The piece provoked a furious reaction on social media.
The guidelines are set out in this document, published at the end of last year.
In fact books aren't the only thing the scheme offers. Even a video games console can be obtained as long as it doesn't have an internet connection.
The full list can be seen on page 49 here.
BuzzFeed has asked the Ministry of Justice for more details on the books that are available, whether cuts are impacting library services, as well as whether it's possible to send prisoners books via a postal retailer like Amazon.
Updated: March 24, 3.45 p.m. GMT:
BuzzFeed understands that British prisons are legally obliged to provide libraries. Governmental sources are claiming that they can find no evidence of cuts to the library budget.
They also tell us prisoners are not able to order books through Amazon, but they can request for them to be ordered: the prison governor will have discretion over that so they can control the content coming into the prisons.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform has also offered a new statement:
"If the Ministry of Justice allows prisoners to be sent credit from outside, then why on earth would they ban friends and family from sending in books and insist instead that prisoners must buy the books themselves?
"The reality is that most prisoners on an 'entry' or 'standard' regime will be allowed no more than £10 or £15.50 a week, which means that almost all a prisoner's weekly allowance would be spent on just one title. Even the most ardent book lovers tend not to spend all of their weekly wage on what they read.
"Over the last year, because of shrinking prison budgets, staff cuts and increasing numbers, prisoners have been spending even longer in their cells without access to facilities such as libraries.
"It is common for prisoners to spend 20 hours a day in their cells during the week. At weekends they can be cooped up from Friday lunchtime until Monday morning. Conditions have deteriorated so much in recent months that this has become a major concern.
"In those circumstances it is the little things that make a difference. Being able to read a book is a lifeline and a way of nourishing the mind.
"As families and friends are now forbidden from sending basic items into prison, prisoners are sitting in stinking cells, wearing dirty clothes, with nothing to do and not even a book to read. We urge the government to reconsider this draconian measure."