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 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 Outdated resources, (e.g., computer manuals), are not needed.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.

 

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 AFTER 2009)
  • GED preparation
  • Trade or DIY books (especially modern home construction, home repair, welding, HVAC, woodworking, plumbing, truck driving, modern car mechanics, small motor repair)
  • ESL/ESOL
  • 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
  • Calendars and daily planners for the year 2022 (must be free of spiral binding and metal clasps)
  • 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 the following languages: Spanish, American Sign Language (ASL), Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, Japanese, Russian, Italian, French, Chinese, Korean, and Biblical Greek or Hebrew (including Bibles in Hebrew or Hebrew/Greek/English)
  • 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, Christian, and trade/DIY (e.g., plumbing, woodworking). Especially needed are books written at around an 8th grade level.

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, romance, westerns, mysteries, and other genres typically read for fun. (We usually have more than enough classic literature in Spanish.)
  • Christian fiction other than the Left Behind series

Books for Prison Book Clubs

As of April 3, 2021, 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)
  • Autobiography of Assata Shakur (Assata Shakur)
  • Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
  • Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
  • Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexander Dumas)
  • Defending Jacob (William Landay)
  • The Distance Between Us (Reyna Grande)
  • 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)
  • Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
  • Ghost Boys (Jewel Parker Rhodes)
  • A Good Country (Laleh Khadivi)
  • The Great Pretender (Susannah Cahalan)
  • The Green Mile (Stephen King)
  • The Hobbit (JRR Tolkien)
  • I am One of You Forever (Fred Chappell)
  • Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison)
  • The Light Between Oceans (M.L. Stedman)
  • The Martian (Andy Weir)
  • On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
  • Parable of the Sower (Octavia Butler)
  • Prisons are Obsolete (Angela Davis)
  • Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson (George Jackson)
  • Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)
  • The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home (Carol Rifka Brunt)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  • Wonder (R.J. Palacio)
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M. Pirsig)

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.

In compliance with Foundry's mask policy and DC law, 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)gmail.com 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, a place in Washington DC where they can be donated is Carpe Librum at 1220 19th Street NW.