Mindfulness Diaries: getting into reading


Nidhi Thomas

In this weekly column, guest contributer Nidhi Thomas writes about bringing mindfulness into everyday life.

Nidhi Thomas, Guest Contributor

Books have had a big impact on my life. When I was a little kid, I was very shy and wasn’t the best at making conversation, so one of the things I’d really look forward to about going to school was getting to read; it was all I wanted to do. And, it was great; books gave me perspective- they taught me about the world. However, that feeling of wanting to go to school just to read didn’t last forever. As I grew up and made friends, school became more than just one big book shelf to pick from. That’s why, at some point, I lost interest in reading. 

Throughout middle school, I barely picked up a book. I used to be obsessed with reading, and everyone noticed when I stopped- they were all concerned. But I never really put much thought into the fact that I had done so, it just felt natural- reading just wasn’t the same anymore, that was all. I would look back on my embarrassing Harry Potter phase and wonder ‘how in the world did I find good old paper and ink so fascinating?’ I felt that way for a long time, until recently.

Freshman year of high school to be specific. This year, something awakened inside of me and the desire to read came back. I still remember the moment I first felt that feeling. I was sitting in the car with my mom and two of my good friends- we were on the way to a birthday party- when my friends started talking about a book they had both read. They were saying something about the characters and the plot, and that just did it for me. I asked them what the book was, and the next day, I looked it up and binge-read it in one shot. 

After reading that book, I felt as if I was book deprived. I wanted to find more books like it, so I started making a TBR or ‘to be read’ list. In it, I put all the books I wanted to read in the near future. I thought I would like all the books I read, and that I would love reading again, but weirdly enough, that wasn’t the case. 

Some of the books were too long, some of them had topics that didn’t interest me. Some books had characters I couldn’t really identify with. I realized that now that I was older- no longer the five year old who thought the magic treehouse series was the best one on earth- I had higher standards for what books I wanted to read. This was difficult, because I wanted to read just as badly, but not all books were my cup of tea. So, I wondered, how can I get back into reading when I’m such a picky reader? 

Of course, I downloaded all the reading apps possible. Likewise, Goodreads, you name it. However, none of them quite worked. It was then that I realized that I was doing the wrong thing. If I wanted to get book recommendations based on what I read before, I needed to be specific about what I wanted to read about. I couldn’t just say, ‘I like high fantasy, give me a high fantasy book recommendation.’ No, I needed to pick a slightly more specific element of the book that I truly liked.

 For example, I read this book called Kaikeyi, which was a fantasy book inspired by Indian mythology. The book’s main theme was feminism, and I really enjoyed that. So, when I looked for books similar to it, I didn’t just search up something like ‘fantasy, mythology book,’ I instead searched for books with the theme of feminism. That’s how I found this other book, She Who Became the Sun. It was very different from Kaikeyi, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, because it had that element I really liked. For every book I read, I would repeat the process I did with Kaikeyi and She Who Became the Sun. Find an element of the book I liked, and search for another book that had that element. 

This is something I recommend to anyone who wants to get back into reading or just make a habit of reading in general. Don’t read a book every 10 years just because you’re not regularly finding good reading material by chance. If you make a small effort, great books will come your way.