Do You Read Backlist Titles?

Do You Read Backlist Titles

Book bloggers often seem to focus on new releases, working hard to get advanced reader copies (ARCs) for review or blogging primarily about books being published that same year, or the next.  However, the worth of a book cannot be measured by its release date alone.  Plenty of “older” titles (an adjective that can apply to a book released maybe even only three years ago) are still vibrant and compelling stories–ones worth reading.

Reading every book published every year simply is not possible, even for those who read incessantly. Even if readers limit themselves only to categories like “middle-grade books” or “fantasy YA,” they still will not be able to read every book published in a given year.  This means that, every year, there are plenty of exciting stories that I fail to read.  But they still have intriguing summaries, glowing reviews, or provocative premises.  I still want to read them.

I regularly read backlist titles because a good story remains a good story, even after time has passed.  It is not the newness of a book that makes it moving or gripping or memorable.  Rather, it is the characters, the plot, and the prose that combine to make a book the type of story that nestles deep into your heart, that makes you think, that maybe changes your life forever.  I would hate to miss out on something wonderful simply because it is no longer new.

But reading backlist titles has benefits–namely, that I am more likely to find others who have read the book, too.  Discussions of books is difficult when reviewing ARCs or even when reviewing a book only a few weeks old, because not many others have  read or finished the story.  In these cases, comments on reviews are often confined to statements like, “Great review!” or “I’m looking forward to reading this!” In-depth comments on the story and readers’ reactions to it are not yet possible.  But I love hearing what others thought of the book, whether that means they are sharing my enthusiasm or pointing out aspects of the book I may have overlooked or interpreted differently.  Talking about books is half the fun of reading.

Reading backlist titles gives me the opportunity to find gems I may have missed and the opportunity to talk about my new finds with others who have already read and loved them.  I would never want to miss out on a good book simply because it was not published this  year.

Do you read backlist titles?

 

72 thoughts on “Do You Read Backlist Titles?

    • Krysta says:

      There are too many books to read! I often end up in cycles where I read new releases for awhile, then some backlist titles, maybe some classics or rereads, then back to new releases….

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  1. Karen J Schoff says:

    Almost all of my reading are backlist titles, some stretching back decades, because as you so rightly say, a good book is a good book no matter how old it is. Occasionally I might get to read a new release, but I don’t worry too much about keeping up with new releases – it’s impossible anyway. If they are good books, then they’ll still be good books when I eventually get around to them.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. DoingDewey says:

    I’ve been reviewing almost all ARCs this year, having over-zealously picked them up at ALA Midwinter and I’ve definitely noticed a drop-off in comments compared to reading backlist books. I think I’ll try to make those more of my focus next year 🙂 I’d also like to do more getting to the backlists of specific authors I enjoy. I almost never do this, instead focusing on the new and shiny (new to me, even if a backlist book), and I think I might have a better shot at finding books I love if I revisit some authors.

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    • Krysta says:

      I’ve been spending more time recently rereading old favorites, even books I haven’t read for ten years or more. It’s been phenomenal! The stories still hold up and I remember why I loved them so much in the first place. It’s great to pick up a book and already know you’re going to love it.

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  3. Jess Smith says:

    This year I’ve mostly been reading new releases or ARC titles, but I love reading backlist books! I have so many books on my TBR pile, if a book sounds good to me, it doesn’t matter when it was published, I’ll still read it 🙂

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  4. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    I think most of the books I read are backlist titles. I used to read more ARCs from NetGalley, but it’s so hard to keep up. So now, I just look for books that sound interesting and don’t really bother checking the publish date (unless it’s about the internet or technology or some other field that moves very fast).

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    • Krysta says:

      That makes sense! I like to go through my Goodreads to-read list sometimes and read books I had marked, but never gotten around to. Last year or the year before, I spent a few months reading a bunch of books from 2015. It turns out 2015 was a great year for books! I had just missed them all at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. ivebeenbookedblog says:

    I mostly read blacklisted books because, like you said there are more discussions. I also enjoy buying cheap books and the books that are older you can find for cheaper and possibly second for almost nothing. I also love it when friends recommend books. I can have great conversations with them.

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  6. Lindsay Short says:

    I absolutely agree – it’s easy to stop caught up in the whirlwind of new releases. I honestly didn’t even know older books were called blacklisted books. I am a mood reader so I read whatever is interesting to me – whether it’s new or older. I should probably try to read some of the even more older titles on my tbr list haha. They are easier to find in the library which is a bonus!

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  7. Cameron Graham says:

    I adore reading older books, partly because it means I can get them second-hand and therefore balance buying books with buying food, and also for the joy of knowing that at least one other person has read this book too. I’m also not much of a person to worry about ‘spoiling’ a book – an increasing problem in the modern world – so it’s a big help to know that I’m talking about a book that’s been out for 10 years and I’m less likely to ‘ruin’ it for others.

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      • Cameron Graham says:

        If I were to be terribly honest, that quote about ‘When I have a little money I buy books. And if there’s any left over, I’ll buy food.’ is far too accurate for my life… But yes, secondhand books do make those sums add up a whole lot better!

        Also secondhand books need to be rescued and brought home to be loved by forever keepers!

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Yesha - Books Teacup and Reviews says:

    Wonderful post! I totally agree with you. I find it difficult to comment on books I have not read so as you mentioned, I put generic comment or share the post. on the other hand if i have read the book I can interact better. I read many backlist books that most readers have read ages ago either popular or classics. They are cheaper and everybody has something to say about it.

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  9. PerfectlyTolerable says:

    I do read backlist titles! I am actually really bad at reading books right when they come out and I almost never get ARCs so most of the books I read are backlist 😂😂 And I only comment on reviews of books I have read because I don’t like reading reviews before reading the book, so I can totally see that backlist books get better comments! Great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alex @ WhimsyPages says:

    I think I have a good balance going on this year with maybe 60% ARCs and 40% of older books that I already own and that have been on my TBR for quite a while and I finally decided to purchase them. 🙂

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  11. Jennifer says:

    I’ve only just joined the ARC/NetGalley train, so I’ve been picking up a lot more ARCs now. Before this, my reading was almost exclusively backlist, for similar reasons others mentioned (like them being more accessible).

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  12. Grab the Lapels says:

    I’m kind of giggling because my brain is asking, “What the heck is a backlist book, and how far back does the list go?” But I get what you mean. I don’t like reading reviews of new books because A) I’ve already read half a dozen reviews of the same book; if I haven’t been sold, I’m not going to be on #6, B) A lot of reviewers will write lazy things like “What can I add that someone else hasn’t already? Great book!” and that’s a waste of everyone’s time, and C) I don’t want to create one of those reviews in a sea of reviews.

    I have been sold on a review of a highly popular book after the hype dies down. Just recently I read a review of Circe that finally sold me on it. The reviewer had space from the wave of hype, and as a result she was able to focus on what she liked about the book, which was different from what I’d already read about it (repeatedly). I’ve found this has happened several times — “old” book equals fresh review for me.

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    • Krysta says:

      I don’t know how far the list goes. Is Shakespeare a backlist title? Haha!

      But, yes! It’s tiring to see 20 reviews of the same book. I don’t read them all and I sometimes get so tired of seeing the book around, I don’t even want to read it anymore!

      That’s a great point. It’s nice to be able to reflect on a book without getting caught in the hype or maybe feeling pressured to respond in the way everyone else seems to be.

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  13. Emma says:

    I try to maintain a balance between new releases and blacklists titles, but I tend to read slightly more older books and I don’t mind that. As long as it’s a good story, I don’t care when the book came out.

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  14. etinosa says:

    I read a lot of backlist books. I understand the pressure on bloggers to read new releases though, there is always that fear of missing out and worry that people won’t be interested in reading reviews of backlists books. But most of the books I have access to are backlist books. I don’t really care when a book came out though as long as it’s good.

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    • Krysta says:

      It’s definitely easier for me to get backlist books. My library doesn’t have much money to buy all the new releases and it’s usually a few months after release until I can get them through ILL.

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  15. Michael J. Miller says:

    Oh, absolutely! In fact, it’s rare a book comes out and I read it immediately. There are only a few authors who I do that with and, even there, it’s not unfailingly. There’s SO MUCH out there I could never limit myself to what’s just released. I tend to read whatever my heart and mind are pulling me towards, regardless of the publishing date.

    While I grant my blog isn’t a “book blog” exclusively, seven of the ten most read pieces on my site are essays around stories that came out before I began blogging. So, at least given my own personal experience, I think there’s a lot to your point that people enjoy reading about and discussing stories they’ve already read too. And, like you said, it’s just more fun that way :). Who doesn’t want to have a fun discussion about a book they’ve just read?? Practically speaking, if you only read new releases then it makes it harder to find others who’ve also read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yes! I’ve started waiting a bit to publish reviews of new releases. It’s tempting to publish right away if I’m really excited about what I just read. But I think people need at least a month, if not more, to be able to respond to the review.

      And older works and classics are really great because tons of people have already read them and are ready to talk!

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

    So many good points in this post! I love backlist books. To be honest, i didn’t start really reading regularly until, like, last year. Before that, I was reading maybe, like, 20 books a year? 30 books? And there are … so many more than 30 books published a year. So I’ve missed A LOT. I love getting recommendations for backlist books and going back to discover books that the people around me are passionate about!

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    • Krysta says:

      Yes! There are so many great backlist books out there. And I think the general public knows that. When I make recommendations, no one ever checks the publication date! It’s mainly bloggers who seem to feel pressure to read only current titles.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Annemieke says:

    I try and divide my time between newer releases and backlist titles. So far I’ve read 52 2019-2018 releases this year from 96 books read. Its a little much for my taste normally but I have been extremely lucky with some of the books I’ve gotten this year. The up is that backlist books are not going to walk away. 😉

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  18. kozbisa says:

    I have been doing a hard push on my backlist, and selecting one book from the backlog each week to read. I also do a One Old, One New post, where the two books are connected in some way. I agree that the right backlist book can be a discussion boom. A lot of people are delighted to talk about old favorites with you.

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  19. Enobong says:

    I used to only ever read backlists because I was so out of touch with new releases and I miss those days of reading well-loved favourites that have stood the test of time. I try to make sure i fit one or two backlist titles in each month now

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Mina @Stacked says:

    Actually, I prefer backlist books and read them most of the time. Of course, I try to read some good ARCs, but you can’t really talk about them with people because very few have read them.

    Also, if a book is good, to me it doesn’t matter if it the publication date is 300 years ago or tomorrow, I just look for quality.

    I think it’s sad that some people limit themselves and read only the latest titles. There are many jewels among backlists

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    I definitely read more backlist titles than frontlist. (This post made me curious so I looked at my stats from last year – 20% frontlist). I know I started focusing a lot more on new releases when I started blogging more, so even when I’m making something of an effort to keep up that’s all I get to. With so many great titles to keep track of, sometimes I think I’m picking up a recent one and then I remember it was actually released two years earlier… That last point about it being difficult to discuss ARCs/newly published titles is a good one that I think is easy to forget about until those comments you describe start coming in! It’s exciting for me to read a book I’m anticipating ASAP (i.e. by acquiring an ARC) but it becomes more enjoyable when I can discuss that book with other readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I feel like reading can become difficult because I have all these expectations on me and not only from blogging. I know one person who comes to me for new YA fantasy recs. I know someone who asks me for YA appropriate for her children. Stuff like that happens, but I sometimes just want to read what I want to read, even if that means some Nancy Drew or going back to the Mysterious Benedict Society before book four comes out. I want to be helpful to people, but I also don’t want to be reading all the time with other people in mind.

      Liked by 2 people

  22. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall says:

    Ah, I love this post! I’m a huge advocate for reading backlist titles, because as you said, a great story will remain one, even after years have passed. I also love the opportunities to discuss the novel with fellow bookworms – a task that’s quite difficult to do when reviewing an ARC. I also appreciate how backlist titles are often less expensive than new releases. My bank account relishes in delight! Haha! ❤

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  23. Terézia says:

    I have given up on newly released titles unless they really interest me, I would much rather wait until they get to libraries, which can take a long time… But browsing on library shelves really gives you the pleasure of finding out gems that some backlist titles are!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I tend to wait for most new titles, as well. If it’s at the library, great. If not, I can wait. I have hundreds of books on my TBR list that I can read in the meantime.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Book Club Mom says:

    This is a great discussion point. Lately I have been thinking about all the reviews I see of books that have just been released. It’s impressive how many bloggers keep up a schedule like this, but I prefer to read whatever book I want. For that reason, I often read books that have been out there for a while and I love to go back to classics I haven’t read for one reason or another. As you say, there are so many new books published each month. It’s impossible to keep up!

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