A Year of Backlist Books

For me, 2021 is a year of backlist books! That is the reading challenge I have given myself for 2021.

A Year of Backlist Books Stack

Reading Challenges

I have done a few reading challenges over the years. I have challenged myself to read 100 books in a year or another set number of books. A set number of books works for me, but I always find myself focusing more on the quantity, not the quality when I set a goal for a certain number of books. 

I have also done a nonfiction book for every state challenge. I loved that challenge. It took me two years to do, but I read so many books that I never would have picked up if it had not been for that challenge. 

Then there was 2020. It was not great for my reading life. I know I am not alone in that. 2020 was tough on many of our reading lives.

I knew I needed a challenge for 2021 to get my reading life back on track. I work better with goals, and so I started working on finding a goal for 2021. 

I wanted a goal that did not have super strict rules though. I wanted a challenge that didn’t put me in a box of specific books I had to read or a specific amount of books. 

2021 A Year of Backlist Books Stack

Over the last few years, I have bought a lot of books. One of the things that we love to do when we travel is to visit used bookstores. When we visit a used bookstore, we almost always leave with a stack of books. We didn’t travel a lot in 2020, but in 2018 and 2019 we did. That means we visited quite a few bookstores and bought quite a few books. 

2020 might not have been a good reading or travel year for me, but I still ended up buying a lot of books.

Many of them were newer books published in 2020. I am not usually tempted by the newest books all over social media, but in 2020 I was. I bought more new releases in 2020 than I think I ever have. 

Backlist Books

I have always loved backlist books. Some of my favorite books are the older, often forgotten about books. I want to find more of those hidden gems, and I want to help you find them as well. 

Social media and book websites are full of popular new releases. The books that are popular right now. The ones that everyone seems to be reading.

This is especially true when it comes to fiction. You see the latest most popular fiction books everywhere on social media and books websites. 

We understand why that is the case. Publishers and authors want to get the word out about their books.

The reality is that many great books are released each week, but there are so many older books that are also worth reading. Books that were released last year, five years ago, or even ten or more years ago. 

Great books are often called great books because they have stood the test of time. They are the books we recommend now and will still be recommending five years from now. They are books that get attention because they are well written books, not just because they are the hot new books that everyone is reading. 

A Year of Backlist Books

My to read pile has turned into a whole bookshelf that is now overflowing onto the floor. That overflowing to be read bookshelf is why I have declared 2021 the year of backlist books. 

I need to read the books I own before I buy anymore. I also need to stop being distracted by the new shiny books. Older books are worth reading too. So my reading goal for 2021 is to read backlist books only. 

My rules for this challenge are simple. Any book that I read in 2021 has to be published before 2021. 

A book published in 2020 is not exactly what some would consider a backlist book, but it is not really a new release either. So books published in 2020 are allowed.  

2021 A Year of Backlist Books

I am also hoping to limit the books that I buy. Hopefully, we will be back to traveling at some point in 2021. If I find books at a used bookstore or at a bookstore when traveling, I will still buy them. I am not going to be that strict, but when I do buy books, I want to focus on buying older backlist books. 

In order to limit me from buying new releases, I made an Amazon wishlist for 2021. Anytime I find a book new release book that I really want to read, I will add it to my 2021 wishlist.

If I still want to read the book after next year, I can buy it then. I have plenty of books to keep me busy without buying new releases next year. 

The exception to this will be my Book of the Month books. I am keeping my subscription to Book of the Month. If I really want to read a specific book that I get from Book of the Month, I will read it, but most of them will probably go in my to be read later pile. 

My plan is to give monthly updates on what backlist books that I am reading. As always, I will also share the reviews. 

Do you want to join my year of backlist books challenge? 

Do you have a huge TBR list or pile? Do you focus on older books, not just the new releases that are getting all the attention?

Do you want to join me for this challenge? I would love to have some readers join me. If you decided to join, leave a comment letting me know. I would love to figure out a way for us to talk backlist books together as a group. We could easily do this in our Facebook group. Let me know what you think! 

A Year of Backlist Books

8 thoughts on “A Year of Backlist Books”

  1. I’m in! There are so many books from the last few years on my To-be-read
    List that I’m sure they’ll keep me busy! Last year was my year of intentional reading but I stalled out this Fall.

    • Great! I would love to have some readers join in. I plan to do a monthly post sharing what I read and then readers can share what backlist books they have read too. I am also planning a few other fun things. I think it will be fun to encourage each other and help each other find some great backlist books that we might not have heard of.

  2. Great idea. I’d also like to read more backlist books. I’ve got lots on my TBR. I won’t limit my reading to just backlist though.

    • Quite a few readers like the idea of reading more backlist books even if that is not all they read. I plan to do a post a month where we can share in the comments what backlist books we have read. I am also working on some other ideas too.

  3. I’m in too! I have so many thrifted and second-hand store books that I haven’t read. However, a good portion of my “reading” each year is audiobooks from the library through the Overdrive app which I listen to while cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc. so I’ll definitely continue with that. Also, I really like your idea of making an Amazon future booklist/wishlist to prevent impulse purchases.

    • I am so glad that I have readers that want to do the backlist challenge with me. It will be fun to find some new favorites. I plan to do a monthly post where I share what I read and readers can share what they read as well. I listen to some audiobooks, but my husband loves them. He listens to a lot of audiobooks each year. It is a great way to get more books in. I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

  4. I like this idea! I have already set 60 books as my Goodreads Challenge for 2021, but now I’m thinking about merging it with your challenge. Like you, I have a giant TBR pile, so I think this challenge is a great way to decrease that pile.

    • I love that readers are excited about this challenge. 60 books is a great challenge and one that you could easily merge with a backlist book challenge. I don’t like challenges that are too strict. That is why I love my backlist book challenge. Hopefully, it will encourage me to read my TBR pile and also help me focus on older books instead of the newer releases that everyone is talking about. I am planning to post an update tomorrow on what I have read so far this year.


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