Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Reading is good for you!

I have just been reading this month's edition of the excitingly entitled Library and Information Update which I recieve as part of my membership to the professional association of librarians, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) when I stumbled across a fascinating article about the increasing recognition of the health benefits of reading written by Debbie Hicks.

Research shows that reading works better than other methods (it is not clear what other methods) to reduce stress and calm anxiety. In addition there is a strong link between literacy and good health. Morever, there is evidence showing how beneficial membership of a reading group can be by combating isolation and improving self-esteem.

The point of the article was to outline a new programme organised by The reading agency to raise the profile of libraries working in this area because "health and well-being is now at the heart of public library vision". Libraries have already contributed to improving health through the books on prescription service, but this new programme is going to promote "creative bibliotherapy" which will include reading activities, particularly for older people.

This made me feel happy. Firstly that what I spend so much time doing is good for me! And secondly that libraries are going to be able to contribute to the health of the nation.

PS: Regarding bibliotherapy, I'm not sure if you have come across Justine Picardie's blog, but she does a wonderful series of "what to read when..." covering all sorts of themes such as cheering up, in memorium, when you don't want to go for a walk...; I am sure the notion that there is a book for every occasion is an important part of bibliotherapy.


  1. I am sure that there is a book for every occassion! I'll go and have a look at Justine's blog now - thank you for drawing it to my attention!

  2. Great news!

    I love Justine's blog; she has mentioned a lot of my favourite books in the past and I think I first came across her through a post on I Capture the Castle.

  3. Thank goodness for books and libraries!

    I've spent a few moments over at Justine's blog and she's made me weepy. Her post about the anniversary of her sister's death...oh blubber.

  4. That sounds like a really interesting article. I know that books definitely act as stress relief for me, and indeed today I have been cheering myself up in my sick bed by reading my newly acquired copy of 'The Affair of the Thirty-Nine Cufflinks', which was perfect cold-relief!

  5. Well if reading is good for you I might suggest that instead of one of my works contributing to my gym (which I so go to everyday hem hem) fee's they should contribute to my book addiction. I wonder what they will say?

  6. I suppose I shouldn't let the fact that it's so good for me encourage me to go out and buy more books, should I? Hmmm...

    Thank you for the link to Justine Picardie's blog. I'm a firm believer in bibliotherapy and love looking at the lists people choose.

  7. Hi everyone, I'm glad you found this post interesting and NO I am not accepting responsibility for justifying you all going out and buying more books. I do like Simon's suggestion that work should give us books instead of paying for gym membership (I get gym/swim too, but I don't use it as I'd taken out council membership just before I started this job!)
    Anyway, keep on with the reading to keep us healthy through winter and as Jackie says, I'm sure there is a book for every occasion.

  8. This post was really interesting! I definitely read as my no.1 way to relax, pure bibliotherapy!

  9. Thanks for sharing this Verity! Reading really is such a relaxer, soother and lifter of spirits. This came home to me recently when I was visiting my grandparents and they were both really upset because my grandad was too ill to go to the library for them (my nan can't walk far these days) and they were without books. It had really brought them down. So I arranged for the library door to door service to visit them and it really cheered them up - reading is such a simple pleasure, but especially for housebound elderly people, it really is very important to their general wellbeing.
    Isn't it nice to know that your job can contribute to other people's happiness?!

  10. Rachel - that library door to door service sounds like a godsend. I grew up in a very remote village and the mobile library van was ridiculously important. I can imagine being brought down without having books. In fact my worst nightmare is not having anything to read.

    I do wish that my job did more to contribute to people's happiness - putting textbooks into the hands of undergraduates is not so joyous. I wish they took the time to explore the library further and see our wonderful literature section.


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