How Recommending a Good Read Can Be a Prescription for Health

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Where do you get your recommendations for wonderful, informative, enthralling books to read? I think book suggestions are everywhere. They appear in magazines and newspapers, on TV, in schools and houses of worship. And of course, recommendations often come from individuals and groups we trust.

Friends’ recommendations are usually the most powerful, if not the most common. If our buddies or neighbors mention what they are reading and enjoying, we might ask to borrow the book or jot down its title so we can get it. Friends’ book suggestions also often spawn lively conversations and can lead to discovering things about each other that we never knew before. 

Family members often just show up with a book in hand that is a favorite of theirs or that made them think of us. The source of their enthusiasm is most usually spawned by family love and a desire for nurturing connection.

Librarians are the kings and queens of book recommendations. Knowing us less well, they are likely to recommend surprising topics and authors that can expand our tastes and interests.

Teachers recommend books because that is part of their job. Often they have chosen their career based upon the education they have gained from inspirational books and researchers, and they would be remiss to not pass along the best evidence of the love they have for their subjects.

Free Online book services and educational programming often feature new books or enduring favorites. These are valuable resources for those new to literacy[i], as well as those with years of life experience and vast personal histories of self-education[ii].

No matter where book recommendations come from, if we live in bookless homes–or book deserts[iii]–book ideas may pass before our eyes and bounce off our ears, easily fading into the background of our minds. On the flip side, if homes have books in them and if families engage in reading, book recommendations are valuable suggestions that can lead to or enhance the development of a culture of literacy–and wellness. Book recommendations become recommendations for fun and enjoyment, and as a result families and communities become healthier. Stick with me here.

I know the ability to read may seem like an obscure cornerstone of a healthy family or community, but the evidence is clear: higher literacy rates correlate with higher employment, a better-educated workforce, lower crime, less poverty and more civic engagement. Communities of lifelong readers collectively enjoy a higher, healthier quality of life.

Sounds like just what the doctor ordered!


[i] Children or those new to reading can enjoy free online libraries, like Unite Books.

[ii] Many people love to search for answers and adventure in places like Wikipedia.

[iii] Scroll your mouse to use the zoom feature to find your own neighborhood or town (in the USA) and see the density of book availability where you live.

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