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Author Ann Walmsley suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after a violent mugging. So, when a friend invited her to join a book club she had founded in a federal prison, Walmsley was initially crippled with fear. But she agreed because of her desire to both see good in all people and to satisfy her curiosity—“would literature change the men’s lives in any way?”

With the permission of prison officials, Walmsley chronicled prison book club meetings from 2011-2012. As she met monthly with convicted murderers, robbers, drug traffickers, and gangsters, discussing books as varied as The Cellist of Sarajevo and Infidel, she gradually experienced healing.

Walmsley’s narrative provides a realistic, at times painful, look at life in prison—violence, drugs, racism, loneliness, boredom, and hopelessness—in light of the power of great literature and nonfiction to foster empathy, eradicate racial barriers, and offer insights into people’s motivations and life-altering choices. (Viking)

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