Jill Grunenwald is a writer and speaker from Cleveland. Along with writing essays that have appeared in BUST and Tor.com, she is also the creator and co-host of the Professional Book Nerds podcast and has been a contributor on NPR’s OnPoint. She is the author of two memoirs.
Jill Grunenwald speaks about writing and publishing. Audience: Adult.
READING BEHIND BARS: A TRUE STORY OF LITERATURE, LAW, AND LIFE AS A PRISON LIBRARIAN (2019): In December 2008, twentysomething Jill Grunenwald graduated with her master’s degree in library science, ready to start living her dream of becoming a librarian. But the economy had a different idea. As the Great Recession reared its ugly head, jobs were scarce. After some searching, however, Jill was lucky enough to snag one of the few librarian gigs left in her home state of Ohio. The catch? The job was behind bars as the prison librarian at a men’s minimum-security prison. Talk about baptism by fire.
As an untested twentysomething woman, to say that the job was out of Jill’s comfort zone was an understatement. She was forced to adapt on the spot, speedily learning to take the metal detectors, hulking security guards, and colorful inmates in stride. Over the course of a little less than two years, Jill came to see past the bleak surroundings and the orange jumpsuits and recognize the humanity of the men stuck behind bars. They were just like every other library patron—persons who simply wanted to read, to be educated and entertained through the written word. By helping these inmates, Jill simultaneously began to recognize the humanity in everyone and to discover inner strength that she never knew she had.
RUNNING WITH A POLICE ESCORT: TALES FROM THE BACK OF THE PACK (2017): In the fall of 2012, quirky and cat-loving Cleveland librarian Jill Grunenwald got an alarming email from her younger sister: her sister was very concerned with Jill’s weight and her overall mental and physical health. Having always struggled with her weight, Jill was currently hitting the scales at more than three hundred pounds. Right then, Jill looked in the mirror and decided that she needed to make a life-style change, pronto. She enrolled in Weight Watchers and did something else that she never thought she’d do: Jill started running. And believe it or not, it wasn’t that bad. Actually, it was kind of fun.
Three months later, Jill did the previously unthinkable and ran her very first 5k at the Cleveland Metropolitan Zoo. Battling the infamous hills of the course, Jill conquered her fears and finished—but in dead last. Yep, the police were reopening the streets behind her. But Jill didn’t let that get her down—because when you run for your health and happiness, your only real competition is yourself.
In Running with a Police Escort, Jill Grunenwald chronicles the racing adventures that helped her get fit, find happiness, and learn to love running at the back of the pack.
Both heartbreaking and hilarious, Running with a Police Escort is a touching and insightful journey about conquering fears and learning to love yourself, no matter what place you finish in.
This is a must-read for everyone hoping to make a lifestyle change, for runners of all shapes, sizes, and speeds, and for those who have never won a race but still love the sport.