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Conference Tasters #2: Erwin James

April 3, 2012

It’s time for the second interview in our series of  ‘Conference Tasters’, where we give you the chance to get to know our special guest speakers a little bit better.

This week’s star is Erwin James, writer and journalist, who also happens to be one of our new patrons. Erwin, a former prisoner, believes that reading and education changed his life, and today he is best known for his Guardian columns and his contributions to the debate on the role of prisons in our society.

He is appearing at our National Conference, 17-18th May, in a panel discussion on ‘Why Shared Reading Works in Criminal Justice Settings’, providing a unique personal perspective on the issues involved.

Here’s what he had to say when we caught up with him recently:

What is the last book you read that moved you?

‘Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self’ by Claire Tomalin, an exquisite insight into a complex life. By the end of the book I felt I knew this man so well, I felt that Tomalin’s almost forensic narrative had allowed me the privilege of sharing his life’s trials. 

Why are you interested in what The Reader Organisation does?

TRO promotes and encourages reading as a shared rather than a solitary experience. Most of my reading I’ve done in forced isolation, but when I was able to read with others and share and discuss what we had read, I found I got so much more out of a book. It’s for that reason especially that I am interested in the work of TRO.

To hear more from Erwin, as well as all our other exciting speakers, come along to The Reader Organisation’s 3rd Annual National Conference, 17-18th May, British Library, London. For information on which day is for you, and how to book your place, visit our website.


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