Inspiring Books: The choices of two life sentenced prisoners

Two life sentenced prisoners, to whom Fr Ian regularly writes, offer their choices in our Inspiring Books series.

First of all John tells us of his choice:

When I first went to prison, aged 15, I started reading to pass the time. I read mainly thrillers or horror stories. Years later aged about 27 I was in HMP Frankland, a high security prison and I decided to do GCSE English. I’d never done a GCSE in my life so thought I’d give it a go. For this I had to read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It was hard and long read. for me. But I came to see it was a really good book with far more in it than other books I’d read. It involved a whole range of emotions and after reading it I was inspired to read better books and open my mind to some proper literature – more interesting, more meaningful. It also inspired me to get a Grade A GCSE!


Secondly, Ken, who has been in prison for over 35 years, tells us his choice:

A book which has greatly inspired me is The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz. A true story of a Polish officer’s escape from a Siberian Gulag and his incredible walk back to Poland. It’s a wonderful story of endurance and hope for freedom, and refusal to give up … it’s full of shifting thoughts, feelings, emotions and struggles, where you can’t help relating to the people and what they go through. I was moved to tears at times reading it. It has given me hope and a will not to give up, and has strengthened me in my Christian faith.

Thank you to Ken and John for these inspiring choices.

This post is the seventh in our ongoing series in which different people share their Inspiring Books, for the first post, the choices of two University Librarians,  click here. and for the second, the choice of two students, click here. In the third post two women priests gave their choices here.  We crossed the sea to the US for our fourth post the choice of  two young ladies – here. Our fifth choice was from two local children and teachers, and two cathedral deans offered their choices here.


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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