Books To Read After Prison

Returning to society after a period of incarceration can be a challenging journey. Yet, this journey can be made easier through the power of the written word. Books open up worlds and offer diverse perspectives, providing a gateway to understanding, healing, and growth. The right book can offer solace, inspire change, or even present practical guidance for navigating life post-prison.

In this blog post, we will explore a variety of books suitable for individuals transitioning back into society after prison. From fiction to non-fiction, self-help to skill-building, and inspirational biographies, these books can help guide, comfort, and empower during this crucial period.

Stay with us as we delve into a world where books act as companions, teachers, and sources of inspiration for those reentering society after incarceration.

The Power of Reading Post-Incarceration

Cognitive Benefits of Reading

Reading has always been celebrated for its cognitive benefits. Regular engagement with text stimulates mental faculties, improving focus, concentration, and memory. It encourages critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, essential skills for anyone, especially those transitioning back to society.

Emotional Impact of Reading

Beyond the cognitive perks, reading has profound emotional benefits. It offers an escape, provides solace, and fosters empathy. By engaging with characters and their struggles, readers can feel less alone in their own experiences. Particularly for individuals post-incarceration, books can serve as a source of comfort, helping them navigate complex emotions associated with their return to society.

Fiction Books for Post-Incarceration Reading

Curated List of Fiction Books

Among the numerous genres of books, fiction holds a special place for its ability to transport readers into different worlds. For individuals reintegrating post-incarceration, this can be a therapeutic diversion.

  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee: This classic novel offers lessons on morality, injustice, and the human capacity for goodness, despite imperfections.
  • “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho: A philosophical book about following one’s dreams and listening to one’s heart.
  • “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo: A story of redemption that explores themes of law, grace, and justice.

Themes in Fiction Books

The selected fiction books focus on themes such as resilience, redemption, and new beginnings, all highly relevant to individuals post-incarceration. They demonstrate how characters overcome challenges, fostering empathy and resilience in readers. This can empower readers to see their potential for transformation and growth, thus aiding their reintegration into society.

Non-fiction Books for Post-Incarceration Reading

Relevant Non-fiction Books

Non-fiction books can provide valuable insights into real-life experiences, practical wisdom, and guidance. Here are some noteworthy picks:

  • “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl: A Holocaust survivor’s account of finding purpose in life, even in the direst of circumstances.
  • “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle: A guide to spiritual enlightenment, emphasizing the importance of living in the present moment.
  • “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman: A book that delves into the two systems that drive the way we think—fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, deliberate thinking.

Themes in Non-fiction Books

These non-fiction books have been chosen for their themes of personal development, growth, and real-life success stories. They demonstrate the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity, inspire change, and provide practical guidance for personal development. Reading these can provide individuals post-incarceration with insights and motivation to rebuild their lives and navigate societal reintegration.

Self-Help Books for Emotional and Mental Growth

Valuable Self-Help Books

Self-help books can be particularly beneficial for those returning to society post-incarceration. These books provide guidance for emotional healing and personal growth, offering actionable steps and insights.

  • “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz: This book provides a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.
  • “Atomic Habits” by James Clear: A practical guide to habit formation, offering techniques to break bad habits and form good ones.
  • “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk: A book exploring the impact of trauma on the body and mind, and strategies for recovery.

Self-Help Books for Emotional Wellbeing

The recommended self-help books emphasize themes like emotional healing, overcoming personal obstacles, and improving one’s quality of life. These concepts can be especially useful for individuals post-incarceration, aiding in self-understanding, self-improvement, and emotional wellbeing. Through these books, readers can gain valuable tools for personal transformation and emotional resilience, vital for their reintegration into society.

Books on Reintegration and Skill Building

Books Focused on Skills Needed for Reintegration

Certain books focus specifically on skills crucial for reintegration into society post-incarceration. These books provide advice and practical tips on a range of topics, from job search to interpersonal skills.

  • “What Color is Your Parachute?” by Richard Nelson Bolles: A comprehensive guide that provides strategies for finding meaningful work.
  • “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie: A classic book offering practical advice to communicate effectively and build strong relationships.
  • “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck: This book explores the concept of “mindset” and discusses how our beliefs about our abilities can impact our success.

How These Books Can Aid Reintegration

The suggested books in this category are designed to aid with various aspects of reintegration, such as job hunting, building relationships, and developing a positive mindset. By providing practical advice and strategies, these books can serve as guides for those looking to rebuild their lives post-incarceration. The skills and insights gained from these books can help individuals successfully navigate the challenges of reintegrating into society.

Inspirational Biographies and Autobiographies

List of Inspiring Biographies and Autobiographies

Biographies and autobiographies allow us to learn from the experiences of others. The following are some notable examples that can inspire those post-incarceration:

  • “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou: A powerful autobiography detailing the early years of the American poet and civil rights activist.
  • “The Pursuit of Happyness” by Chris Gardner: The real-life story of Chris Gardner’s journey from homelessness to becoming a successful stockbroker.
  • “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela: An autobiography recounting Mandela’s journey from his early days to his fight against apartheid, and his 27 years in prison before becoming South Africa’s first Black president.

Real-life Stories for Motivation and Inspiration

These biographies and autobiographies depict real-life stories of people who faced significant adversity and yet managed to make remarkable achievements. They are particularly inspiring for individuals post-incarceration, demonstrating that circumstances can be overcome, and personal growth is possible. Reading these stories can provide motivation, hope, and a sense of possibility for the future.

The Role of Reading in Preventing Recidivism

Studies Showing Reading’s Impact on Recidivism

Research has consistently highlighted the role of education, including reading, in reducing recidivism. One key study by the RAND Corporation found that inmates who participate in education programs, like book clubs and reading groups, have 43% lower odds of returning to prison than those who do not.

Testimonials of Ex-prisoners

There are numerous testimonials from ex-prisoners who used reading as a tool for transformation. For instance, some individuals attribute their successful reintegration to the lessons they learned from books. Others express how reading helped them gain a new perspective, fostering empathy, understanding, and personal growth.

Through these testimonials, it becomes evident that reading can be a powerful tool for individuals post-incarceration, helping them navigate their journey towards successful reintegration.

Additional Book Recommendations

“A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle

A spiritual guide that helps readers discover their true purpose and how to better connect with the world. Selected for its emphasis on personal transformation and awakening, key themes for those post-incarceration.

“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls

A memoir detailing the author’s upbringing in a dysfunctional family and her journey to success. Chosen for its themes of resilience and overcoming adversity.

“Getting Out & Staying Out: A Black Man’s Guide to Success After Prison” by Demico Boothe

This book offers practical advice specifically for Black men reintegrating into society after prison. Selected for its focus on reentry strategies and the unique challenges faced by this demographic.

“Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell

A book exploring the factors that contribute to high levels of success. Included for its inspiring stories and insights into achieving personal success.

“The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams

A book presenting conversations between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu on finding lasting joy amidst life’s struggles. Selected for its focus on finding joy and peace, even in challenging circumstances.

“Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand

The true story of Louis Zamperini, a World War II soldier who survived a plane crash, 47 days adrift in the Pacific, and years in Japanese POW camps. Chosen for its powerful themes of survival, resilience, and redemption.

“Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek

A book on leadership and motivation, arguing that the most successful organizations focus on ‘why’ they do what they do, before ‘how’ or ‘what’. Selected for its insights into personal motivation and leadership, useful skills in reintegration.

“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

A self-help book providing essential principles for personal and professional effectiveness. Included for its practical advice on habit formation and personal effectiveness.

“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison

A novel about a man growing up in the South and moving to the North, dealing with issues of individuality, identity, and race. Chosen for its exploration of personal and societal issues relevant to many post-incarceration.

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama

The memoir of former First Lady Michelle Obama, discussing her life, work, and the experiences that shaped her. Selected for its inspiring narrative of personal growth and resilience.


In conclusion, books play a significant role in helping individuals reintegrate into society post-incarceration. They offer cognitive and emotional benefits, provide practical guidance, and inspire through the real-life stories of others.

Each book on this list serves a specific purpose – to empower, to educate, to provide solace, and to inspire change. They collectively cover a broad range of themes, from resilience and redemption, personal development and growth, to success stories and practical advice for societal reintegration.

Reading is not merely a pastime; for those post-incarceration, it can be a lifeline and a step towards healing and growth. So, pick up a book from this list, delve into its world, and embrace the transformative power of reading.

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