The Power of a Good Book

Posted by See Me, 19 January 2018

Tracey McKee, Subject Specialist Librarian (Mental Health/Addictions) at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde has written a blog for us on why books can be great to start conversations this Time to Talk day.

When was the last time you lost yourself in a book?

With so many competing demands for our leisure time it can be difficult to find time to read for pleasure but leisure reading can have many benefits for our health and wellbeing.

A recent report  commissioned by The Reading Agency found that besides enjoyment there seems to be some evidence that reading for pleasure is related to increasing empathy, understanding of both self and social identities, and knowledge of other cultures. It also found emerging evidence that reading for pleasure can alleviate symptoms for some chronic health conditions such as depression.

NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Library Network run The Reading Agency’s Reading Ahead challenge as a staff health and wellbeing initiative. Our participants choose six items to read in six months and record their thoughts in a reading diary which they then discuss with library staff. Last year we had over 180 people complete the challenge, many finding personal benefits along the way.

“I enjoy me time, which is what doing this has allowed. It is a time when I sit down and relax and thoroughly enjoy what I am reading.”

“I enjoyed getting back into my books again. I had developed a bad habit of being on my phone all the time and it was much more therapeutic to get involved in a book again.”

As part of our 2017 Reading Ahead challenge we also encouraged participants to do their bit to tackle mental health stigma by choosing to read, reflect upon and discuss books on a range of mental health topics.

“I think individuals talking and reading books about mental health issues raises awareness and hopefully encourages people to get support. This can help address mental health stigma and change attitudes.”

“Having had experience recently with mental health problems I found it refreshing to discover there are more people with experience like yourself out there.”

“It made aware how many different kinds of mental health issues there are and the problems people face. It makes you realize that health issues are not always seen on the outside.”

“I have found myself talking more about mental health with family and friends.”

Planning to take part in Time to Talk day on Thursday 1st February? Books are a great conversation starter; why not rediscover the joys of reading and share this with others.   

For mood boosting book ideas visit The Reading Agency’s reading lists online.


If you're in Peebles on Time to Talk day and think this sounds like a great idea, our champion Bridget is having a drop in session in Peebles library through the afternoon, where people can pop in, chat about a good book and mental health.