Reading Well | Oxfordshire County Council

Reading Well

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

A man and woman looking at a book

The Reading Well scheme aims to provide books for those experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. The books are available online and in a selection of our libraries.

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

Keeping you well

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

Long term conditions

Long term conditions impact on a person’s life and require ongoing care and support. Examples include diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.

Common symptoms associated with many of these conditions include pain, fatigue, sleep problems and low or anxious feelings.

These recommended titles are endorsed by health professionals to help readers understand these conditions or symptoms and offer practical advice support. They also tell of personal stories and experiences.

See the full range of book titles and search the library catalogue for availability.

Recommended Reading:

The following libraries will hold designated collections:

Oxford Central, Abingdon, Witney, Banbury, Didcot, Thame, Bicester, Cowley, Wantage, Henley, Kidlington and Carterton

These books are also widely available through the library catalogue for loan through the request service.

For young people

An expert-endorsed list of books (pdf format, 117Kb) has been compiled by young people for young people. You will find self-help and information titles, graphic novels, memoirs and fiction on the list which will support 12 of the main topics of concern for young people regarding mental health.

There are 12 designated collections in libraries at:

The titles are available on request from other libraries via the online catalogue.

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

Reading Well Books on Prescription

Oxfordshire Libraries is part of the national 'Reading Well Books on Prescription'  Scheme which is an approved list of books on mental health issues such as anger, anxiety, depression and stress.

You will find Books On Prescription collections at many of our larger libraries and copies of all the books and audio CDs on the list are on the library catalogue for you to request if they are not in your local library.

Cancer help and advice

Reading lists


These books are recommended by national health providers and health organisations to provide information, advice and personal stories on a health condition and are aimed at aimed at family, friends and carers who encounter this disturbing condition. Oxfordshire Libraries also list further recommended titles. 


Reminiscence boxes and packs are excellent resources to prompt shared stories, memories and interests.  Many of these personal memories are based on work, home, festivals, leisure and family life. These memories are often located here, in Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire History Centre has very kindly provided wonderful photographs from their “Picture Oxon” archives. These pictures reflect the people, places, transport, landscape and work-places that have defined Oxfordshire lives over the last century.

Anyone with a library card can reserve these reminiscence tools, collect them from one of our libraries and borrow them for free for three weeks.

Reminiscence boxes





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 artefact that can enable people to connect with their memories through different stimuli.

Boxes are portable from library to car within reasonable distance. We advise that you do not carry these boxes unless you are physically able to.









The Reminiscence box collections are:

  • Britain Through the Decades 1
  • Britain Through the Decades 2
  • Britain Through the Decades 3
  • Britain Through the Decades 4
  • Childhood 1
  • Childhood 2
  • Fashion
  • Gardens
  • Landscapes
  • Local History 1
  • Local History 2
  • London
  • Royalty and Celebrated People 1
  • Royalty and Celebrated People 2
  • Sport and Entertainment 1
  • Sport and Entertainment 2
  • Transport 1 - Rail
  • Transport 2 - Road
  • Transport 3 - Air
  • Transport 4 - General
  • Wartime
  • Work, home and school 1
  • Work, home and school 2

Reminiscence packs









Reminiscence packs contain about two to three items consisting of a larger picture book covering a decade of the twentieth century such as the Robert Opie Scrapbooks. Packs are an A3 plastic portfolio case with a handle which make them very portable from library to home.









Customers will need to reserve a Reminiscence Pack online or in a library. It will be delivered to your preferred library collection point as soon as it is available. The loan will be for three weeks initially and you will need to return it to a library.

The Reminiscence Pack collections are:

  • Britain in Pictures 1: 1960s Scrapbook / Wartime Scrapbook / 2000s
  • Britain in Pictures 2:  Royal Scrapbook / Proverbs and Sayings / 2000s
  • Britain in Pictures 3:  1950s Scrapbook / Shopping in Pictures / World of Work / Memory Cards
  • Britain in Pictures 4:   1950s Scrapbook / Proverbs and Sayings /  Memory Cards
  • Britain in Pictures 5:   Wartime Scrapbook / Royal Scrapbook / World of Work

Pictures to share

These books cover a variety of themes and are designed to spark conversation and memories. They are available in libraries and on request for a small fee.

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. These titles are all available on the library catalogue.

Pictures to Share titles by Helen Bate

  • Beside the Seaside in Pictures
  • Childhood Days in Pictures
  • The Countryside in Pictures
  • Family Life in Pictures
  • A Funny Old World in Pictures
  • In the Garden in Pictures
  • Pets in Pictures
  • Proverbs and Sayings
  • Shopping in Pictures
  • A Sporting Life in Pictures
  • Travelling in Pictures
  • A World of Work in Pictures

Support for the bereaved through suicide

Through partnership with the Wokingham branch of the charity Survivors Through Suicide, Oxfordshire Libraries stock some of their recommended titles. These can be viewed in the Health and Advice section of our reading lists.

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. Macmillan Cancer Support also have a list of recommended books for cancer patients

Reading Well Mood-boosting Books lists for

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 kinds of reading tastes. Find out more about the options available to you through your library.

Last reviewed
01 December 2017
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