Book Recommendation for an Inmate


My brother is in prison for manslaughter following a fight while under the influence of drugs. He has been forgiven by the family (the victim was very antagonistic and was Also heavily under the influence), but even after all of these years (8), he can’t forgive himself. I want to send him a book to help him cope and would like some recommendations.

Thank you all and God bless!


Get him a Bible.


Your family have been through a great deal (as will the other family affected, so my heart goes to you all, and my immediate response is to pray for you all, the other family, for healing of body, of mind, of their harmful resentments, and for you brother, your parents, your family in the continuing difficult times ahead.

I found a list of saints who were prisoners, although one significant saint isn’t mentioned as he was kidnapped, nevertheless he was prisoner, Saint Patrick. Would there be a priest who vsits the prison that holds your brother? A good Catholic chaplain? You may find advice, support, and prayer through one if available.

The gospels are a good way to begin, though if your post catches the eye of anyone in the prison ministry, they might provide you with links to appropriate and helpful books to help your brother to grown in wisdom and faith.

God bless you and your family members.


The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis


There are no doubt plenty of Bibles in the prison library but if I were to suggest one it would have to be Catholic. Without knowing the reading level, it’s hard to say, but the NAB-RE is “high school level.”
As far as books–The Imitation of Christ (there are a couple of modern translations), and The Catechism of St. Pius X, for starters. Both brilliant, readable, and rock solidly Catholic.


I was keying in my post while you were posting yours, Dan. :smiley:


‘Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.’ - Philippians 2:2 :grinning:


Off topic but if he’s Catholic and has not been to Confession I’d encourage him to go.

The conversion of St. Paul may be good too.


I’ve read the book myself and highly recommend it, prison chaplains got me through my time in prison and planted the seeds and I am now flourishing.


Arise from Darkness by clinical psychologist and Franciscan Friar Fr. Benedict Groeschel†.

Available here or here.


What’s his education level? You don’t want to give him something full of weighty theology he might not be ready to tackle.


Wow. I’m so sorry to hear about such a family misfortune. Truly.
You sound like your a very good and faithful brother to him !
May - you always be so :innocent:

I just recently, by recommendation, watched a music video - by Bad Wolves -
I guess the singer of this band - was attacked by his own brother -
sentenced to jail - died in prison -
and the song says what basically happened.

I’d have to think about my book recommendation -
Good question !


Wow! A lot of great recommendations here and I thank you all! My brother isn’t Catholic (we had no formal religious background growing up and I myself am a Convert Catholic of 24 yrs now), but he has been in and out of a prayer group in the prison. I am an Active Duty Marine and I’m stationed on the other side of the country from where my brother is doing his time, so my only real contact is by letters. He is extraordinarily intelligent, but drugs and alcohol (along with “the wrong crowd”) in high school were his ultimate downfall from becoming a successful adult.

I think there are a couple of these books that I’ll send him and I’ll probably reach out to the prison to see if I can contact a Catholic chaplain to talk to him, as well.

Thank you all again so much for the recommendations and God bless! Semper Fi!


Diary of St. Faustina


The little way of Saint Therese of Lisieux


“A Way in the Wilderness; A Commentary on the Rule of Benedict for the Physically and Spiritually Imprisoned” by James Bishop (Continuum 2012)

The author was a prisoner himself, and the Rule of St. Benedict and Christian Meditation helped him through the ordeal. The structured life of a monastic, with discipline, order and everything by schedule, actually applies well for those in prison, the author discovered, if seen the right way.

Christian Meditation as taught by Father John Main is not the way of prayer for everyone, but it certainly helped the author maintain his equilibrium and sanity in the very stressful environment of prison.

I hope the OP’s brother gets through this experience as well as can be! I worked with an ex-con who had been incarcerated for 27 years. He was a great guy - good sense of humor - when I knew him.


In most US prisons, inmates may only receive books from the approved vendors.

See what the rules are in his prison, and then maybe post a link to what is available and get advice from there.

For example, here is one random prison:


If it is available on the list, I’d begin with Peter Kreeft’s “Jesus Shock” and Trent Horn’s “Why We’re Catholic”. Frank Sheed’s “To Know Christ Jesus” is another.


Confessions of St. Augustine. St. Augustine had a difficult past and a long journey to get to where he did in Christianity. It is a great book of hope. No matter how far gone, there is still redemption. The Imitation of Christ is also a great book to send him, but I would send it in combination with the Confessions of St. Augustine. One is a story of hope, one is how to live like Jesus.


He and I by Gabrielle Bossis. This book demonstrates very well how much Jesus cares for us and loves us and wants us to be joyful. He might like it.

The Diary of St. Faustina, St. Gemma Galgani’s Diary, the Bible, The Imitation of Christ are all great suggestions.

One other one that I think might speak to him, would be the Sadness of Christ. I haven’t read it yet, so I would give it a read before you send it, but from what I heard it’s really good. St. Thomas More wrote it while imprisoned and waiting execution in the Tower of London.

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