate only GOOD-CONDITION PAPERBACK BOOKS in either Spanish or English. (Many prisons reject hardback books, and all reject books that are water-damaged, stained, or moldy.) Books should not contain excessive underlining or margin notes. Our list of Greatest Book Needs includes the books most often requested. Outdated resources, (e.g., computer manuals), are not needed. We no longer carry law books, although paperback legal dictionaries are welcome.

Please consider bundling series of books, remove any personal information (including your name and address), and make sure you check books for photos, letters, or other personal items you might not want to share with prisoners.

Most of our books are donated directly by individuals, but we also receive donations as a result of book drives. Please email us at btopdc(at) before hosting a book drive so we can let you know our storage capabilities and the genres we are currently set on.

Greatest Book Needs - Nonfiction

Career & Personal Development

  • College-level dictionaries — our #1 request
  • Thesauruses
  • Adult coloring books
  • How to draw (especially introductory, portraits, and manga/cartooning/superheros). No nudes please — nude illustrations aren't accepted in most prisons.
  • Starting a business, marketing, real estate, or personal finance (published within the last 10 years)
  • GED preparation
  • Trade or DIY books (especially modern home construction, home repair, welding, HVAC, woodworking, plumbing, truck driving, modern car mechanics, small motor repair)
  • Farming/agriculture (including beekeeping)
  • Game and puzzle books: role-playing games (e.g., Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder), chess, word search/Sudoku/crossword
  • Bodyweight exercise for men
  • Interpersonal communication
  • World atlases and recent (2015-current) almanacs
  • Astronomy (introductory level)

History, Culture, Language

  • Memoirs/biographies of historic leaders, modern celebrities/musicians, or people who have experienced transgender transition
  • Introductory (Level 1 or 2 or "phrase book") language instruction and dictionaries for Spanish, American Sign Language (ASL), Hebrew, Latin, Japanese, German, Russian, Arabic, Greek, and various other European, Asian, and African languages
  • History and culture, especially:
    • African American
    • Latin American
    • Ancient history/culture and mythology — especially Mayan, Aztec, Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Nordic and Celtic
    • Native American
  • National Geographic magazines (published 2000-present)
  • Joke books (aimed at adults, but not too risque)
  • Spanish-language books, including biography, history, self-help, and trade/DIY (e.g., plumbing, woodworking). Especially needed are books written at around an 8th grade level. Note: Although, in general, we seek only paperback books, hardcover books in Spanish are very welcome.

Greatest Book Needs - Fiction

  • Westerns
  • Comic books (especially Marvel and DC Comics), manga, and graphic novels (please NO comics/graphic novels with nude or explicit illustrations)
  • Fantasy (including paranormal romance, Forgotten Realm, vampires, werewolves, contemporary/urban, medieval/epic)
  • Mystery, suspense, thriller
  • Gay romance novels (most inmates are men)
  • Horror
  • Science fiction (including Star Wars and Star Trek)
  • Novels by David Baldacci, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Lee Child, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwall, Harlan Corben, Stuart Woods, Vince Flynn, J.A. Jance, C.J. Box, or Michael Connelly
  • Novels in Spanish, especially science fiction, fantasy, action/adventure, romance, westerns, mysteries, graphic novels, and other genres typically read for fun. (We usually have enough classic literature in Spanish.) Note: Although, in general, we seek only paperback books, hardcover books in Spanish are very welcome.
  • Christian fiction other than the Left Behind series

Books for Prison Book Clubs

As of July 7, 2024, we are seeking the following books to be sent to prison book clubs. This list will change frequently.

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey)
  • All About Love (bell hooks)
  • All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)
  • Are Prisons Obsolete? (Angela Davis)
  • Autobiography of Assata Shakur (Assata Shakur)
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo)
  • Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
  • The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger)
  • A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
  • Defending Jacob (William Landay)
  • Don't Call Us Dead (Danez Smith)
  • Everything I Never Told You (Celeste Ng)
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer)
  • The Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz)
  • Ghost Boys (Jewel Parker Rhodes)
  • A Good Country (Laleh Khadivi)
  • The Great Pretender (Susannah Cahalan)
  • The Light Between Oceans (M.L. Stedman)
  • On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
  • Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut)
  • Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson (George Jackson)
  • Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)
  • The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
  • Wonder (R.J. Palacio)

1. Dropping off books:

Books may be dropped off Wednesday evenings 6-8pm in our room in the basement of Foundry United Methodist Church. The church is at 1500 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20036. If you drive, please be aware Foundry does not have visitor parking, so you will need to find street parking.

Please do NOT leave books on the floor outside our room! Any books left there will be taken to a recycling bin by the church janitor. Always leave books with a volunteer. Donors are asked to bring no more than two boxes or bags of books per week. If you wish to donate a greater quantity, please contact btopdc(at) to make arrangements.

In compliance with Foundry's mask policy, people dropping off books must wear masks that cover both their mouths and noses.

A note to people who, in the days before the pandemic, brought books for donation and then stayed to volunteer: Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate drop-in volunteers at this time.

2. Mail: Please do not mail books to us — BtP maintains a PO Box and we lack the resources to receive or transport mailed books.

  • Please mail books directly to a prison librarian instead.
  • For a list of prison librarians accepting books, contact btopdc(at) with "Prison Library List" in the subject line.

We reserve the right to give away or trade any books that might not be needed by prisoners. If you have books to donate that you are certain we cannot use, go to Turning the Page's "Donate" page and scroll down to "Book Donations" to find out how to donate to Turning the Page's book sales. Another option is to donate your books to a local library that holds book sales.