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Reading well

Surrey County Council libraries offer four schemes under the national umbrella of Reading Well, which aim to help you understand and manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading.

  • The original scheme, Books on Prescription, was relaunched in June 2018 as Reading Well for mental health. The books provide information and support for managing common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression; dealing with difficult feelings and experiences, such as anger or bereavement and personal stories of people with experience of the conditions covered.
  • The second, Books on Prescription: Dementia, provides information and advice about dementia and normal aging. It contains books to support living well after diagnosis, practical advice for carers, personal accounts, and suggestions for shared therapeutic activities. The books are available online and in a selection of our libraries.
  • A third scheme, Shelf Help, is aimed at young people and those
    looking to support their mental health. As with the first Books on Prescription scheme, Shelf Help looks at common mental health problems. As well as providing the best advice, Shelf Help includes fiction titles, memoirs and graphic novels as an aid to exploring these topics. Explore the Shelf Help reading lists
  • Launched in 2017, Reading Well for long term conditions focuses on living well with a range of common long-term health conditions. The list includes books about diabetes, arthritis, breathing difficulties, heart disease, angina, irritable bowel syndrome and stroke. It has been designed for those living with a long-term condition as well as families and carers. It includes titles about sleeping difficulties and pain management as well as personal stories.

Surrey Libraries have also created their own collection of useful memoirs and fiction titles under the Read Yourself Well banner.

Self Help books can be very effective when read on their own, or when used with prescribed medication, counselling or therapy. These have been recommended by GPs and other health professionals and are designed to give practical information and advice.

All titles encourage self-awareness and understanding of these health issues and by helping you to develop strategies for coping, will improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Books on the following subjects are stocked in all our large and medium sized libraries and are available to request via our catalogue in all others. Click on the links below to view the availability and location of the titles by category. Leaflets are available to download at the bottom of the page.

Reading Well survey

If you've read any of the titles for long term conditions, young people, or dementia, Reading Well would love you to complete a survey. They offer the incentive of a twice yearly prize draw for a £50 high-street shopping voucher.


Books on Prescription: Dementia

Shelf Help – Reading Well for young people

Reading Well for long term conditions

Want to know more?

Reading Well is a national scheme delivered in conjunction with the Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians, with funding from the Arts Council. There is strong evidence that self-help reading works for people with common mental health conditions. The new dementia element builds on this evidence and the existing support mechanisms in place in libraries, such as our Reminiscence Collection, to address a mounting need in the community for cost effective support.

Mood-boosting books

Reading Well Mood-boosting Books is The Reading Agency's national promotion of uplifting titles, including novels, poetry and non-fiction. The books are all recommended by readers and reading groups.

The new Mood-boosting list has something for everyone.

Read Yourself Well

Read Yourself Well is Surrey Libraries' own collection of memoirs and fiction which help to support mental health:

Files available to download

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