Jane Austen (Image: Encyclopaedia Britannica)

This week, a judge in Lincolnshire took a novel approach to countering a budding white supremacist by sentencing him to... the magic of reading.

Ben John, a 21-year-old Nazi sympathiser long identified as a terror risk, who had been writing anti-immigrant and homophobic letters before graduating to downloading instructions on how to build a bomb, was found guilty in August of possessing material likely to be useful for preparing an act of terror. The charge carries with it a potential 15-year prison sentence.

John missed out on jail time "by the skin of his teeth". Instead, he's been set homework of reading the great English canon -- swapping out white-supremacist literature for the work of Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens.