Books for Prison: What would you suggest for a Top Ten List?


Our church is collecting softcover books to give to our local pre-trial prison. I love books. My 6-year-old reminded me yesterday of a poster at her school that reads: “Some of my best friends are books.” How true. You just have to walk through the front door of our house to see that books are part of the walls, counters, sidetables and–I hope–the very air in our home.

I could lose the iPod, the fridge, even the dryer, but please don’t take my books.

So, our church asked for some donations. Here’s the thing: I could go through my library and donate the books I might not particularly want any more, but I want to do something different. I have a $250 gift card to Chapters/Indigo Books that I want to invest into our local prison. I want to give these men and women the gift of some of my most precious reading experiences. If these books have changed my life, I’d like to share the love.

Today I am making a list and would love your input. It would probably work out to ten books. So, keeping the audience in mind-if there’s one book you think someone should read, what would it be? Which books have been your game-changers? If you could suggest one, two or three most amazing, favorite books, what would these be?

I can hardly wait.

  • Rob Ryser

    I nominate any of the four Dostoevsky masterpieces. They are all tremendous. I would put them in the following order

    1. “Demons” (also translated sometimes as The Possessed) — a masterful novel about the emptiness of nihilism and godlessness

    2. Brothers Karamazov

    3. The Idiot

    4. Crime and Punishment

  • Keren

    I know many people, including myself, that love John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart for men and the companion book he wrote with his wife, Captivating, for women.

  • idelette

    Yes, yes and yes! Rob, I’ll probably choose one of those, but what great suggestions. And Keren, those two are definitely going on the list.

  • Erin Wilson

    I don’t know the demographic of the prison… I’d probably suggest different books for the younger crowd than an older crowd, and different books for men or women.

    That said, I’d likely choose The Shack, and Stumbling Toward Faith by Renée Altson. One is fiction, one not. They both deal with faith in the presence of profound hurt. If there is one generalization I would make about folks who end up in prison, it is that they are usually dealing with profound hurt.

    This is a brilliant idea. Folks in prison (and even more so in a pre-trial prison) spend a lot of time waiting, with not a lot to do.