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Blanche Richardson is the general manager of Marcus Book Stores in Oakland and San Francisco, the oldest and largest black bookstore in the country. She recommends dozens of titles every day:

"Don't stick to titles by the same author or within the same genre. Don't judge a book by its cover—or the blurbs on the back—read the flap!

"The best lighting is not too dim or too bright. Avoid fluorescent lighting or direct sunshine. I wouldn't spend a lot of money on a fancy reading light. I use a gooseneck lamp next to my bed and a floor lamp in the living room.

"Make a designated time for reading every day: Find a comfortable space, away from distractions of people and noise and daily pressures. There's evidence that reading lowers your blood pressure, and that reduces stress."