A short while back, Kal @ Reader Voracious launched #backlistboost on social media to encourage the bookish community to talk about those old and new-to-you favorites that often get overlooked for the shiny new releases. (Go check out the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, if you haven’t already; there’s some really awesome creative features! And, of course, you can contribute your own.)
But I lack the commitment or aesthetic vision for Bookstagram — I have an account but never touch it — and I barely remember to check Twitter let alone write / schedule tweets. So, as is typical for me, I’m contributing a blog post instead … and, as is also typical for me, I’m kind of late to the party. Oops.
Technically “backlist” refers to all books released before the current year: all 2018 and earlier releases qualify. But I noticed that a lot of my Beat the Backlist reads are from 2018; just for fun, I’m challenging myself to use titles published before 2017!
- I’m not a huge fan of horror/suspense or thrillers, but I just could not look away from (or, well, put down) The Three (2014) by Sarah Lotz. It gave me nightmares like I had not experienced since Roald Dahl’s The Witches (1983 — bonus backlist rec!), and I mean that in the best way. If you’re in the mood for death and the apocalypse, give this one a try.
- During my cynical early teen years, I was sure I hated YA romance; and then The Geography of You and Me (2014) by Jennifer E. Smith came as a pleasant surprise. I adored the motifs of geography and postcards, and it’s just such a sweet, dreamy read.
- Radiance (2015) was one of my first Catherynne M. Valente books, and I immediately fell head-over-heels for this “decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood — and solar system — very different from our own,” as it’s billed in the synopsis. The very minute I finished it, I flipped back to the first page and reread the whole book, which is something I rarely do.
- Just when I thought I was totally burnt out on dystopian YA, The Testing trilogy (2013-14) by Joelle Charbonneau proved me wrong. I was swept up in the cutthroat school setting and vivid characters: unique enough to be interesting, familiar enough to be satisfying.
- I was hooked from the clever title and pretty cover of Up to This Pointe (2016) by Jennifer Longo, and luckily the narrative didn’t disappoint. I’ve always had a soft spot for protagonists who are extremely passionate about their One Goal in life, and my heart broke alongside Harper’s when it didn’t work out. But this is a story about picking yourself back up after Life knocks you down and figuring out where you fit in this world. It’s fantastic.
- To this day, We Were Liars (2014) by E. Lockhart remains one of my all-time favorite books. Dysfunctional privileged family, lies and secrets, the whole kit and kaboodle. You’ve probably heard of it, possibly even read it — but if it’s still hanging out on your TBR, do yourself a favor and bump it up to the top.
- I think I picked up Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (2012) on a whim, curious about the title and drawn in by the cover, and I’m so glad that I did. It’s suspenseful and beautifully descriptive, with a charming narrator who reminded me that the epistolary format, when done well, can make for incredible storytelling.
- Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun (2014) might be one of my first favorite quiet YA books. I’ve always been fascinated by sibling relationships, particularly between twins, and this interpretation of destiny really appealed to me.
- Since I’ve apparently drawn heavily from my high school reading logs, this list wouldn’t be complete without a Sarah Dessen novel. She’s written so many good ones, but The Truth About Forever (2004) stands out in my memory: found family, soft romance, a pivotal summer break.
Which are your favorite backlist books? Do you tend to reread old favorites every few months, every few years, or rarely-to-never?