Reading helped Ian Olsen get through a five-year jail term and by writing two books he hopes reading will help others through hard times as well.
His two books are Anthology of Anthropoids and Wise, or otherwise. Anthology of Anthropoids is a 106-page book with 101 illustrations of things with the word “ant” in them. Published in 2017, the book gives the reader a humorous understanding of the life of an ant.
Wise, or otherwise was also published in 2017. It is a collection of 17 poems in which the author reflects on his life lessons, injustice and challenges in South Africa and how to overcome them.
Mr Olsen was in Pollsmoor for five years for theft. He grew up in several orphanages and was abused as a child. He started abusing drugs at 17 and was mostly addicted to cocaine.
He says he joined a gang in prison to survive his sentence but has since left it and is drug free for 13 years now. He passed the time in prison by reading anything he could find, he says, and since his release in 2005 has been selling his books outside the Silwood Centre in Rondebosch.
The 65-year-old from Kewtown says Wise, or otherwise is meant to encourage people to help each through life’s challenges.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on my own, and I like writing and reading, and that’s what inspired me to write the books. In prison, I did a lot of reading to pass the time. There wasn’t much else to do. I enjoyed reading when I was younger, but I left school in Standard 8 and couldn’t continue, but because I’ve always been very curious I started reading again. I just hope that these books can help someone.”