Recommended Reads: #BacklistBoost

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?

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18 thoughts on “Recommended Reads: #BacklistBoost

  1. I actually didn’t like The Testing? Like I haven’t finished the entire trilogy but I read the first book and I liked the idea of the world building and the overall plot but I wasn’t met with any desires much to ever continue it, but if it was your favorite I guess i should be more open to it.

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  2. Aaaaah Ketchup Clouds man, that takes me back to my early secondary school days. I remember being captured by the cover as we had a different cover and I took it out. Though I’m not sure if I read it all or not now. Sarah Dessen is amazing, love her books and I remember loving The Truth About Forever haha. I started I’ll Give You The Sun a while ago but ended up stopping and never picking it back up…I really should though.

    I reread some books every year sometimes, not always the entire book, just certain chapters or sections. I remember though throughout secondary school, if I was every angry/upset/hurting and needed a way to forget my emotions and just calm down I’d pick up A Clockwork Prince. To this day I still reach for that book when I need comfort and a way to escape. There’s something about The Infernal Devices which connected with me as a 13 year old, and now that world of Victorian London with all the characters feels like home.

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    1. reading is one of the healthiest coping mechanisms imo, and I love knowing a book well enough to be able to skip to the exact parts that I need at the moment – sometimes the world sucks, but our fictional favorites won’t let us down 💕

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  3. Love this idea! I’ve been doing terrible on the Backlist front this year, but it’s usually not an issue for me. There’s no rule that says only new books are good (but they are indeed shiny).

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  4. I’ll Give You The Sun was also one of my favourite reads and I remember thoroughly enjoying it!
    I have had We Were Liars on my TBR since forever but somehow I just can not seem to get my hands on it! I think I will just bump it up to the top and make it the next book on my to-buy list!

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    1. LOL I used to reread a few favorite books every few months, though maybe it was partly convenience because they were also the ones I had on my shelf. and at one point my brother literally only reread the Harry Potter books over and over (as soon as he finished the last one, he’d start again from the first) … but I don’t think I’ve done much rereading this year, based on Kal’s handy dandy spreadsheet 🤔

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  5. I really enjoyed We Were Liars which surprised me, and I also really loved Ketchup Clouds. Have you read Pitcher’s book Out of My Mind? It’s even better and my favourite of hers. Ooh, and My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by her is also wonderful. If you wanted more backlist titles for yourself 😉

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