What is the NNLM Reading Club?

From November 2018 through April 2021, a team of consumer health librarians selected books to align with the priority health topics of its sponsoring agency, the NNLM All of Us Community Engagement Network, which was funded by a partnership between the National Library of Medicine and the NIH All of Us Research Program. The NNLM Reading Club originally was promoted to public libraries as a popular and familiar "ready-to-use" health literacy program. It was a success. From a total collection of 21 featured health topics and 78 book titles, more than 6,300 readers nationwide discussed health and wellness. After a brief hiatus, the NNLM Reading Club resumed in 2022 with new health topics and titles.

Why use the NNLM Reading Club?

Reading is healthy! Different studies report that it improves memory, enhances empathy, and reduces stress. Reading also is a fundamental way to acquire knowledge, so it stands to reason that reading different health topics can help people make informed decisions about their own health and the health of their loved ones while reducing the stigma surrounding some diseases and health conditions.

Through the enjoyment and intimacy of a book club, readers can discuss health and wellness topics important to them and their loved ones as well as discover evidence-based consumer health resources from the NIH National Library of Medicine.

  • Discover books with a health topic
  • Download discussion guides and promotional materials
  • Find health information and program ideas

How are topics and books selected?

Selected books align with the priority health topics of its sponsoring agencies, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). To capture different health information needs for various interests and reading levels, fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, graphic medicine, and young adult titles are considered based upon the following criteria:

  • Author or book is award-winning or a national bestseller
  • Book reviews or reader ratings are consistent and positive
  • Diverse and authentic author voices are represented
  • Titles are published or reprinted within the current five years; exceptions are classics
  • Publications are available in another format such as an audio, e-book, or large print
  • Reading guides or book discussions are made freely available

Want more?

The NNLM Reading Club Toolkit [PDF] tells the history and evolution of the NNLM Reading Club explaining how and and why it came into existence. You’ll also find our selection criteria and how it relates to our sponsoring agency's goals. Additionally, Health Book Club Tips are included for facilitating health book club discussions in different types of library and organizational settings and guidelines for creating a safe space for health book club discussions and for responding to health information questions.