How I read 120 books last year

At our last book club meeting of the year, I mentioned that I’d probably reach about 120 books and the question came:

How on earth do you manage to read so many books?

It’s not rocket science but I thought I’d put it here just to remind myself too.

I set a goal (of 72) for the year

I’m a big goal setter and I honestly believe that without goals life is a lot less exciting 🙂

My reading goal means I need to read 6 books a month, that’s one every week but another two built in somewhere else. Just knowing that I have to get through a book a week means that I have a focus.

Have a good list of books to read

I admit, I took this one too far. At one point I had about 40-odd fiction and 20-odd non-fiction waiting for me.

But… you read a lot when you have a lot to read. If you have only 3 books you want to read, you’re going to drag out those 3 books.

It’s Pareto Principle in action – work expands to fill the time available for it.

I actually proved this in December – I could have read more than 8 but I knew I only needed to get to 8, so I slowed down when I got to 6 books for the month, and spaced out those last 2.

Use Audible or Overdrive for audio books

If you haven’t yet listened to an audible book, leave a note in the comments and I’ll send you my favourite one of all time 🙂

I easily get through one audible book a month, some months two. Truth be told I could get through about 4 audible books if I didn’t listen to as many podcasts as I do. One of my goals is to listen to just one more audible book every month.

For those that say they have a short commute, I have a 6-minute commute to my gym and my dance class, and I use those short distances to listen to essay-type books like Present over Perfect.

Use the library

You are much more likely to try books if there’s a low risk involved, in other words, you don’t have to pay for them. There are some books I dithered over, but when I saw they were available at the library, I had no hesitation in trying them. Granted, I did try books that weren’t for me, but I also found about 3 new-to-me authors, all at the library.

I use my physical library (I’ve been going to this one for 16 years; the librarians knew me waddling in while pregnant, and now they know my kids too) and last year I discovered Overdrive. Overdrive alone helped me read 23 of my 120 books. 

Use all those 5 and 10-minute blocks of time

If D and the kids are upstairs doing bedtime reading and I’m cleaning the kitchen/ packing my lunch, I listen to a book.

If I’m waiting in a queue or at the dentist, I pull out my phone, and read on the Kindle app. Non-fiction works best for these tiny blocks of time for me.

You know that if we all stopped scrolling Facebook or Instagram, we’d instantly be reading a book a week. Just saying.

Read books you really, really want to read

I abandoned 5 books in 2017. This is huge for me 🙂

However, you can read a book you really want to read in half the time of struggling to read something. This is different from books that are a hard read because they’re challenging your thinking (which is good for you!) vs books that are awful that you’re forcing yourself to read.

Also, in this same vein, don’t feel bad about the type of books you read. Granted, romance is not my thing, but if you want to read romance novels and nothing else, you go ahead 🙂

If you’re an Upholder, put “read” on your daily and weekly to-do lists

I started reading dramatically more books when I started adding a simple item – read a book – to my weekend to-do list. It became a fun task for me and was easy to then sit down and relax in the middle of the day, even while there was work to be done.

Surround yourself with readers

I haven’t ever had a problem reading a lot but I know for a lot of the ladies in the book club, just all of us talking about books and our Whatsapp group has pushed/ prodded/ encouraged all of them to read more.

Listen to readerly podcasts like What Should I read Next? and sign up to Modern Mrs Darcy’s blog where they discuss bookish things – it’s sure to keep your reading list full.

Bonus – I asked my husband if he had any tips for my readers and he rattled off 5 tips so quickly before the kids interrupted us that I think I need to do another blog post, just with his tips 🙂

(he is also an upholder but he leans to obliger so it may be more interesting to some of you :))

Now, did you reach your reading goal for 2017?

What did you do that made it happen?

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  1. Marcia – its impressive, that’s all I can say =) That’s some serious reading. I am a huge fan of reading, always have been, since I was as young as your kids. However, something happened after losing my Dad and maybe a part of grief, I don’t know but I quit reading (end of 2012). 2014 was the year to begin reading again and it felt good. Last year I want to say I read approximately 35 which for me is outstanding. I still need to sit down and make the time to go over it. I really do think it helps doing what you do to not only encourage yourself to read but encourage others.

    • Marcia Francois says

      Susan, I think any reading is good! It happens to be my favourite hobby so that’s where I spend a lot of my time 🙂

      Are we friends on Goodreads? They have a reading challenge every year so you can easily track your books although… I’m going old school with book tracking this year – in a real live notebook with a pen!

  2. Terisha says

    Very eager to hear Dion’s tips. I am over-indulging in books for January as from Feb I need to start preparing for exams, assignments etc. So reading up a storm while I can. Plus I bought over 20 books from the beginning of December to date and that’s without the book order from Takealot that is still due to arrive. So I can totally vouch for your point above that you read more when you have a good list of books to read.

    • Marcia Francois says

      It’s the best kind of overindulging, isn’t it? 🙂 I’ve started making a category in my kindle of books to read for the next month. I’m already excited for Feb!

  3. MamaCat says

    I love to read and do so constantly. I did not track any reading last year, but I finally started doing audiobooks. So like you, I read a combination, paper, digital and audio. I actually need no further encouragement to read, as I think, my reading borders on the point of anti-social sometimes.

    • Marcia Francois says

      HA! Anti-social readers unite 🙂 One thing I’m doing this year is to read better books and to abandon the bad ones faster!

  4. AMAZING!!! I read 50 a year and prob COULD double that if I took away FB and Twitter.

    • Marcia Francois says

      Agreed! I think we could all add a couple of more books per month if we weren’t on social media (it’s Instagram for me!)


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