The redemptive power of reading books

23 December 2021

Ally Colquitt, writing for The Guardian, on the part reading books played in her rehabilitation, while serving a prison sentence a few years ago.

This was the mindset I was in when I was alone in my cell at Silverwater Mulawa centre, awaiting “classo” (classification) – with a broken TV, no pen and paper, nothing to do except think. I noticed that the previous inmate had left a couple of library books on the table. I picked up an abandoned copy of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol and began to read. I didn’t know the impact that poem would have on me, and how it would play a part in changing my world view and my life direction.

Colquitt argues those incarcerated should have greater access to books, and why not? Especially considering some of the publications sitting on the shelves in bookstores stand to be destroyed if not sold, wouldn’t it better if they could be of help to others?