From Instagrammer to book buyer – how one woman turned a passion into a career

What started as a lockdown Instagram project has become the dream job of Nelson’s wife Dana Light, 24, a book specialist at Paper Plus Nelson.

It’s fair to describe Light as the most avid reader. Last year, she set a goal of reading 125 books, which she said she achieved. This year, she hopes to read the same number of volumes.

“I don’t have any other hobbies,” she said, adding a little help with self-discipline.

“I definitely found myself scrolling through things and thinking, ‘I have a book to read, I really need to jot it down’.”

She listens to about 10% of these books in audio form on the go, in addition to the physical copy.

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Light works full-time as a book buyer for Paper Plus, and although she doesn’t read at work, she likes to form her own opinion on new titles.

His Instagram account, @dlight_reads, was a pet project during a lockdown in Auckland 2020.

“I created the page…thinking ‘I have free time, I like books, I’m going to take pictures of books and share my opinions about them’, opinions I didn’t really think about that people would be interested in being honest.”

But it turned out people did, and she was contacted directly by publishers to write reviews for upcoming titles.

When she saw the Book Specialist position advertised in Nelson, she “jumped in.”

In her role, she chooses the books that arrive in stores and meets publishers, booksellers and authors.

“I feel very lucky. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time, and then I found this… I’ve never felt so suited to my job,” she said.


Ōtaki-based playwright Renée has many feathers in her cap, having written numerous plays and nine fictional novels. (Audio first aired November 2021).

Setting up her Instagram page gave her more confidence to apply, she said.

“Being able to recommend books to a variety of people online made me think, ‘why can’t I do this in person at a store?’ I had learned a lot about the books and I took advantage of it for my interview.

She said she was also able to follow many trending books on social media to add to the store.

Sometimes she has to make tough choices – for example about books with differing opinions on Covid-19.

“It’s very hard to decide, do I want this in the store? Is it something people will want to read? Or will it bring more negativity into the world?

It turns out Nelsonians have a penchant for historical fiction, and the city has plenty of young, literate people.

Social media like the TikTok Booktok sub-community were getting people to read these days, she said, noting that younger audiences entering the store had seen books posted online.

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In the age of Facebook, TV streaming, apps, and notifications, she has some advice for those of us who struggle to find time to read a single volume.

First, she tries to read at least an hour a day and aims to read 20% of a book in her first sitting to become “addicted enough to keep going.”

Finding a book you like is key, she said, and then it was “a lot easier to keep going.”

She loves to read on the beach and on a nice couch with lots of pillows and a blanket on a miserable day.

If you noticed Nelson’s opshops were well stocked with books, you can probably thank Dana.

Now and then she’ll do a picking, spilling literary delights all over Nelson’s free libraries and charity shops.

Favorite genres are thrillers and romances. As for New Zealand authors, Deborah Challinor’s new book The Leonard girls was a recent read that she found “incredible”.

As Omicron does the trick, reading makes for a perfect quarantine activity.

“With the uncertainty in New Zealand and around the world at the moment, you don’t know if you’re going to self-isolate next week. It’s always good to have something to do at home,” she said. .

“I made reservations just in case.”

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