Health and reading well

Books and reading can have a great effect on your health and wellbeing.

Keeping you well

From self-help books to health information and creative reading, your library can help you to get well and keep well in a number of ways.

Self-help books can be very effective when read on their own, or when used with counselling, therapy or prescribed medication and we stock copies of recommended titles chosen for the national Reading Well programme.

All the Reading Well books are approved by health experts, as well as by people living with the conditions, their relatives and carers. Your health professional can recommend a title - which is why Reading Well is sometimes still called Books on Prescription - or you can visit your local library and simply take a book out on your own.

Many titles are now available as eBooks for free loan. Please go to our eBooks and eAudio page and look for the OverDrive section. 

The current Reading Well selections are given below, and some also include many of the other books on our shelves to help you and those you care for.

Mental health conditions

Recommended books on mental health issues (pdf format, 1.57Mb) such as anger, anxiety, depression and stress.

For young people

List of books (pdf format, 117Kb) on mental health compiled by young people for young people. You will find self-help and information titles, graphic novels, memoirs and fiction.


Books providing information, advice and personal stories on the causes and effects of dementia aimed at family, friends and carers who encourter this condition.

Long term conditions

Long term conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis impact on a person’s life and require ongoing care and support. These titles help you to understand conditions and symptoms and offer practical advice and support. They also include personal stories and experiences.


Helpful books about cancer and people's experiences of living with it from Macmillan Cancer Support.


Reminiscence Boxes, Reminiscence Packs and Pictures to Share are excellent resources designed to spark conversation and memories. 

Many of these personal memories are based on work, home, festivals, leisure and family life. The boxes and packs include photos from Oxfordshire History Centre that reflect the people, places, transport, landscape and work-places that have defined local lives over the last century.

You can reserve these reminiscence resources online or in a library, decide which library you would like to collect them from and borrow them free for three weeks.

  • Reminiscence Boxes contain about 10-15 items, mainly picture books on a variety of themes which are sometimes supplemented with a DVD, music CD, postcards or facsimile artefacts that can enable people to connect with their memories.
  • Reminiscence Packs have about 2-3 items consisting of a larger picture book such as the Robert Opie Scrapbooks covering a decade of the twentieth century. Packs are in an A3 plastic portfolio case with a handle which make them very portable from library to home.
  • Pictures to Share books cover a variety of themes such as pets, travel, countryside and shopping.They are similar to other reminiscence materials with mostly pictures and a small amount of text and are ideal for family, friends and carers to use and develop a sense of togetherness with someone who is finding communication difficult.

Mood-boosting books

Books inspire laughter, tears and lots in between; they are a fantastic way to expand your imagination and forget about life’s cares.  Readers across the UK were asked to nominate their favourite uplifting and mood-enhancing books and the eclectic mix of uplifting novels, non-fiction and poetry is available through your local library.

Reading groups

As well as sharing recommendations through a list, why not be part of a reading group? They can be a good way of bringing people together, promoting wellbeing and reducing isolation. No two reading groups are the same, they cater for all sorts of people and all kinds of reading tastes. Find out more about the options available to you through your library.