Ultimately, nobody wanted to be there and for me a good book was simply the best escapism. But I’ve always felt that good literature makes real life more interesting and beautiful too, and it was a time when I needed that more than ever.
As Britain faces the possibility of a ban on sending books to prisoners, The Guardian talks to prisoners about the gift of reading.
Another former inmate says:
The act of reading for eight [to] ten hours a day was one of absolute bliss… The literature I was reading didn’t really change me, but the act of reading taught me how to cope with the time. Time is a river, and in jail/prison it moves at the rate of molasses (the metaphor is not mine). And it also taught me how much I love books, even the bad ones. As perverse as this sounds, I would do the time again if only I could select what books were available.
Given the chance, literature will burst the bounds of race, culture and class.
I’d known since I was a child that I was going to live in New York eventually, and that everything in between would just be an intermission. I’d spent all those years imagining what New York was going to be like. I thought it was going to be the most exciting, magical, fraught-with-possibility place that you could ever live; a place where if you really wanted something you might be able to get it; a place where I’d be surrounded by people I was dying to know; a place where I might be able to become the only thing worth being, a journalist. And I’d turned out to be right
To look at her, you might not guess that inside she is laughing and crying, at her own stupidities and luckiness, and at the strange enigmatic ways of the world which she will spend a lifetime trying to learn and understand.