Backlisting

One of the weird things about being a book reviewer is that you generally end up leaving backlists, well, in the back. You’re all about that shiny new frontlist, desperately wanting books announced for 2020 and already over the hype of titles that actually haven’t even come out yet, but that you got to read early because #bookbloggerprivileges (there aren’t a ton; let us have this hipster pride, okay). For the first few years I was blogging somewhat successfully (which discounts the first couple years when I was blogging to myself and my audience of roughly just me), the only backlist titles I read were parts of series, so that I could read the latest title.

As a young person, though, my reading philosophy was to find an author I liked and then exhaustively read through all their books in publication order. I started missing that old me, and in the last couple of years, I’ve been making an effort to get back to working through author backlists.

I think this is pretty common in people who read a lot but aren’t in publishing or publishing-adjacent (i.e. book bloggers/vloggers/etc.), but I’m curious if I’m wrong about that. Do any of you guys do this too?

For example, in case it’s not apparent, I spent the last year but mostly the last month reading Sarah Dessen’s complete works (listen, the first few were rough and it took me months but then you hit a certain point and they’re all great so whoosh, done!) in publication order. Sometimes I bend a little on the publication order thing, but I do prefer it.

Of course, there’s a dark side to doing this, because a lot of author’s early books are not so great, especially if you went into the backlist because their most recent books were FUCKING AWESOME. Like, Courtney Milan’s and Tessa Dare’s first couple series both are massively WTF. I wouldn’t pick on them if I weren’t a massive fan willing to defend their genius, but…

In some ways though, I even like struggling through those early books that I don’t like. If I’m obsessed enough with an author’s writing, I like to see the way they grew through their career, and it’s heartening to know that they can begin with problematic cliches and end up writing innovative shippy magic. It’s a process.

Backlist Domination

You guys, it’s actually reallllly difficult to keep up with an author’s publications, especially if you read a lot of romance, because they often publish 1-2 a year. This list may not be comprehensive because there was no good way to look this up on GR, but these are the authors I came up with where I’ve either read all published novels OR all but the latest book. Because, honestly, even I need a little time.

Note: I’m only counting authors with at least five books out or I’d have a million on here.

Dahlia Adler:

Books read: 6 out of 6

Favorite: Just Visiting

Leigh Bardugo:

Books read: 6 of 7

Favorite: Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom

Have Yet to Read: The Language of Thorns

Robin Benway:

Books read: 5 out of 6

Favorite: Emmy & Oliver

Have Yet to Read: Far from the Tree

Tessa Dare:

Books read: 15 out of 15 (16 pictured because the next one’s out in August)

Favorite: When a Scot Ties the Knot made me laugh the hardest, but One Dance with a Duke or Do You Want to Start a Scandal for shippiness

Susan Dennard:

Books read: 5 out of 6

Favorite: So far, maybe Strange and Ever After, but The Witchlands is going to blow that out of the water

Sarah Dessen:

Books read: 13 out of 13

Favorite Book: What Happened to Goodbye or Saint Anything

Miranda Kenneally:

Books read:8 out of 8

Honorable Mentions:

I’m a few books behind or more, but I’m going to catch up. In Kristoff’s and Winters’ case, I’ve read the most recent book but missed the one before. I’ll catch up but I don’t know if I will this year. And, bear with me because I got TOO DAMN TIRED to put covers up for everything. It’s too much, and I’m too old.

Rachel Aaron/Bach:

Books read: 11 out of 13

Favorite: Fortune’s Pawn

Have Not Yet Read: The last two Heartstrikers books

Jennifer Crusie:

Books read: 17 out of 20

Favorite: Welcome to Temptation and Bet Me

Have Not Yet Read:

Jay Kristoff:

Books read: 8 out of 9

Favorite: Illuminae and Gemina

Have Not Yet Read:

Tahereh Mafi:

Books read: 4 of 5

Favorite: Furthermore

Have Not Yet Read: Whichwood

Courtney Milan:

Books read: 11 out of 13

Favorite: The Duchess War

Have Not Yet Read: Cyclone

Julia Quinn:

Books read: 17 out of 30

Favorite: Because of Miss Bridgerton

Have Not Yet Read: Lady Whistledown, Bevelstoke, Two Dukes of Wyndham, Smythe-Smith Quartet, Lady Most…

Kasie West:

Books read: 7 out of 8

Favorite: The Fill-In Boyfriend

DNFed: Lucky in Love (otherwise, this would make top list, but clearly I’m not at peak obsession level)

Cat Winters:

Books read: 5 out of 6

Favorite: The Uninvited

Have Not Yet Read: Yesternight

Conclusions

What I find interesting about actually writing out this list is that it’s not necessarily always my favorite authors (though some of these are), but it’s very much about the genres they’re writing. And Mafi was actually an accident? I’m much more likely to binge romance (shocking, I know). I’m sure I’ve forgotten a bunch, but I can always do another post. :-p

11 responses to “Backlisting”

  1. This is SO AWESOME and IMPRESSIVE… my mind is completely boggled by the amount of books you’ve managed to read, and in such a structured way!

    Honestly, despite the fact that I’ll have been blogging for 8 years come later this summer, I have never been especially pulled to blog exclusively on new releases, mainly because those aren’t the kinds of books I like to read. I have such a hard time dictating my own bookish whims anyways, I can’t imagine I’d get much reading done at all if I only managed newish titles… so I guess that my entire TBR pile is pretty much backlists, except for the few that earn enough hype to convince me to check them out of the library!

    Seriously, though, kudos on this amount of readerly dedication and organization skills. <3
    Savannah @ Playing in the Pages recently posted…My Year with Harry: Prisoner of AzkabanMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      It wasn’t so much that I felt like I should only blog about new releases, as I felt compelled to review every single review copy, which, even reading 200-300 books per year, meant I could basically only read review books. No surprise, that proved exhausting. If I don’t make time for backlist books, I won’t read them. The new ones can wait.

      Kudos back for not having gotten sucked in to the whole ARC madness and staying true to your love of backlist. I’m so happy to be back to my readerly roots!

  2. I love this! As I get more and more bored by hype and “over” blogging, I find backlisting is a major thing I am doing now. It feels pretty invigorating to just marathon authors I enjoy and read following whims rather than release dates,
    April Books & Wine recently posted…Under A Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye | Audiobook ReviewMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Same, girl! I never thought I’d be as unmotivated by ARCs as I am now. Like, they’re nice but I don’t really have the space for them anymore and then when I want to get rid of them, that’s such a pain. Marathoning something super great is the absolute best feeling. I’m still pretty regimented, but I’m a bit freer about what ends up on the list.

  3. This year I’ve been all about the backlist. I read, listen and review them. You not want is super cool? Seeing others readers add them to their TBR pile and devour them. Books are for loving whether the latest thing or an oldie but goodie.
    Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer recently posted…The Outsider by Stephen KingMy Profile

  4. Dahlia Adler says:

    Ohhhh I love this!! (And you for reading all my books, but that’s beside the point <3) And you and I are exact Miranda Kenneally twins, which I love 😀 I'm so excited for you to read FAR FROM THE TREE because while I am totally behind on my Benway reading, I think it's a definite contender for best, and I say that as someone who really loved both AUDREY, WAIT and EMMY & OLIVER.

    The author I most wanna do this with is Sarah Ockler – I still haven't read I think two of hers, but I own one and will buy the other and I really wanna have read all of her stuff. I still need to read Trish Doller's newest too, though she's not up to 5 yet… And in Romance, straight-up Rebekah Weatherspoon. I own so much of her stuff and I've read I think…4 of them? But there's so much more and I WILL GET THERE.
    Dahlia Adler recently posted…Announcing His Hideous Heart!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Hahaha, I had a feeling you’d comment on this post for some reason. 😉

      Frustrated as I am with the lack of diversity, I still need Kenneally to announce a new series or novel ASAP. I’m getting concerned. My favorite Benway so far is EMMY & OLIVER. The others I mostly liked but didn’t love. She’s been improving throughout though, minus the spy books, which are a bit off.

      …I actually have never read any Sarah Ockler. She’s been on my list since 2008 but it’s just never happened. I definitely own at least one of her books. I’ve actually read five by Doller, but the fifth one hasn’t been released (I read it a while ago so I’m not sure if it’s under a pen-name and I missed it or she hasn’t decided what to do with it), so I didn’t include her. I absolutely will read Rebekah Weatherspoon. I WILL. Where would you recommend starting?

      Also, were it not for the early genre fic, Santino Hassell would so be on this list. I need to read the sports ones ASAP.

  5. I also totally read like this when I was younger and the concept is so very appealing but I still keep myself from doing it, typically because my review pile is usually always lose to burying me. hahaha

    Good to know about Courtney Milan’s first one… I’ve had that on my TBR for ages but kept picking up her newer ones. Sounds like that’s for the best. I also don’t mind it so much though when their earlier works aren’t as good. It’s their later works that start getting shitty that really upsets me.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Something To Look Forward To – Week of June 25th, 2018My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      My review pile’s huge, though mostly consisting of egalleys now, which I feel a bit less guilty about. Though some of them are over a year old but whoops, I’ll try them someday. *insert shrug emoji here* I’m trying to give myself a bit more freedom on getting to those, because this is my hobby. And I’m also DNFing as much as I can. I’ve gotten pretty good about that, unless I’m being obsessive about an author’s backlist…which may kill some of the appeal for you haha.

      I love Milan, but her first couple series were both rougggggghhhhh. Some of the books were a bit problematic, and the ships just weren’t good. The historical aspects and plots are unique, but like hi this is a historical romance and I like that stuff but I’m here for the shippity ship. Totally agree that it’s only when they start getting worse that I’m really bothered. There’s something encouraging about knowing how poorly Milan, Dare, and Cabot started out and how amazing they are now.

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