Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Prison Book Club by Ann Walmsley

I wish I liked this book more than I did. The concept is amazing, but I found the writing style to be a bit too dry, and pretty much just a prime example of why I have traditionally avoided non-fiction books.

This was our book club selection for our June meeting and it is the only time I can remember when no one in the group had finished the book. Shocking!

Ann Walmsley tells the story of how she joined her friend, Carol Finlay, who held book club meetings in the Collins Bay Prison near Kingston, Ontario. Having personally been the victim of a violent mugging while living in London, England, Ann found it difficult to walk into the prison and get to know the inmates on a personal level. However, she faced her fears and her life changed a result.

The men they encountered in the prison were intelligent, insightful and loved reading. They loved discussing the books given to them each month and looked forward to their meetings as more than just a way to escape prison life for a short time. Some of the men even began a book club at their new minimum security prison when they were reassigned there.

Ann encouraged the men to journal their thoughts about the books they were reading which often turned up even more insightful thoughts which hadn't been discussed in their meetings. They read a great variety of books, and my "To Be Read" list grew as I worked my way through this book.

So, all in all, the concept was exciting and interesting. However, the writing style was incredibly dry and it became too much of an account of what happened, instead of a compelling look inside the book clubs.

If you are interested in reading more about the book clubs meeting in prisons, by all means, pick it up. You will enjoy it, it just won't be the most exciting book you've ever read. You can also check out the website for Book Clubs for Inmates.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sue,
    I really enjoyed the story of Carol Finlay more than the author's experiences. Carol was amazing- she thought of so many little things to help the inmates- even when they left the prison.
    I agree that the concept is the best part of the book. Thank you for including the website.
    Maybe not an exciting book to read but I found it inspiring that people can find so many ways to make a difference in the world. Influencing prisoners for good is a wonderful way to improve the world.