The Current

'The Prison Book Club' reveals sensitive side of inmates

Today, we focus on a group with plenty of time to read and look at how prison book clubs benefit the incarcerated and volunteers alike. Author Ann Walmsley joins us to talk about "The Prison Book Club".
Author Ann Walmsley has been involved in prison book clubs and says they offer positive benefits... both for the prisoners, and for herself. (Joy von Tiedemann )

Author Ann Walmsley has been involved in two prisoner book clubs. One was located at Collins Bay, a medium security prison in Ontario, and the other was at Warkworth Institution, a federal medium-security prison about two hours east of Toronto. 

In her new memoir, The Prison Book Club, Walmsley writes about her experience volunteering as she gets to know six of the inmates through deep discussions about literature. Friday host Piya Chattopadhyay spoke with Ann Walmsley in our Toronto studio.

Novels read and discussed in 'The Prison Book Club'

The Book of Negroes

Lawrence Hill's 2007 novel and later CBC miniseries is about a girl who is stolen from her home in West Africa and forced into slavery at a South Carolina plantation. Hill's epic was named after the historical document which recorded the names and descriptions of Loyalist slaves who were granted their freedom and sent to Nova Scotia.

Ordinary Thunderstorms

William Boyd's thriller looks at London's dark underbelly through the eyes of a young climatologist who gets into trouble and must go on the run after a chance encounter with a stranger.

The Grapes of Wrath 

The 1939 novel from author John Steinbeck is a well-known American literary classic. It chronicles the desperate journey of an Oklahoma family who must leave their farm during the Great Depression in hope of a better life in California.

The Zookeeper's Wife 

Author and naturalist Diane Ackerman re-creates the real story of Polish zookeepers who saved hundreds of lives by hiding people from the Nazis in empty animal cages.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Mark Haddon's best-selling mystery is told from the perspective of a teen boy with a unique way of experiencing the world. When a neighbour's dog is found dead, the young protagonist channels Sherlock Holmes and sets off to find the killer.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.