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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 two collections of useful titles under the Read Yourself Well banner and we have a set of information and resources for healthcare professionals.

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 comprises two collections, selected by Surrey Libraries. Both collections compliment the national Reading Well Schemes and have many titles in common. Read Yourself Well looks at physical as well as mental health, encouraging self-awareness and understanding of health issues. The collections are divided into 'Self Help' and 'Memoirs and Fiction', both are available to download at the bottom of this page or you can browse via the links below:

Self Help

Memoirs and fiction


Information and resources for healthcare professionals

If you would like to introduce Books on Prescription to your treatment protocols, the Prescriber Handbook provides a detailed introduction on how to use the scheme. To decide which title(s) to prescribe, you may wish to consult the relevant overview guide to titles: for common mental health problems, or for dementia. These are all available to download at the foot of the page.

Finally, you are welcome to use printed copies of the relevant prescription forms, which we can send on request, or simply use the digital versions also available below.

Files available to download

  • Reading Well for Long Term Health Conditions - BOOK LIST (1.2 MB)
    Overview of the books included in the long term conditions reading list created as part of the national Reading Well campaign to help people with long term conditions and those caring for them.
  • Read Yourself Well - self help (1012.5 KB)
    Read Yourself Well is a collection of self-help books, complied by Surrey libraries, which can help us to deal with these health problems. The titles chosen have been recommended by health professionals and re designed to give practical information and advice.
  • Prescriber Handbook (430.8 KB)
    A list of self-help reading, compiled as part of the national Reading Well campaign, for adults based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for a range of common mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, phobias and some eating disorders.
  • Title guide - Dementia (988.8 KB)
    Reading Well Books on Prescription: Guide to the books included in the campaign to help people dealing with dementia or helping those with dementia..
  • Patient information leaflet and prescription - Dementia (324.3 KB)
    A list of books which provide helpful information and step-by-step self-help techniques for managing dementia.
  • Reading Well for mental health: overview of the titles (1.1 MB)
    A list of books providing information and support for managing common mental health conditions.

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