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?

My no-spend-on-books month

I’ve done a no-spend month once before, years and years ago, when I joined Beth for her no-spend month.

That was a really great experience because it broke my Exclusive Books habit of spending hundreds of rands on books every month .

This time, I had an idea that my book-buying habit was getting a bit out of control because I was buying a title from Modern Mrs Darcy‘s list almost daily.

Even $2 – $5 Kindle deals add up… and fast.

Amazon also sends those almost-daily emails with their recommendations based on the titles you’ve viewed.

One day I looked and I had 31 unread titles on my Kindle – real books, not samples. And I’ve been reading on average 10 books a month.

I then decided this book-buying thing was getting out of hand and I decided March would be a no-spend month on books.

What did I do differently?

I unsubscribed from MMD’s list. It’s the same way I don’t ever take a catalogue or brochure from a store – if I don’t see it, I don’t want it. I will subscribe again when I feel more caught up with my current reading and I have told my book club to let me know if Small Great Things goes on sale 🙂

How did I do?

I’ve been waiting for Alec Baldwin’s memoir, Nevertheless, for over 6 months so the minute that became available on Audible, I pre-ordered it with a credit I had.

I somehow forgot about my no-spend March when I went to shop for the 2017 Library project and I picked up some books. It honestly didn’t even occur to me that I was buying books because in my head I had DIGITAL books as my goal. Aside from the 4 books for the library, I bought 1 for a friend and about 5 for me (!).

So I was successful with Kindle and Audible purchases; not with physical books 🙂

What now?

I’m back on the no-spend wagon. We have a mini-break coming up and I wanted some books for lazing at the pool so I bought some books on Amazon last week. Coming to an instagram feed near you 🙂

I do think I’m set for at least another 3 months so let’s see if I can keep up the no-spending challenge for books for at least another 2 months.

How about you?

Have you ever declared a no-spend challenge on buying books? Or make-up? Or clothes?

Speaking of which, I haven’t bought a watch since December 2012 and I now have only 3 working watches left. I’m going to treat myself for my birthday though (4 months away) or sooner if I see something I really want.

I want to tell you 7 things about reading

Reading is one of my favourite things to do or talk about. When you couple this with my passion, time management, I especially love it when people tell me they don’t have time to read, or enough time to read, and so on.

So not true, guys. I’m not buying it 🙂

You see, I think we all underestimate the amount of time we waste, and more importantly, how much time we have that we fritter away. Someone I follow, Laura Vanderkam, decided to stop scrolling the internet and read instead. She read 14 books in a month. She found 1.5 hours a day and more on the weekend, totalling 13.5 hours a week, without working or parenting less.

Why you and I are not reading more books

How I find time for reading

Another way to find time for reading – this one is probably unpopular

Then, the new thing is people tell me things like they don’t think audio books will work for them without even trying. I know audio is not for everyone.

Like how video is not for me. But I have watched a few Youtube videos, vlogs and such, tried it first and now I can give you reasons why (slow download speed/ impatience/ I like to be doing something and with video I have to actually sit there and watch, for example :))

Back to audio books.

If you have a short commute, remember all those 15 minutes add up. If you have a 15-minute commute, you can easily finish one audio book a month. That’s 600 minutes a month just to and from work.

However, there is also cooking time, cleaning time, editing photo time, scrapbooking time, walking time, gardening time.

I would love you to tell me you listened to a book and then decided it’s not for you. But please try! You can easily add 1 – 2 books to your “read list” every month in this super-simple way.

You may like this post on how I use audio to work for me. One major trick is to find a narrator you like.

Here’s where I shared my love for the Kindle at the 3-year mark. I just passed the 6-year mark two days ago!

When it’s worth it to buy a book

Bonus – free books with Overdrive

How do you prefer to read your books?

Have you tried an audio book yet?

What’s making me happier? Organising my Kindle

I was sorting out my Kindle the other day and realised this might make me a bit weird but it’s a weirdness that makes me very happy.

I have folders to organise my downloaded Kindle books.


I have the obvious ones like Books read, and then the unread books go into either Fiction or Non-Fiction so depending what I’m in the mood for, I go directly to that section to find a book.

I also have a folder for Children’s books.

I leave sample books out of folders so that they’ll “bother” me and I’ll read them quickly 🙂

It makes me super happy when I finish a book and I can happily file it away in its folder.


If only Audible let me create folders, I’d have a very happy time organising my audio books too 🙂

And now, I wish you 30 very happy minutes organising your Kindle. Take a screenshot and tag me @OrganisingQueen so I can come do the happy dance with you.

Do you have a Kindle?

Do you use folders? What are some of your folders called?

When is it worth it to buy a book?

How I read books |

I read quite a lot – a little in excess of 5 books a month. I could read more but we’ve already spoken about how we’re all not reading enough.

Still, when I talk about my reading to people, I get a lot of questions about buying books, Kindle vs paper, library vs owning them, and so I thought I’d put together my thought process in the hope that it might help someone.

(let me know if that someone is you – it’s nice when you know your efforts landed somewhere!)

   How I read books |www.OrganisingQueen.comFiction

I read far too much fiction (and far too quickly) to buy each and every book I read. The fiction I read comes from four places:

  1. the library – I have always loved the library. Always.
  2. Kindle deals (Amazon is amazing at telling me when books I’ve looked at go on sale 😉 so I can decide if I want to wait for the price to drop some more, or if I want to get the book there and then). I do like to have about 3 – 4 books on my Kindle when I go on holiday so I wait patiently til then to read all the Kindle novels I’ve been storing.
  3. secondhand bookstores – if I’m on holiday and I run out of books (this happened in April when we were in Sabie), I dash into a secondhand bookstore and grab a cheap copy of a book by an author I’m familiar with.
  4. gifts from my Amazon wish list

A word on libraries

I’ve recently discovered a new thing – reserving books. You complete a form, they phone you when the book’s in and then you pay R12 for the book. Where are you ever going to get a book for R12 these days?!

I reserved the Marian Keyes book in the top photo and I can’t wait to dig in.

How I read books |


I only read 1 – 2 non-fiction books a month – my goal is 15 for the year – and here are the three sources of my non-fiction:

  1. Books from my bookshelf (I’ve been buying non-fiction at Exclusive Books my whole life and I buy them faster than I can read)
  2. Kindle (since I bought my Kindle nearly 5 years ago, I stopped buying physical books and get them on the Kindle)
  3. Audible – this is a new development since the beginning of this year and is perfect for using my commute time effectively. Since Audible, I no longer buy non-fiction for the Kindle unless the author is not reading their own work. Sadly, not all books are available on Audible but there are plenty to keep me busy for the next year or so 🙂

More on Audible

I have a few rules for myself:

  • I prefer it if the author reads their own work
  • If not, then I need to enjoy the narrator’s voice. One of my favourite books from this year, Overwhelmed, was narrated by someone else but she had a great voice and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.

Earlier this year I felt a tad overwhelmed by all the books I’d bought and not yet listened to, so I paused my membership for 3 months while I caught up.

And that’s it!

How do you get the fiction or non-fiction books you read? Let me know on Facebook or Instagram.

How I read books |

A friend made me this beautiful Kindle cover. I love it!!!

More posts you might like:

Why I never thought I’d get a Kindle

2 years with my Kindle

3 years with my Kindle

5 reasons I still love my Kindle after 3 years

My hubby asked me to send a book to his Kindle and when I went into my account, I realised today is my three-year anniversary with my Kindle.

It’s been love at first sight 🙂


Well, three years in and I still love my Kindle like nobody’s business!

  1. No clutter – I have over 200 books on there…
  2. So easy for travel – this is the actual reason I bought it… in the pre-Kindle days I would carry a bag of books with me…
  3. One-click buying. No more finding a convenient time to go to Exclusive Books to get a book I want. I pop over to Amazon and buy there and then (if under $10) or put it on my wish list until I can’t hold out anymore
  4. It’s light even when reading a 500-page book
  5. I love that I can do nothing else on it but read. No disturbances from Facebook or Instagram notifications popping up like when I read something on the ipad’s Kindle app.

In case you’re interested, I’ve bought 165 books in the 3 years (don’t ask how much I’ve spent!):

  • 2011 – 42
  • 2012 – 52
  • 2013 – 54
  • 2014 – 17 so far

A small % of those have been gifts (probably only about 15 – 20 overall).

Do you have a Kindle?

Have you finished reading all your physical books?

PS I really only have one gripe about the Kindle – it’s never as satisfying taking a photo of the Kindle as of a “real” book 😉

PPS In the interests of full disclosure, I must confess I now have monthly “read 5 – 10 Kindle samples” on my goals lists because of how easy it is to keep downloading samples and never doing anything with them 😮

Looking back on two years with my Kindle


I may have bought my Kindle quite impulsively just over two years ago after much to and fro about whether an e-reader was right for me.

At the time I also justified that the cost of getting one would be offset, book by book, because Kindle books are cheaper (even sometimes half the price, especially here in South Africa) than physical books.

Well, Amazon makes the buying process so easy and slick

I get the emails that say they recommend I have a look at these 5 books and lo and behold, those 5 books are actually books I’d read (the clever marketing people are doing their jobs very well) so off I click and another one or two are “wirelessly delivered to my device” 🙂

And then I read a few blogs and people talk about the books they’ve been reading so click, click and I’m on Amazon. With just one click, another couple are delivered to my device.

So as you can imagine, for the first couple of months (probably for the first year if I’m to be 100% honest) I bought about 8 – 10 books a MONTH. Much more than I’d normally buy if I were paying for physical books.

Simply because the process is so easy.

Of late, I’ve forced myself to first get the sample and then see if it’s any good before buying and that has worked a treat. To give you an idea, I’ve “only” bought 22 Kindle books this year.

I also love giving Kindle books as gifts. And I’ve found it very useful to quickly buy missing books in a series if I’m impatient to start reading.

Some stats on my Kindle behaviour…

But over to you!

Do you have a Kindle?

How many books have you bought on it and more importantly, how many have you read?

Why I never thought I’d get a Kindle

I’m not one of those people who has to have the latest gadget.

I try to be intentional about my life and as such, really question

a) whether I need it

b) if I want to pay what they are asking for it

c) whether my current solution is as good as the new thing

d) whether I will actually use the new thing


I am a reader, a BIG reader. I read tons of books and have actively created time in my day, every day, to spend reading.

I’m also a very tactile person.

Long-time readers will remember that I’ve bought notebooks or bags, sometimes purely based on how lovely they feel to my touch.

(I’m not even ashamed to say this but recently in a stationery store I hauled out my daily planner and told a fellow shopper to “just feel it – it’s gorgeous”) 🙂

Anyway, back to reading.

I love the feel of a book in my hand, the smell of new pages and the experience of turning pages and using a bookmark, etc.

It’s all part of the experience for me.

Like holding a hot mug of tea is just as part of the experience of actually drinking the tea.


I have been opening up my mind to the possibility of getting a Kindle.

My friend over at se7en told me that there are books you buy on a Kindle and then there are books you still need to buy to see and feel the gorgeous, glossy pages.

That sparked something in my mind.

I knew what she meant.

For me, this means the books I would typically sell to a second-hand bookshop or donate to charity are Kindle books and ones like the Pioneer Woman’s cookbook is something I would still buy a physical copy of.

So the other day in the office a colleague mentioned that her hubby was in the US and had just texted her about the Kindle he was getting for her.

Apparently I’d done all the processing I needed to because I piped up, “oh, can he please get one for me too?”

A few days later I am the proud owner of a beautiful white Kindle.

I have bought and downloaded tons of books already (they make it sooooo easy with the one-click) and can’t wait to go on holiday next week with the Kindle, instead of my usual stash of 4 – 5 books.

Imagine the space I’ll be saving!

If you have a Kindle, what is its name? Mine is a boring Marcia’s Kindle 🙂

Are you totally e-reading? Or do you also have books you must touch?

So I finally got a Kindle

I’ll go into the why and how and why I was hesitant, blah blah blah in another post, but for now…

Let’s talk organising.

I bought a number of books the other evening. Basically I went into my goodreads account, looked up all the ones I’d marked as to read and bought a lot of them.


The best is that after you’ve bought some books Amazon then tells you things you probably will like, and they’re right!

So yes, I went a bit wild and there were about 12 – 15 downloads on my home page.

Being me, I made folders and organised them all neatly into categories.

Some of my categories are:

  1. chick lit
  2. non-fiction
  3. samples
  4. Christian
  5. business ebooks (like my free Time Management Purpose Pack, for instance)

Do you have a Kindle or an e-reader? What are your categories?

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