It will come as no surprise to read that Fifty Shades is massively popular in women's prisons. The surprise may be that it is also popular among the men's prison population. "Their wives tell them to read it," said one reading group volunteer at the Prison Reading Groups conference at Roehampton University last week.
No matter whether it is requested, not all libraries will keep it in stock. Books with sexual content are sometimes banned. This is easy to understand in prisons holding sex offenders, but titles banned vary from prison to prison. While some allow the traditionally naughty titles such as Lolita to be kept on library shelves, others ban anything to do with vampires or even neuro linguistic programming.
Many of the prison librarians at last week's event complained that they were drowning in World Book Night titles. One complained that they had so many copies of The Book Thief that they could prepare for a siege. Titles that seem popular in prisons are often those aimed at young adults, they provide a fast-pace of action with easy to read text. Something to consider when choosing titles for World Book Night.