by Ann Walmsley - £8.99 Oneworld Publications (2016)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781780748634 | ISBN 10: 1780748639
After Ann Walmsley was mugged near her house in Hampstead, she found she was unable to walk alone down the street and it shook her belief in the fundamental goodness of people. In Canada a few years later, when her friend Carol asked her to participate in a bold new venture in a men�s medium security prison, Ann had to weigh her curiosity and desire to be of service with her anxiety and fear.
But she signed up and for eighteen months went to a remote building a few hours outside of Toronto, meeting a group of heavily tattooed book club members without the presence of guards or security cameras. There was no wine and cheese, plush furnishings, or superficial chat about jobs or recent vacations. But a book club on the inside proved to be a place to share ideas, learn about each other, and regain humanity.
For the men, the books were rare prized possessions, and the meetings were an oasis of safety and a respite from isolation in an otherwise hostile environment. Having been judged themselves, they were quick to make judgments about the books they read. As they discussed the obstacles the characters faced, they revealed glimpses of their own struggles that were devastating and comic. From The Grapes of Wrath to The Cellist of Sarajevo, and Outliers to Infidel, the book discussions became a springboard for frank conversations about loss, anger, redemption, heroism and loneliness.
(Price & availability last checked: November 2016)
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In booklists: Prisons & Punishment, Books About Books!, In categories: Society, Welfare, Justice & the State, Humour, Gifts & Seasonal, Poetry & Writing,