HELENSBURGH'S first book and reading festival is ready to burst on the scene - and some events are already fully booked.

The free weekend event, from March 17 to 19, is drawing attention to the benefits of reading to every aspect of your health with a variety of authors and books.

Helensburgh Community Hub, Jean's Bothy and Helensburgh and Lomond Carers Centre have teamed up to host the series of events.

"We very much hope this is the first of an annual event," said Gill Simpson, manager at the Hub.

"It's for people who don't see themselves as book people.

"Reading books helps so much - children and life chances, health and wellbeing, increasing empathy, and more.

"There will be an element of food at each event to help make people feel more comfortable. It's another way to connect.

"We really hope it's a slightly different way to encourage people to read for pleasure."

"Come along and give it a go. Who knows where it will take you?"

Gill Simpson, Helensburgh Community Hub manager

The festival starts with a session at the Hub on Robert Louis Stevenson on Friday, MArch 17, at 7.40pm.

On Saturday, there is a panel on "what's hot" with authors and book experts, including the regional manager for Waterstone's and Helensburgh-based teacher Cailean Steed with their debut novel, "Home".

Lilia Sinclair talks about "Scotland's Wild Medicine" guide at Jean's Bothy that morning. And in the afternoon, there is a session at the carers centre with Cynthia Rogerson author of "Wah! Things I Never Told My Mother".

Author Jim Crumley, who has been a Radio 4 Book of the Week and published more than 40 books, is the headline for the weekend on Saturday evening at the hub, talking about relearning the art of listening.

On Sunday, Graham Morgan talks about his new memoir, "Blackbird Singing" at Jean's Bothy.

The carers centre hosts a session from 11am to 1pm on Helensburgh's homegrown talent with a chance to browse and meeting local authors.

Then the centre will host comics writer and storyteller Paul Bristow discussing graphic novels.

And finally, the community hub will be offering from 11am to 3pm all the information you need to start a book club on the cheap.

Ann Greer, who facilitates the "Wellbeing through Writing" group at Jean's Bothy, said: "We have produced a book of our creative writing, with photos and artwork by members, on the theme of Mental Health.

"It's called 'Peace of Mind' and will be printed in time for the Reading Minds Festival.

"I've been facilitating the group for almost 9 months and, during that time, we've read diverse poets and writers plus listened to songs; both to promote our wellbeing and inspire our writing. I'm an avid reader, as are many in the group, and most are also members of the Bothy or other local Bookclubs.

"Some of us are already published writers and poets, whilst others are new to writing creatively. I'd just started gathering up our stories, poems and pieces of memoir for possible publication at a future date but the Book Festival has led to increased enthusiasm to write new pieces and get them published before it starts.

"It means a book, on the theme of mental health, written by members of the Bothy who all live in Helensburgh and Lomond, will be part of this first weekend of wellbeing through books."

Copies of the book will be on sale at the homegrown talent event on Sunday for £6 each. They will also be available to buy at Jean's Bothy after this event.

Details on all the sessions and booking information can be found by searchign "Reading Minds" on Eventbrite.