The Prison Book Club

The Prison Book Club

Book Club Kit - 2016
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Ten years ago Ann Walmsley was mugged outside her house in Hampstead. She suffered PTSD and for a long time afterwards was afraid to walk down the street alone.
A few years later, her friend Carol asked her to participate in a bold new venture in a men's medium security prison. Ann was initially apprehensive- did she really want to be surrounded by violent criminals? Luckily, her curiosity won over, and she signed up for eighteen months, attending weekly meetings in a remote building a few hours outside of Toronto. 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. 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.
We follow six book-club members who kept journals at Walmsley's request and participated in candid one-on-one conversations. Graham the biker, Frank the gunman, Ben and Dread the drug dealers, and the robber duo Gaston and Peter reveal their life stories and world views through their thoughts on a wide range of books and characters.
Publisher: St. Albert, AB :, SAPL,, 2016
ISBN: 9781780748634
Branch Call Number: WALMS
Characteristics: 8 books, 1 manual ; in plastic container


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racing14 Sep 10, 2017

A wonderful book that documents the author's journey confronting her fear in a unique way. Books and reading have a powerful effect. It was interesting to read how the group discussion went as I had read many of the books.
A great book club selection

Dec 25, 2016

This is a very good book, and I was happy to hear that these book clubs exist in Canadian penal institutions. The insight that many of the prisoners had were very interesting to read, and I enjoyed their critiques of the books they read. I belong to a library based book club, and our group has read many of the same books as noted here. Highly recommend.

Sep 26, 2016

The Prison Book Club, journalist Ann Walmsley's memoir about running a book club in an Ontario men's prison, has been crowned the winner of the 2016 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction.

May 30, 2016

An insightful look into the minds of the book club members as they comment on the many books they've read. Congratulations to the people who have contributed to this prison activity.

smc01 Mar 15, 2016

As the moderator of library book clubs, I found this to be an amazingly insightful read. There is a lot to be admired in the prison book clubs, in the people who run them and the prisoners who are members. The book is full of tips for running a successful book club meeting and of unexpectedly insightful comments from the men. Ann Walmsley was honest in voicing her concerns in working with the prisoners. I love her conclusion - that given the choice between attending a meeting of her women's book club in Toronto and and attending a meeting of the prison book club, she would take the prison book club every time.

dairyqueen Jan 07, 2016

I really enjoyed reading the inmates comments on the many books I have read.

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