#BooksforPrisoners Advent Calendar Day 20

The #BooksforPrisoners Advent calendar is a ‘Literary Protest’ against the restrictions on books being sent to UK prisoners

Every day until Christmas, a leading writer will be recommending the book that they would send to a prisoner as part of English PEN and the Howard League’s Books for Prisoners campaign.

Whilst the campaign saw a major victory recently, with the High Court ruling that the ban on books for prisoners was unlawful, we need to keep up the pressure until family and friends are once again able to send books to their loved ones in prisons.

Today: Ben Markovits

It’s hard to recommend books to people when you don’t know them. Liking a book also depends a little on the introduction. Sometimes you have to be introduced twice. My uncle gave me a copy of Hornblower and the Hotspur when I was a kid – I think the opening scene talks about Hornblower’s marriage, he was leaving his wife to go to sea, and I gave up. A few years later I picked up the novel again and didn’t stop reading, more or less, until I’d read the whole series. From C. S. Forester, I moved on to Patrick O’Brian – and here I started in the usual way, at the beginning, with Master and Commander. I loved these, too. I suspect they may be even better than the Hornblower novels, but both series do what books promise you so generously when you’re a kid: offer a world, which, because it’s written down, you can get to know better than the one around you.

View the advent calendar here

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