Mental Health

My Story: Joining a Reading Community Changed My Life

It’s not just about books; it's about the profound impact of shared stories and shared experiences.

By URLife Team
19 May 2024

It started when I stumbled upon an instagram post of a book reading community. It intrigued me, it was something I always wanted to do. I loved the idea of reading and talking about books with other readers but as a working woman who already had too much on her plate, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make time for this. None the less I decided to give it a try anyway, and I am glad I did. It’s been life-changing.

Joining Juhu Reads, Mumbai, book community has brought an unexpected sense of fulfilment into my life. It's as if the universe aligned perfectly to introduce me to something I've always longed for. While initially, I worried about balancing it with my already busy schedule, taking that leap of faith has proven to be incredibly rewarding. 

With my husband's job requiring him to commute to his office and mine allowing for remote work, at times life became too monotonous for me as I struggled to find in-person social connections. This physical meeting for the book reading couldn't have been more perfect. 

Every Sunday, from 5 to 7 pm, we gather at Kaifi Azmi Park in Juhu, Mumbai, each with our chosen book in hand. The serene atmosphere allows us to immerse ourselves in reading for two uninterrupted hours, followed by a brief session where we share book recommendations. 


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More often than not, these sessions extend into heartfelt conversations over coffee at our favourite cafes. (Prithvi’s Cafe—If I have to choose one). We not just discuss books but also life itself. This community has become more than just a club—it's become a source of deep satisfaction and connection in my life.

There is a quote by Harvey McKay, author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, that says, “Our lives change in two ways: through the people we meet and the books we read.” This rings true for me in so many ways. There is no comparison to the human connection and the impact that humans have on our lives. Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned were from people I’ve met in this book club. No matter what genres you love reading, there would be someone or the other to relate with. 

Also, you might be wondering why Sundays? Monday mornings are the one thing that most of us in the world dread. The book club meets on Sunday evenings, which is only twelve hours before I have to report to work on Mondays. I kid you not, every cell in my body is charged after a particularly nice meet. I have noticed the difference between my productivity levels on Mondays after book club meets and the Sunday evenings when I was whiling away my time. 


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Joining the book club has provided me with a sense of community that often helps me unwind and relax, leading to improved sleep quality. Moreover, being part of such a community encourages me to contribute more to the world by sharing knowledge, perspectives, and insights gained from the books we read. It has also made me less passive in life, as the discussions inspire me to take action, explore new ideas, and seek personal growth.

Everyone comes with different perspectives, backgrounds, viewpoints, and beliefs. Being a part of the book community taught me how to respect others' opinions while also broadening my own understanding. Through discussions and interactions, I've encountered a diverse array of interpretations and viewpoints on various books. This exposure has deepened my appreciation for the rich tapestry of themes, issues, and cultures represented in literature. For example, during book club discussions, we delve into societal issues, historical contexts, and philosophical concepts explored in the books we read. This process has not only expanded my knowledge but also fostered empathy and understanding towards differing viewpoints.

Apart from boosting my critical thinking, analytical skills, concentration, and memory, it is an amazing stress reliever for me. It allows me to escape, at least for a short while, from all my everyday worries.

Analysing literature and engaging in discussions with fellow community members have done wonders to my critical thinking. I’ve been more efficient in learning to evaluate arguments, identify biases, and approach complex topics with a discerning eye, skills that are valuable in all areas of life. Discussions with well-versed individuals has helped in cultivating a deeper understanding of the world around me.

Also, belonging to a book community provides a sense of camaraderie and support that extends beyond the pages of a book. Whether you're celebrating literary milestones, offering encouragement during reading challenges, or simply sharing book recommendations, you're part of a community that shares your passion for reading and values your contributions. This sense of community fosters a feeling of connection and belonging that had a positive impact on my overall well-being.


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Joining this community has also enhanced my resilience and adaptability. Overcoming challenges such as reading slumps or navigating disagreements in discussions cultivates resilience and adaptability. I’ve learned to persevere in the face of setbacks and adapt to changing circumstances effortlessly.

The book meet-up is kept outdoors for a very special reason. It helps individuals spend time in nature as we meet in the park. It has provided a refreshing change of scenery, allowing me to break free from the cycle of monotony and rejuvenate my mind amidst the beauty of the outdoors.

And the last and equally important reason: book recommendations! We are the sort of book club where everyone brings a book they’ve read recently, instead of reading one particular book. On an average, there are fifteen people attending the book club. Imagine the number of books I get to know about every other Sunday! Thanks to this bunch of book-loving people, I am now reading my first Jhumpa Lahiri book and will (hopefully) read ‘The diary of a CEO’.


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