Our Reading Lives

What Reading Looks Like When You’re a Full-Time Author

Adiba Jaigirdar

Staff Writer

Adiba Jaigirdar is an Irish-Bangladeshi writer, poet, and teacher. She resides in Dublin, Ireland and has an MA in postcolonial studies. She is currently working on her own postcolonial novel and hopes that someday it will see the light of day outside of her computer screen. Twitter: @adiba_j

Like a lot of authors, before I was a writer, I was a big reader. I have always been a big reader. So, I didn’t really expect that my relationship to reading would change once I became a published author. I’ve been pretty surprised to find that it has changed, and it has changed a lot. Reading looks different when you’re an author for a variety of reasons, and I’m sure it varies author to author. But here is how my reading life changed after I became a full-time author.

Reading Can Be A Chore

Is it blasphemy to say that reading can sometimes feel like a chore? It feels a little like blasphemy to admit it. But it’s true! When writing is your job, and it’s something you’re dedicating a lot of hours of every day to, stepping away from your own books to read more books can feel like such a chore. Especially when you’re reading books in genres that you write, or you’re reading books that you’re expected to write blurbs for. Sometimes, reading just becomes an extension of your work, and it can be difficult. There are days that I spend so long staring at the words I’m writing or revising in my books that the idea of looking at more words on a page at the end of that is kind of infuriating. Sadly, that’s just reality.

Reading Stops Being A Reprieve

For most of my life, reading has been a reprieve. During my free time, I loved to read. Every weekend, sitting down with a book was my idea of a good time. When I had a holiday from my work, I would find myself diving headfirst into my TBR and devouring books one after the other. Reading like this was such a joy. But when writing books is your job, your reprieve can’t also be an extension of your job. Nowadays, I often find myself moving away from books during my holidays and free time. Instead, I play more video games, I watch more TV. And when I read in my free time, I often read books in genres that I didn’t read as much of before, because that gives me a break from thinking about my own work.

Reading Is Part Of The Job

If somebody told me a few years ago that I could have a job where I was expected to read a lot, I would have jumped for joy! But the reality of having a job where you read a lot is a lot different from the fantasy of it. Because reading for your work is very different from reading for pleasure. As an author, I read a lot. I read for research as I’m writing or revising a book. I also read very widely when I have an idea for a book and I’m trying to brainstorm. Other than that, I also read books in advance in order to write blurbs. I read books for panels that I’m a part of or hosting. I beta read books for fellow authors, and also read when I’m doing a mentorship programme.

All of this leads to a whole lot of reading, on top of writing my own books (which includes rereading my own work like a bajillion times). This doesn’t leave a lot of room to read for pleasure, and it just changes the way that I interact with books now.

Reading Just Looks Different

At the end of the day, I still love books, and I still read a lot. The reading that I do just looks different. There are times when I drag through books that I absolutely have to read because I’m researching something crucial, but maybe it’s not something I would read otherwise. But overall, I have found ways to feel joyous about my reading.

I separate out books that I have to read for author things and books that I have absolutely zero obligation to read. If I have one of each going at the same time, I’m fulfilling my obligation and also reading for pleasure at the same time.

When I’m taking a break from my work, I try to read in genres that I wasn’t working on before my break. I usually write YA contemporary, so I tend to avoid reading YA contemporary on my holidays, even though I absolutely love the genre.

I also tend to read in a variety of mediums. My main form of reading used to be physical books and ebooks, but I get so tired of staring at words all day sometimes, that I read a lot of audiobooks these days. They also give my eyes a chance to rest, because I can put on an audiobook and turn off my screens for a little bit! I also find myself reading a lot more graphic novels.

Does being a full-time author change the way I read? Yes, definitely, though I can’t say it’s the same for all authors. But what hasn’t changed, and will probably never change, is my love for books and reading!

Looking for more insights on reading as an author? Check out these posts: Authors Belong On Goodreads, Too and Authors and Parasocial Relationships.