Scottish Librarians Reveal Most Borrowed Books... By Prisoners
'Tis the season for recognizing the best authors and books out there. Goodreads announced their picks, as did Amazon, as did the Nobel committee. Winning one of these awards is a pretty big deal, as it signifies a recognition most authors strive to achieve. Whether you agree with the selections or not, the authors who win these awards provided a product that their audience wanted, and won big time.
But Scottish librarians recently called out the most popularly-read works from a lesser-represented demographic. I guess the title gave it away, so yes, we're talking about prisoners.
It shouldn't raise any eyebrows that some of the most requested books were by authors popular in the non-criminal population. Lee Child, James Patterson, and George R.R. Martin to top out the list, as would be expected. Prisoners aren't exempt from getting caught up in the works of celebrity authors.
Perhaps also unsurprisingly, a lot of crime books seemed to be requested by inmates.
The Glasgow jail offers a vast selection of real-life crime books to borrow, including the likes of Spree Killers: Devastating Massacres, Edinburgh Murders And Misdemeanours, Murder Is My Business and Execution: A Guide To The Ultimate Penalty.
American romantic suspense novelist Karen Rose’s 2007 book Die For Me, about an archaeologist who falls for a serial killer, was one of this year’s most popular reads at Glenochil.
Yes, even Hitler's Mein Kampf is available at some of the libraries, because of course it is.
Mixed in are the literary classics, biographies, and... what? Fifty Shades of Grey is available to inmates? Why?
A spokeswoman added: “The Scottish Prison Service actively encourages those in our custody to engage in activities that boost their reading skills, as a vast number of offenders struggle with low literacy levels, and welcome any interest shown by prisoners in accessing library services.”
...okay. Well, if nothing else, I have an excuse to make the most hilariously-linked Amazon list at the bottom of this article.
Prison libraries face their own special challenges in providing reading material to inmates. Some of the works on this list gave me a knee-jerk reaction, such as the idea of Hitler's manifesto being passed around a prison, but I have a hard time formulating an argument against it that doesn't counter a lot of the beliefs I have about free speech in the non-prison community. What do you think?
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