Introduction to the collection
This is a collection of wellbeing themed reading suggestions including poems, short stories, true life stories, quotes and children’s stories. These reading resources may help you to reflect on the following topics: –

  • What types of thinking and mindsets may be generally helpful to improve wellbeing?
  • What techniques have humans used to cope with hardship, a difficult start in life or challenging experiences?

Most of the items in the collection have their own literary value and can be enjoyed by anyone. The reading resources that may appeal to you are dependent on both your preferences and experiences as a unique individual and also on where you are in your personal life journey. This resource is not meant to be prescriptive or endorse any particular way of living. Instead it is offered up as a toolbox of potential ideas for wellbeing that individuals can choose to take or discard at their own discretion.  There are two ways in which to browse the reading recommendations. You can either choose an item type such as poems, short stories, etc. The other way is to select from the wellbeing-themed tags provided. Both item types and tags are listed in the menus.

More suggestions as to relevant stories and poems will continue to be added to this collection. 

Some people have mentioned to me that they find it useful to keep a notebook nearby to jot down any particularly useful thoughts and ideas gained while reading.

Why read for wellbeing?

Reading can have several benefits including the potential to inspire hope and can help with transitions from one mind state to another, including seeing the world from a different perspective. Reading can help to improve literacy skills and can be an inexpensive and enjoyable leisure activity that enables readers to travel to new and undiscovered places and develop better self awareness through reflection. It is an activity amenable to being shared and discussed such as among friends or in reading groups, increasing positive social connections. It is also a flexible activity that can fit in around periods of limited time or concentration. (Some shorter reading suggestions have also been included with this in mind)

Reading group facilitators – extra resources
I am currently developing a toolkit for those who would like to run “read aloud in the session” reading groups, but who do not have the time to find suitable stories and poems or think of discussion questions. I plan to offer 12 session plans to run a wellbeing themed short story and poetry group, which would make running these sessions as easy as possible. I have previously tested out these sessions myself and I am currently evaluating the impact of them on the wellbeing of participants. When this study is complete, I will be happy to share the results and my session plans with prospective reading group facilitators who may want to run something similar, whether you are a healthcare worker based in a hospital or an enthusiastic volunteer who wants to make a difference in the wider community. 

Examples of evaluation comments received so far
“I was pleasantly surprised at how much came out of the story and poem we read, as a result of reading and discussing together. I would not have got anything like so much meaning out of them by reading alone.”
Reading Group Participant

“Both story and poem very thought provoking, which was good and really launched us into meaningful discussions. The whole session was very well constructed and sensitive to people’s views and needs.”
Reading Group Participant

“These types of sessions are ideal to someone like me who is mostly stuck indoors in isolation from the outside world.”
Reading group participant

“Good – think I’ve got my wife interested in reading again. Thank you.”

“The idea and concept is fantastic as it provides the opportunity to read about how and what others have experienced, not just text book analysis and non personal info.”
Someone with experience of a mental health condition

If you have used this resource and found it helpful, please email to let us know: 

The importance of public libraries
I could not have built up this collection without access to all the books I borrowed from Birmingham Libraries (UK). Please make use of and show your support to your local public library as it supports projects like this one.

Disclaimer and copyright
This resource should not be used instead of proper care from a health professional. The creators of this blog do not accept responsibility for any adverse emotions that may occur as a result of reading any of the suggested resources. The Samaritans telephone helpline is available as a 24 hour service for anyone experiencing emotional distress and details can be found on their website.

Authored by Anita Phul,
Knowledge, Information and Library Services,
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.
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