I read from the backlist (and you should, too)!

Behold, a post (AKA that time Morgan panicked and finished up an old draft just for #NaBloPoMo despite it only being Day 2)!

In light of the incessant ARC drama that blows through the book community every few months or so (especially after BookExpo limiting bloggers plot twist where everyone played the blame game on social media), I came across this one realization– the book blogging community is overrun with new releases. You can’t take a dip into the blogosphere without being drowned by books releasing today, tomorrow, and next year (NEXT YEAR, PEOPLE. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT TIME BEING SO DAMN FLEETING. STOPPIT). It’s a bit overwhelming.

Now, before you guys come at me bearing pitchforks and ill intentions, hear me out (I know some of y’all have selective hearing/reading).

I’m not saying only investing in new books is a crime against humanity. I know you’re more likely to get your blog traffic by posting book reviews of new releases than old ones anyway. I also know that getting to shout “I READ THIS SHINY, PRETTY THING FIRST!” is a great source of accomplishment for some. All I’m saying is that there is another side of the book world that often gets ignored– the backlist book.

While on vacation way back when, I spent a lot of time thinking about my blog (because why tf would I actually relax?). I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t enforce a blog “theme” here, but I did realize that backlisted books are a topic of interest for me. There are so many hidden gems being pushed to the back and forgotten, and I would like to dedicate a good bit of my time here helping to bring those precious babies back to the forefront. Let’s define it: Backlisted books, for me at least, are those titles that have been out in the world at least a year (I’m gonna nudge that up and say “two to three years” here) that haven’t been getting as much marketing as the more recent titles. If there isn’t somebody talking about them, they tend to fizzle out of sight and out of mind which is a crying shame. So, here are five reasons I read titles from the backlist quite often.

Five Reasons to Read from the Backlist

1. I built this blog on what I knew (read: what I already owned)

I’m virtually a baby when it comes to this whole book blogging gig. When I first started, I wanted to stick with what I knew. I posted reviews on books I read and still remembered from 2015 before turning to the books that sat unread on my shelves for the longest time. While money was definitely a factor in the beginning (bro, I can walk into any bookstore and buy 5-10 “old” books for the price of 1 new hardcover most days), that certainly isn’t the only reason. It’s just easier that way. When you aren’t really hip to what all of the cool kids are reading nowadays (like me– the literal dinosaur), it’s just less stress to pick up the nearest FUCK-I-NEED-TO-READ-THIS-BEFORE-I-DIE book from your bookshelf.  Some people like to stick a toe into the shallow end of the pool and wade around a bit before diving off the deep end, and that is A-OK.

2. The hype… It BURNS!

If you’ve never been burned by book hype, k e e p  l i v i n g. It will happen, and I want you to remember that I tried to warn you about it. A lot of reviews and talk, in general, surrounding new releases seem biased af. Many of them are way too positive– even the negative ones! Everyone’s pushing for their fave author’s next “greatest hit.” Publishing houses and other book resources are throwing out their starred reviews like hotcakes. Everything is pitched to readers as “the next [/insert everyone’s recent fave YA title or author here].” It all gives you the expectation that a work is going to be absolutely amazing. You can decide whether or not hype has an affect on you. In fact, Cait from Paper Fury does an amazing job outlining the pros and cons of book hype. For me, personally, the hype can be a double-edged sword that I don’t always want to deal with (I’m sure I’ll touch on this more later).

3. The gratitude of my many many MANY TBR piles

Want to feel really good about yourself? Start eliminating books you added to your TBR pile YEARS ago. Trust me. I put A Game of Thrones (which has kind of moved to frontlist status thanks to the show but whatevs) on my list about four or so years ago and finally took the plunge to tackle that beast last year. Not only was my TBR pile seven hundred and four pages shorter, I also just felt better.

4. I get to head on back to “Go,” and collect $200

Like that Monopoly analogy? No? Well, I’m sorry, but it will probably happen again.

I’m not a robot, so I haven’t read it all. [/pause for effect here]

There are plenty of books I’ve missed on my reading journey, whether it be due to forced school readings or being a slow ass mood reader. There was a period of time when I just wasn’t reading thanks to being in school, and I missed out on sensations like The Hunger Games trilogy, The Night Circus, and Throne of Glass (thank the gods I missed that train). Hell, I even missed out on A Series of Unfortunate Events, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Harry Freaking Potter the first time around.

When I was a wee lass, I was into cheesy horror from the likes of Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine, and I refused to read anything else. Middle grade me came along and broadened her horizons a little bit by being such a big book snob and refusing anything shy of 400 pages. (Seriously, if a book didn’t have enough pages to make the average person quiver in its wake, I wasn’t interested.) High school me was into vampires; and college me only read what was assigned. I give all of these examples to say that there are plenty of things that I missed in my twenty-something years of reading; and if I simply just moved on to only reading books that came out in 2015 and beyond, I would miss out on MANY amazing works like Howl’s Moving Castle which I loved to pieces. So, it’s good that I get to jump back to whatever year and pick up what I hadn’t gotten around to the first time. I discover something truly amazing every time.

5. Old folks books need love, too

I get it. Shiny, new things are oh so beautiful, and you want them in your life. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I never pre-order books or get sucked into reading something new (because that would make me a filthy liar). However, old books need your sweet loving, too. I feel like the book community (the YA portion, at least) is so one-track minded. If it came out last month, it’s old news. So, 2015 books are often seen as prehistoric when they’re not (guys, learn a thing about time, okay?). It can sometimes be a little frustrating. In fact, if it wasn’t for my library sometimes promoting books that are 5 and 10 years old, I wouldn’t know that Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was perfect for me. If my friends wouldn’t gush to me about their old high school faves all the time, I wouldn’t know that Uprooted even existed. Guys, if it weren’t for YOU bookbloggers, I never would have learned about the wonderful world of Saga; and that is a hell I’m glad I no longer live in (even though the hell I currently live in involves having to wait a year for a damn volume to come out).

There’s a new generation of readers being born every single day, and I think it’s good to always promote a little bit of the old along with the new. You never know what new world you’re opening up for someone reading your posts right now.

So, give it to me: What were your all-time favorite books that came out maybe 3-5+ years ago? (let’s not all jump on the Harry Potter train, though, okay?)

10 thoughts on “I read from the backlist (and you should, too)!

  1. I loved this post Morgan! I felt like you touched on a lot of important things that often come up with blogging. Even though I do primarily review YA, I’ve branched out since I’ve first started and review a multitude of genres. I definitely feel the pressure to keep up with what everyone is reading, but honestly I just can’t because of my schedule. I try to mix up my reviews of newer and older books and I love backlist books. In fact I’ve spent a lot of time this year balancing out new reads, ARCs, as well as tackling books from my own shelves. It’s hard, but I like being able to review what I want at my own pace. I’ve cut down on a lot of ARCs too, and am only requesting books I really want to read. Thanks again for an awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! :)

      I feel you with trying to balance out the new and the old when reviewing things. It just seems like the way to go. I got overwhelmed with the ARCs I’d gotten earlier this year (during a very rough time for me reading/blogging-wise) because I felt so obligated to read them quick to not only post the reviews but to keep up with everyone in our little bookish corner of the internet… But that’s just not me. I’m way too into doing my own thing and dancing to the beat of my own drum right now, so I’ve definitely cut down on trying to read every new thing that comes out this year in favor of the books I want to read– both old and new. It’s been a major relief that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love backlist books. I don’t request many ARCS because the rest of my life basically involves reading things on schedule. I don’t want my hobby to involve reading things on a schedule, as well. I review a lot of books that I own, that I get from the library, that I borrow from friends etc. And even though I love new releases, I like to revisit old favorites and books I missed.

    I also like seeing backlist books on others’ blogs. It can be very overwhelming to see everyone reviewing the same book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly this. I’d like for my hobby to be the one area I don’t have to be so uptight about. I’m usually a “go with the flow” type of reader anyways. Unless it’s a book I’m seriously waiting on (and there are a lot of those coming up in 2017, apparently), I usually let the hype dies down before I get around to reading the newer things because I like to go into things as unbiased as possible.


      • Hype has killed a few books for me. I read them right away and just thought “Well it’s not THAT amazing.” I get very high expectations from hype. :(


  3. Three cheers for this entire post.

    When I first started my blog, I stuck to reviewing the things that had been on my shelves for a while–and an acquaintance scrolled through my first half-dozen posts and asked (kind of condescendingly), “Why don’t you review new releases? Don’t you want people to actually read your blog?” My immediate reaction was a lovely combination of shock and fury (you know, the kind that leaves you blushing and struggling to form a coherent reply). Thanks for sneering at me for caring more about reading for my own pleasure than garnering page views, dude.

    Now I try to balance the new books with the backlist ones, because I do want to be able to participate in timely conversations about the major releases. But one thing I love about reviewing older books (other than every point you already made, which I agree with 100%) is that I can fairly reasonably assume that a lot of people have already read the book, so I don’t have to be super careful about spoilers. (Spoiler-free reviews are hell for me.)

    Anyway, backlist-love high five! =D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Uhm… Rude Dude With a ‘Tude. I feel like quite a few bloggers do start out with what they know first to get their feel for things. It’s a bit much to throw yourself off the cliff of this community with unfamiliar territory (y’know, if you’re not the adventurous sink or swim type). I actually love it when bloggers review older books anyway… because I’m that shameful blogger who has read absolutely nothing and is currently trying to rectify past sins.

      Saaaaame. Well… a flailing attempt to be same. I always want to know what everyone else is reading because I’m nosy and want to join in the conversations. I think you do a great job of finding that balance between the old and the new because I definitely look to you when I’m stuck and need something to read. (Spoiler-free reviews are the worst and I always feel bad because I feel like I accidentally spoil things all the time… even when I don’t).

      P.S. My blog is also in on this “must-approve-this-comment” conspiracy, and I’m not amused.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, I’m more a gingerly-dip-a-toe in type, myself.

        Hey, there’s nothing shameful in not having read tons of stuff already. Everyone starts somewhere, right? And your discovery of books that other people might’ve already read can remind them how magical it felt to read that story for the first time, and inspire them to go back and relive that experience. You have the power to give people the nostalgic warm-fuzzies, and that’s awesome.

        (You also have the power to make people reassess their reactions to old favorites, and maybe realize that it wasn’t quite as great as they used to think. It’s not exactly exiting to realize a beloved old book is super sexist, for example, but it’s educational, and can make people more aware of what they’re currently reading.)

        Whoops, got off on a ramble, sorry.

        Aaand now I’m all ablush, thinking maybe I’ve helped you find books you enjoyed.

        *Shakes a fist a WordPress.*


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