Fantasy tops inmate reading list

Last published on 27 Dec 2019 

Epic fantasy novel A Game of Thrones was the most popular book borrowed from the state’s prison libraries in 2019, according to a top five list released by Corrective Services NSW.

The George R. R. Martin page-turner was followed closely by the hefty 936-page Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E Feist, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Crime Scene Cessnock by Robert G Barrett.

Library Services Manager Toni Kennedy said about 8,200 inmates carried library cards with access to more than 136,000 titles on the prison library’s shelves.

“True-crime tops the list of inmate books requested, and rejected, but it should go without saying that those books are banned,” Ms Kennedy said.

“While some of the state’s roughest and toughest enjoy a good thriller, it isn’t the only genre that is peaking the interest of those doing time. Another popular request is the vampire fantasy novels in the Twilight saga.”

Assistant Commissioner Governance and Continuous Improvement Carlo Scassera said the CSNSW Library Department was established by Ms Kennedy in 2003 and it now has seven staff and numerous inmate library-clerks working across the state.

“Access to books is highly valued by inmates as it not only provides entertainment but educational, social and spiritual rehabilitation,” Mr Scassera said.

“It’s a way for inmates to learn something new or disappear to another world for a while. It’s also a chance for some offenders to improve their literacy skills, which can assist them post-release, as well as a management tool for staff to keep inmates busy.”

All prisons have one to four libraries, varying in size from a cupboard to a full facility.

The catalogue includes new release titles and second-hand books donated by public libraries and private individuals.

When it comes to educational non-fiction, top picks include the Macquarie Dictionary, the RMS Road Users’ Handbook, A Practical Encyclopaedia of

Drawing and Bill Bryson’s popular science book, A Short History of Nearly Everything.

The most read books in NSW correctional centres in 2019:
1. A Game of Thrones – the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
2. Shantaram – a partly fictional autobiography about an Australian prison escapee who lands himself in Bombay, India.
3. A Darkness at Sethanon – a fantasy novel in a trilogy.
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by late Swedish author Stieg Larsson.
5. Crime Scene Cessnock – a murder mystery set in the NSW Hunter’s Pokolbin Valley.

Last updated:

26 Nov 2021

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