January 2021 – Reading Group Roundup

Read the original Reading Group Roundup in Inside Time here.

It’s not news that last year was very tough for prisons. But good things happened so let’s start 2021 with some whoopee.

Covid made face to face reading group meetings impossible in most prisons but many of PRG’s librarians, prison staff and volunteers went into action straightaway to keep things going. With the help of our Booktalk suggestions and resources, groups chose books for in-cell reading and then wrote comments to be shared with other members. A big challenge for everyone but brilliant responses show just how much appetite there is for reading and comparing views even – or especially – when the going gets rough.

PRG made eight awards, all of them for really outstanding work. One of the winners was librarian David at North Sea Camp ‘for his determination to get the men reading widely, critically – and with pleasure’.

His group’s choices ranged from Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor to Normal People by Sally Rooney and East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman. Jeffrey Archer’s Nothing Ventured provided some members with a great escape from lockdown:

I enjoyed this book, a good way to pass the time on a beach somewhere or in a prison cell during isolation

But it was Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test that really got readers thinking:

Absolutely fascinating…I read it in one sitting

Like an episode of Panorama and quite frightening with it…a really good piece of investigative journalism

The best tribute to David came in a surprise email to PRG ‘from a library somewhere in the North’:

I have recently been released from prison. I was part of the North Sea Camp book club for 12 months and we read some really good books (and some terrible ones too!) Dave deserves a lot of credit and I thought it would be nice to let you know his work does not go unnoticed

Read about all of our PRG awardees here and in the full Inside Time article here.

Books collected by a reading group member
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