Kenwyne Jones scored his first goal for Sunderland as they paid a special tribute to Ian Porterfield with a win.
Jones, who had an oustanding home debut, smashed a left-foot shot past Marcus Hehnemann to give Roy Keane's side a deserved first-half lead. It ended a goal drought that lasted 389 minutes.
And when Ross Wallace put the Black Cats 2-0 ahead just after the break, they looked to be cruising.
But Dave Kitson's late goal ensured a nervy finish for the home side who hung on to secure a big win, ending a four-game losing streak.
The Black Cats were watched by 10 of the members of Sunderland's heroic 1973 FA Cup winning team as the Stadium of Light remembered Porterfield who died this week.
Porterfield would have been proud of this performance as Keane's men forgot about their recent troubles to produce a good display.
Jones, a constant menace to the Reading defence, scored one and made the second for Wallace, and Sunderland's fans got their first sight of his elaborate back-flip goal celebration.
In fact the £6m Trinidad and Tobago striker should have had two goals to his name - he put a header just over in the 41st minute after good wing play by Wallace.
Wallace, always a livewire, was booked for taking off his shirt as he celebted putting the Black Cats 2-0 ahead.
The Scot nearly made amends shortly after, striking a right-foot shot that would have gone in had Graeme Murty, the Reading captain, not made a great block.
Kitson headed in Reading's goal five minutes before the end, from Nicky Shorey's free-kick.
And Sunderland had to hang on at the end - much like that famous '73 team against Leeds. They did to notch a much-needed win.
The victory moved Sunderland to 14th in the Barclays Premier League, putting them on the same points as Middlesbrough who they play next weekend.