Monday, 11 April 2016

The Prison Book Club

   I love book clubs, but this is one that I will not be attending!
   The author is friends with a woman named Carol Findlay, who started this charity organization.
   Book Clubs for Inmates is run by volunteers who have developed 22 book clubs in penitentiaries in seven provinces.
It is run by a board of directors.
   The author of this book was asked to help in book selection and she was involved for a couple of years with two of the book clubs.  
    This book was interesting for me because I had read most of the books they were discussing.  But I was more interested in a woman who was so committed in her concern for improving the lives of those who spent time in prison.  She follows them to half-way houses, often starting book clubs there.  She uses her influence in an upper-class society to raise money to buy new books, but she continues to use her influence to help to find jobs, or even have proper clothes for a job interview when they are released.  She finds many ways to influence these people in a positive way.
Quote: "Never leave prison with a partly-read book.  You will return to complete it."  (That's what the prisoners say)
   I definitely can see the value of this experience.  Reading fiction is about developing empathy. My guess is that most prisoners never developed any in childhood.  Thus, a life of crime.
  One prisoner said that "literature had elevated something inside".
  Carol, the organizer, planned many experiences for her book clubs.  One experience was "reading in tandem" with a well-to-do book club in Toronto.  They would exchange thoughts on the book they were reading.  It connected the prisoners to the real world and meant that their thoughts were important. Lawrence Hill was one of the authors that Carol arranged to visit some of the book clubs. He was always interested in hearing their thoughts.
  When the author of this book, Ann Wamsley, got involved, she met many of the prisoners individually in order to find their interests and get feed-back on books.  She gave each of the really keen members a notebook to record thoughts.  These 'keeners' were used as ambassadors to encourage the others to finish books and look for new members.
There can never be enough book clubs!

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