Gladstone's Library, Hawarden

We wish a slightly belated Happy New year to all our readers!

While the cliché is to sign up to a gym membership, buy running shoes or go on a diet, why not add a resolution to read (more) this year?

The benefits of reading are touted by both bookworms and researchers (who have been looking into the therapeutic value of reading since the mid-1900s).

Some argue that 'sustained silent reading' can be beneficial for learning among young readers (see Garan and DeVoogd, 2011 for details) and others suggest that bibliotherapy may have its advantages (Cohen, 1993).

But perhaps the idea that reading is good for you sounds a little too wholesome. It's the literary equivalent of eating more fibre: useful but not particularly enjoyable.

Fortunately, the many visitors to Gladstone's Library make it very clear that the enjoyment aspect of reading is crucial, too.

We constantly hear that reading is, for them, an escape, a moment they have taken for themselves, both a chance to relax, to be entertained and to be absorbed.

This seems to be as true for those who pick up a bestselling novel from the Peter Francis collection in the Gladstone Room as for those who delve into deep research in the archives.

Some readers take their reading resolutions very seriously. One of the staff members at the library regularly sets herself a reading challenge on Goodreads, which tracks the books she has ploughed through each month.

It's a useful way to keep tabs on the books picked up – and sometimes abandoned – throughout the year but there is a risk this kind of monitoring can descend into a kind of self-competition, with readers striving to reach a 'personal best' of pages turned.

Our philosophy is that, like physical training, reading should be done for two reasons: because it is necessary or because it is something that gives you a deep feeling of satisfaction. The best texts manage to fulfil both of these criteria.

In any case, if your resolution is to read, whether more deeply, more widely or just for fun, you are welcome to sign up as a Reader with us. Unlike a gym membership, it's free!