Reading Well on BorrowBox with Hampshire Libraries

Reading Well helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using helpful reading.

The Reading Agency

In these strange times, many of us might find ourselves fighting those inner demons, loneliness and fears. Below are a collection of books, for children, young people and adults. Books that can support and help you through the difficult times, all of which can be found through Hampshire Libraries’ eLibrary – BorrowBox.
With you Hampshire Library card, log in to the BorrowBox app and download eBooks and eAudiobooks for free. These are just the books off the Reading Agency’s ‘Reading Well for Mental Health’ booklists, there are more available on BorrowBox. So if you don’t see a book you might like below, browse the shelves of our eLibrary here.

Not sure how to download the app? Check out our helpful videos for iOS devices here. We are currently working on an instructional video for Android devices, so watch this space!
If you prefer written instructions, you can find those here.

For Children:

Clownfish
by Alan Durant
Age range: 10+


Dak’s dad has been dead for seven days when suddenly he reappears. He’s the same in almost every way, with one startling exception: Dad has turned into a clownfish, and now lives in a tank at their local aquarium. Dak is delighted by the news – he has Dad back, even if he isn’t quite as he was before. Deciding to keep Dad’s transformation a secret, Dak visits him at the aquarium as often as he can and ends up spending so much time there that they offer him a job. This is how he comes to meet Violet, the owner’s prickly but kind-hearted niece; when the aquarium is threatened with closure, the pair must work together to save it. For Dak, the stakes couldn’t be higher… after all, if the aquarium shuts down, what will happen to the fish?

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Check Mates
by Stewart Foster
Age range: 9+

Felix is struggling at school. His ADHD makes it hard for him to concentrate and his grades are slipping. Everyone keeps telling him to try harder, but no one seems to understand just how hard he finds it. When Mum suggests Felix spends time with his grandfather, Felix can’t think of anything worse. Granddad hasn’t been the same since Grandma died. Plus, he’s always trying to teach Felix boring chess. But sometimes the best lessons come in the most unexpected of places, and Granddad soon shows Felix that there’s everything to play for.

Ella on the Outside
by Cath Howe
Age range: 8+

Ella is facing some big changes. She’s just had to start at a new school, she’s moved away from her best friend Grace, her eczema is acting up, and on top of all that, she has a huge secret to keep about her family. So, when Lydia, the most popular girl in school, wants to start hanging out, things must be on the up… right?
The only problem is, Lydia really wants to know what Ella’s hiding and she’s also desperate for intel on the quiet girl in class, Molly. So just how far will Ella go to keep her new friendship?
Ella on the Outside is a hugely relatable tale that will strike a chord with anyone who has felt the pressure to please a new friend or has struggled to fit in. Ella makes mistakes, but she’s also hugely likeable, and author Cath Howe perfectly captures her anxieties and worries.

The Worry Website
by Jacqueline Wilson
Age: 9+

Is anything worrying you?  Do you have problems?  Don’t know where to turn for help?  Log on to the Worry Website, type in your worry and wait for the good advice to flow in.

For Young People:

House of Windows

House of Windows
by Alexia Casale
Age: 14+

Nick hates it when people call him a genius. Sure, he’s going to Cambridge University aged 15, but he says that’s just because he works hard. And, secretly, he only works hard to get some kind of attention from his workaholic father.
Not that his strategy is working.
When he arrives at Cambridge, he finds the work hard and socialising even harder. Until, that is, he starts to cox for the college rowing crew and all hell breaks loose…

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
Age: 15+

The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and music – when all one requires to feel infinite is that perfect song on that perfect drive. Standing on the fringes of life Charlie has a unique perspective of the world around him, but there comes a time to stop being a wallflower and see what it looks like from the dance floor.
This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion has become a modern classic. Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating and through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens

Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens
by Sheri Van Dijk
Age: 14+

Let’s face it: life gives you plenty of reasons to get angry, sad, scared, and frustrated-and those feelings are okay. But sometimes it can feel like your emotions are taking over, spinning out of control with a mind of their own. To make matters worse, these overwhelming emotions might be interfering with school, causing trouble in your relationships, and preventing you from living a happier life.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
by Mark Haddon
Age: 13+

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

Mind Your Head

Mind Your Head
by Dr. Olivia Hewitt and Juno Dawson
Age: 13+

We all have a mind, so we all need to take care of our mental health as much as we need to take care of our physical health. And the first step is being able to talk about our mental health. Juno Dawson leads the way with this frank, factual and funny book, with added information and support from clinical psychologist Dr Olivia Hewitt. Covering topics from anxiety and depression to addiction, self-harm and personality disorders, Juno and Olivia talk clearly and supportively about a range of issues facing young people’s mental health – whether fleeting or long-term – and how to manage them. 

Freaks, Geeks, and Asperger Syndrome
by Luke Jackson
Age: 11+

Have you ever been called a freak or a geek? Have you ever felt like one? Luke Jackson is 13 years old and has Asperger Syndrome. Over the years Luke has learned to laugh at such names but there are other aspects of life which are more difficult. Adolescence and the teenage years are a minefield of emotions, transitions and decisions and when a child has Asperger Syndrome, the result is often explosive. Luke has three sisters and one brother in various stages of their adolescent and teenage years but he is acutely aware of just how different he is and how little information is available for adolescents like himself. Drawing from his own experiences and gaining information from his teenage brother and sisters, he wrote this enlightening, honest and witty book in an attempt to address difficult topics such as bullying, friendships, when and how to tell others about AS, school problems, dating, relationships and morality. 

The Self-Esteem Team's Guide to Sex, Drugs and WTFs?!!

The Self-Esteem Team’s Guide to Sex, Drugs and WTFs?!!
by Nadia Mendoza, Grace Barrett and Natasha Devon
Age: 16+

Sometimes everything sucks. This unique, illustrated guide

Sometimes being a teenager can seem like a relentless merry-go-round of people telling you how to dress and behave, who to be friends with, what grades you must get in order to avoid a destiny of failure and, most importantly, why you’re spectacularly effing it all up.

The Self-Esteem Team know this – because they were teenagers once. Obvs. In fact, they were teenagers enduring bullying, chronic skin issues, ‘puppy fat’ that refused to budge and ‘I’m different from everyone else’-related angst. Later, they battled self-harm, depression and an eating disorder.

That’s why the Self-Esteem Team started travelling the UK: to give teenagers the tools they need to navigate life on their own terms. Natasha Devon, Grace Barrett and Nadia Mendoza – now a successful journalist, singer/ songwriter and showbiz editor respectively – have worked with more than 50,000 young people helping them tackle mental health, self-esteem and body-image issues.

This book contains everything you really want to know, but are too embarrassed to ask your teachers, from ‘How do I know if I’m healthy?’ to ‘What’s it like to take drugs?’

Blame My Brain

Blame My Brain
by Nicola Morgan
Age: 15+

Contrary to popular (parental) opinion, teenagers are not the lazy, unpleasant – frankly, spotty – louts they occasionally appear to be. During the teenage years the brain is undergoing its most radical and fundamental change since the age of two.

Nicola Morgan’s carefully researched, accessible and humorous examination of the ups and downs of the teenage brain has chapters dealing with powerful emotions, the need for more sleep, the urge to take risks, the difference between genders and the reasons behind addiction or depression.

The revised edition of this classic book contains important new research, including information about the discovery of mirror neurons and their effect on the teenage brain.

The Teenage Guide to Stress

The Teenage Guide to Stress
by Nicola Morgan
Age: 13+

The book is divided into three sections: Section One explains what stress is and looks at the ways teenage stress is different. Section Two deals with a number of issues that affect teenagers – from anger, depression and sexual relationships to cyber-bullying, exams and eating disorders – and offers guidance and advice, as well as looking at how pre-existing conditions such as OCD and dyslexia are affected by adolescence. Section Three is concerned with how to deal with and prevent the symptoms of stress, as well as healthy ways of looking after your mind and body. At the back of the book is a glossary and list of useful resources.

I'll Give You the Sun

I’ll Give You the Sun
by Jandy Nelson
Age: 14+

Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

Stuff That Sucks

Stuff That Sucks
by Ben Sedley
Age: 14+

Sometimes everything sucks. This unique, illustrated guide will help you move past negative thoughts and feelings and discover what truly matters to you.
If you struggle with negative thoughts and emotions, you should know that your pain is real. No one should try to diminish it. Sometimes stuff really does suck and we have to acknowledge it. Worry, sadness, loneliness, anger, and shame are big and important, but they can also get in the way of what really matters. What if, instead of fighting your pain, you realized what really matters to you—and put those things first in life? If you did that, maybe your pain wouldn’t feel so big anymore. Isn’t it worth a try?

The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens

The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens
by Jennifer Shannon
Age: 13+

Based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), this book helps you identify your “monkey mind”—the primitive part of the brain where anxious thoughts arise. You’ll also be able to determine if you suffer from generalized anxiety, phobias, social anxiety, panic and agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or separation anxiety. Full of powerful yet simple cartoon illustrations, this book will teach you practical strategies for handling even the toughest situations that previously caused you to feel anxious or worried.

The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens

The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens
by Jennifer Shannon
Age: 14+

No more worrying about what others think about you, no more embarrassment in front of other people. You could just relax and feel comfortable and confident, the way you probably think everyone else feels.
If you struggle with shyness, you’re all too familiar with the feeling of not knowing what to do or say, and you’ll do anything to avoid feeling that way. But, most likely, you also know that you’re missing out on a lot—friendships, potential relationships, and fun. You’ve chosen this book because you’re ready to stop hiding behind your shyness and start enjoying everything life has to offer.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten
Age: 13+

Understated and heart-warming, this is a story of love and determination that shows how everyone can be a superhero in their own way. When Adam meets Robyn he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her, to play Batman to her Robin, whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love.

Face

Face
by Benjamin Zephaniah
Age: 11+

In this startling debut novel from Benjamin Zephaniah, the author tackles the moving and compelling story of a young man, Martin, whose life is completely changed when his face is badly scarred in a joyriding accident. Brilliantly written with a real ear for dialogue, this is Benjamin Zepaniah breaking new boundaries.

For Adults:

Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness

Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness
by Gillian Butler

Don’t let shyness ruin your life. Everyone feels foolish, embarrassed, judged or criticised at times, but this becomes a problem when it undermines your confidence and prevents you from doing what you want to do. At its most extreme, shyness can be crippling but it is easily treated using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Using real-life examples, Professor Gillian Butler sets out a practical, easy-to-use self-help course which will be invaluable for those suffering from all degrees of social anxiety.Indispensable for those affected by shyness and social anxiety. Excellent resource for therapists, psychologists and doctors. Contains a complete self-help program and work sheets.

Break Free from OCD
by Gillian Butler

Are you plagued by obsessive thoughts, rituals or routines? Would you like to regain control over your behaviour and cast your fears aside?Whether you are compelled to wash your hands more and more thoroughly or feel the need to keep checking that you’ve turned off appliances, obsessive worries can be a drain on daily life. However, you don’t need to suffer any more. This practical guide, written by three leading cognitive behavioural therapy experts, enables you to make sense of your symptoms, and gives a simple plan to help you conquer OCD.Includes: detailed information on the many different manifestations of OCD; the differences between normal and obsessive worries; clear information on treating your individual problem; real-life case studies and examples; and advice and support for friends and family of OCD sufferers.Whether your condition is mild or severe, this definitive resource will help you reclaim your life and keep OCD away for good.

Overcoming Anger and Irritability

Overcoming Anger and Irritability
by William Davies

500 years ago no-one died of stress: we invented this concept and now we let it rule us. We might have evolvedto be able to miraculously balance on seven-inch heels, but as far as our emotional development is concerned we’re still swimming with the pond scum. If we don’t advance our more human qualities then we’re doomed evolution-wise to become cyborgs, with an imprint of an ‘Apple’ where our hearts used to be. Ruby Wax shows us a scientific solution to these modern problems: mindfulness.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem
by Melanie Fennell

Boost your confidence and change your life for the better. Melanie Fennell’s acclaimed self-help guide will help you to understand your low self-esteem and, armed with this knowledge, break out of the vicious circle of negative self-image, learning the art of self-acceptance and altering your life for the better.

Explains the nature of low self-esteem and self-destructive thinking. Describes what keeps low self-esteem going. Explores how to identify your positive qualities and gain a more balanced view of yourself. Contains a complete self-help program and monitoring sheets. Based on clinically proven techniques of cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
by Elaine Iljon Foreman and Clair Pollard

Change can often seem like an impossible task, but this practical book will help you put it into perspective. With guidance from two experts, you’ll recognise the behaviours and thoughts that hold you back, and will develop skills to think more positively, act more calmly and feel better about yourself. Using the same tools employed by CBT practitioners, this book is full of activities and experiments to explore and challenge, stories and exercises to provide perspective, and a clear framework to encourage and guide you. The authors’ friendly and supportive approach will help you learn to manage recurrences of negative thinking and behaviours, and to develop strong coping strategies. CBT incorporates the latest therapies and research, including ACT and mindfulness, and explicitly addresses problem areas like insomnia and depression.

Overcoming Depression

Overcoming Depression
by Paul Gilbert

Depression is very common, affecting over 300 million people around the world. Written by Professor Paul Gilbert, internationally recognised for his work on depression, this highly acclaimed self-help book has been of benefit to thousands of people including sufferers, their friends and families, and those working in the medical profession. This fully revised third edition has been extensively updated and rewritten to reflect over ten years of new research on understanding and treating depression, particularly the importance of developing compassionate ways of thinking, behaving and feeling. It contains helpful case studies and new, easy-to-follow, step-by-step suggestions and exercises to help you understand your depression and lift your mood.

Reasons to Stay Alive

Reasons to Stay Alive
by Matt Haig

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

The Essential Guide to Life After Bereavement: Beyond Tomorrow ...

The Essential Guide to Life After Bereavement: Beyond Tomorrow
by Judy Carole Kauffmann and Mary Jordan

The period following the death of a loved one can be a time of great turmoil. This sensitive book acts as a helpful and supportive road map through the initial period of loss, and through the weeks and months that follow. The authors address not only the emotional and spiritual aspects of bereavement, but also important practical considerations which are often overlooked, such as the disposal of personal possessions, dealing with funerals, memorials and anniversaries and resolving family conflict. Drawing on many real examples from their work in bereavement counselling, they offer advice on coping with negative emotions, as well as unique and helpful guidance on breaking bad news to children, people with a learning disability and people with dementia. This practical book is essential reading for all those who have experienced bereavement or loss, as well as the friends, relatives and professionals involved in supporting them.

Overcoming Anxiety

Overcoming Anxiety
by Helen Kennerley

This ever-popular guide offers a self-help programme, written by one of the UK’s leading authorities on anxiety and based on CBT, for those suffering from anxiety problems. A whole range of anxieties and fears are explained, from panic attacks and phobias to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and generalised anxiety. It includes an introduction to the nature of anxiety and stress and a complete self-help programme with monitoring sheets based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Overcoming Worry and Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Overcoming Worry and Generalised Anxiety Disorder
by Kevin Meares and Mark Freeston

This is much more than the normal worrying we all do – it can be a debilitating disorder leading to significant personal and social problems and sometimes financial loss. Using established and proven CBT techniques, expert clinicians Kevin Meares and Mark Freeston help readers to understand that it is their propensity to worry, not the multitude of problems they worry about, that is the root of the problem. The user-friendly, step-by-step approach explains why they worry, how to recognise what feeds it and develop effective methods of dealing with it.

A Manual for Heartache

A Manual for Heartache
by Cathy Rentzenbrink

When Cathy Rentzenbrink was still a teenager, her happy family was torn apart by an unthinkable tragedy. In A Manual for Heartache she describes how she learnt to live with grief and loss and find joy in the world again. She explores how to cope with life at its most difficult and overwhelming and how we can emerge from suffering forever changed, but filled with hope.

This is a moving, warm and uplifting book that offers solidarity and comfort to anyone going through a painful time, whatever it might be. It’s a book that will help to soothe an aching heart and assure its readers that they’re not alone.

Grief Works

Grief Works
by Julia Samuel

Death affects us all. Yet it is still the last taboo in our society, and grief is still profoundly misunderstood…

In Grief Works we hear stories from those who have experienced great love and great loss – and survived. Stories that explain how grief unmasks our greatest fears, strips away our layers of protection and reveals our innermost selves.

Julia Samuel, a grief psychotherapist, has spent twenty-five years working with the bereaved and understanding the full repercussions of loss. This deeply affecting book is full of psychological insights on how grief, if approached correctly, can heal us. Through elegant, moving stories, we learn how we can stop feeling awkward and uncertain about death, and not shy away from talking honestly with family and friends.

This extraordinary book shows us how to live and learn from great loss.

The Boy with the Topknot

The Boy with the Topknot
by Sathnam Sanghera

“It’s 1979, I’m three years old, and like all breakfast times during my youth it begins with Mum combing my hair, a ritual for which I have to sit down on the second-hand, floral-patterned settee, and lean forward, like I’m presenting myself for execution.”
For Sathnam Sanghera, growing up in Wolverhampton in the eighties was a confusing business. On the one hand, these were the heady days of George Michael mix-tapes, Dallas on TV and, if he was lucky, the occasional Bounty Bar. On the other, there was his wardrobe of tartan smocks, his 30p-an-hour job at the local sewing factory and the ongoing challenge of how to tie the perfect top-knot.
And then there was his family, whose strange and often difficult behaviour he took for granted until, at the age of twenty-four, Sathnam made a discovery that changed everything he ever thought he knew about them. Equipped with breathtaking courage and a glorious sense of humour, he embarks on a journey into their extraordinary past – from his father’s harsh life in rural Punjab to the steps of the Wolverhampton Tourist Office – trying to make sense of a life lived among secrets.

Overcoming Mood Swings

Overcoming Mood Swings
by Jan Scott

For some individuals, however, emotional extremes can seriously disrupt their lives, either because they happen too frequently or because the mood swings are intense and are accompanied by other symptoms of depression or mania. This book is a self-help manual for those who have experienced mood swings and gives background information on depression and mania. The author uses tried and tested practical techniques that will help people identify and manage their mood more effectively, and achieve a more stable emotional state. Contains a complete self-help programme and monitoring sheets.

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled
by Ruby Wax

500 years ago no-one died of stress: we invented this concept and now we let it rule us. We might have evolvedto be able to miraculously balance on seven-inch heels, but as far as our emotional development is concerned we’re still swimming with the pond scum. If we don’t advance our more human qualities then we’re doomed evolution-wise to become cyborgs, with an imprint of an ‘Apple’ where our hearts used to be. Ruby Wax shows us a scientific solution to these modern problems: mindfulness.

I know what you’re thinking – what if I don’t want to stare at a butterfly wing or hear the single ting of a wind chime? My definition of mindfulness isn’t about sitting erect on a hillock, legs in a knot, humming a mantra that’s probably the phone book sung backwards, it’s something that can help us all: learning to notice your thoughts and feelings so you can truly experience life.

With mindfulness advice for relationships, for parents, for children and for teenagers, and a six-week course based on her studies of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy with Mark Williams at Oxford University, A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled is the only guide you need for a healthier, happier life.

For those worried about COVID-19, these titles may help put the mind at ease and explain these strange times in a simple, calm way:

Dave the Dog is worried about coronavirus

Dave the Dog is worried about coronavirus
by Molly Watts
Ages: 3+

With everything that is going on at the moment; big changes to children’s routines and lots of stories on the news it can be a really scary time for children.

This book aims to open up the conversation about coronavirus and some of the things they might be hearing about it and provide truthful information in a reassuring and child friendly manner.

Stay at home: A guide for people with Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Stay at home: A guide for people with Coronavirus (COVID-19)
by Easy-Read Online Limited
Ages: 18+

With everything that is going on at the moment; big changes to children’s routines and lots of stories on the news it can be a really scary time for children.

Coping With Coronavirus: How to Stay Calm and Protect Your Mental Health

Coping With Coronavirus: How to Stay Calm and Protect Your Mental Health
by Dr. Brendan Kelly
Ages: 18+

A guide to staying calm and protecting your mental health during the Coronavirus panic.

Once our libraries re-open, don’t forget to check out our When a Book Might Help collection; stories about various situations that can put a child’s mind at ease and make transitions and new experiences easier to cope with and more understandable.

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