Discussion | Balancing the Backlist

balancing the backlist.jpg

It’s a constant struggle, trying to read all of the books on my TBR (which is an embarrassingly massive pile) AND all of the new books that come out each year. There are just too many. And sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough. I’m not keeping up with new releases as much as I want to. But I’m also not whittling down my stack of books that were released before this year (aka backlist books). In fact, my TBR pile is growing, mostly with pre-2017 releases. I think it’s at least twice my size. (This is especially dangerous since I live less than a hundred miles from a major fault line. If there’s an earthquake, my books could easily kill me.)

For the past two years, I’ve participated in the Mount TBR challenge, which has definitely helped motivate me to read more of the books that have been sitting on my TBR for a while. Which is great, because a lot of those books had the potential to sit on my shelf, unread, for years. But it doesn’t exactly help with all of the books – both old and new – that have been not-so-slowly accumulating on my shelves floor.

The problem is that there are way too many books that I want to read. Part of the issue is that I will read almost anything. I don’t limit myself to certain genres or authors or formats. I like fantasy and biographies and comics and history books. And that makes it harder, if not impossible, to both catch up on all the backlist books I want to read (after all, there are hundreds of years worth of them), AND keep track of all of the new books coming out.

If I read a new book, I feel guilty for ignoring my TBR. And if I read a book off my TBR, I feel like I’m missing out on all the new releases. This is especially difficult as a book blogger, because there’s pressure to keep up with all the new releases. It’s constant and annoying, and, short of tripling my reading pace, I’m not sure there’s a solution that will be completely satisfying.

I’m curious as to how other people (especially fellow book bloggers) deal with this. Do you feel pressure to keep up with new releases while still reading books from the backlist? Or do you just read what you want to read? Let me know in the comments!

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29 thoughts on “Discussion | Balancing the Backlist

  1. “Part of the issue is that I will read almost anything. I don’t limit myself to certain genres or authors or formats. I like fantasy and biographies and comics and history books.”
    Yay! I’m glad to have found someone else who reads almost anything 🙂

    I mostly ignore new releases … Not to say I read only ancient classics, just that I read what is in my current interest zone—so if it’s surrealism, I’ll pick up a number of related books, if it’s Borges, I’ll pick up more Latin American magical realism, if I’m into hardboiled detective novels I’ll read a whole sequence (including recent cyberpunk releases) … it helps me get into the mood of a certain type of writing, creating an ‘atmosphere’ in my imagination. Although, like I said above, I do read a lot of non-fiction and across genres (30+ books on the go), so I can switch away if I get saturated …

    My TBR is too long now for me to ever have a hope of reading it all. I just keep piling on the books and cycling through as quickly as I can.

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    1. Me too! I wish I could be better at ignoring new releases, because my TBR is insane. I love reading multiple books at once, too, because then I never get bored (although my max is around five or six). I’ve been trying to have some structure to my reading, but it’s definitely hard since I’m such a mood reader. And right now, I’m not in the mood for anything. Oh well.

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      1. I don’t force myself either—if I’m not in the right mood, I’m not in the right mood (although if there’s a reason I ought to read a certain book, I try to first get into the mood for it … it’s a roundabout process).

        But seriously, glad there are others who have multiple books on the go—it’s like having multiple worlds in your mind at the same time, right?

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        1. I do exactly the same thing (so many times in grad school I had to get myself in the mood to get through whatever I had to read).

          And yes, I completely agree with the multiple books thing. I try to read books of different genres at the same time, so I can pick up whatever I’m in the mood for.

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  2. I’m feeling pretty much the same as you. I end up ignoring my own personal TBR and reading mostly new releases from NetGalley and Edelweiss. I am really trying to request fewer titles so that I can work on my own TBR. It is hard – the new ones are so tempting, and I am weak.

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  3. There’s definitely a pressure with new titles. You want to read all the new releases so as to be up to date and not fall behind on the hype and generally the blogging community. But personally, I rarely read new releases. Most of the time I don’t have the money to buy all the new books and I also kinda do it on purpose? When a book is really hyped I get intimidated and I give it time to see if it’ll blow up yk. I think we shouldn’t feel bad for reading backlist and less new releases/ARCs.

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    1. I usually stay away from really hyped up books, which helps a lot with the new releases. I do buy a lot of books, but most of them aren’t new releases (which means my TBR is ginormous). I’ve gotten a bit pickier when it comes to new releases, too, but I need to keep working on that. Thanks!

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  4. Hello!
    Yes as book bloggers we constantly feel the pressure to read, read and read! However there is only so much time and energy we have to be able to keep up with our tbr. In my opinion we shouldn’t put so much pressure ourselves to read ALL the books on our tbr- there just isn’t enough time to do that. Reading should be fun because it is a hobby after all 🙂 if it is causing stress, then that defeats the purpose of a hobby. My approach is to just read whatever I feel like and forget about the rest of the tbr 🙂

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  5. I agree with Sophie. Reading should be fun, not a source of stress. If I randomly read or hear several good reviews about a book that’s already on my TBR list, I’ll usually move it to the top. I also don’t spend precious reading time on a book that isn’t keeping my attention.

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  6. I’ve never reviewed ARCs because I don’t really have the time, but I generally try to read at least a couple current books. But I think it’s definitely more important to just read what you like and feel like

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  7. This is an interesting topic. I mostly read backlist books as well, but every now and then a new release catches my eye, so I add it to my list! In general tho I usually prefer to let a book sink into the community for a while before buying it, to test how others feel about it. Not so much with indie books (those I tend to just grab randomly when they sound promising) but especially with YA releases, as they can often be seriously overhyped.

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    1. I need to get better at that. Though I am very wary of hyped up books, especially when they’re YA. I just read The Hate U Give, and was a bit worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype, but it did.

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  8. Very interesting topic. For me I definitely feel a pressure to try to keep up with new releases as well as trying to whittle down my TBR and backlist books. Like you say there are tons of books out there and I have series from so long ago I still want to try and read. There just isn’t enough hours in the day?! As much as I would love to say I just read what I want, I definitely think about it more. I try to give myself more room these days to decide what I want to read and sometimes I just do ‘go with it’ but also I am known to kick myself and make myself pick up a book because perhaps it will be better to review a newer release. Or it will be a more popular post so I need to read it? If you get me?

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  9. Oh I have no solution for you haha sorry! I absolutely struggle with the same thing. I want to read books in my TBR stack but then my blog feels like it’s lagging behind on new releases and ugh it can stress me out sometimes! Eventually I got fed up and decided that I’d read whatever caught my interest in that moment. I want my blog to be a success but I also don’t want it to turn into a source of stress for me. It’s supposed to be a fun place to share my thoughts on books and that’s how I want it to stay. And sometimes even if I post a review on a book that came out years ago there will still be people commenting on it or saying how they liked/disliked it or that that book was sitting on their own TBR shelf and they had forgotten about it until they saw my post. So no matter what I post I figure there’s always at least one person who might be interested. It’s too much to try and consider the whole world, so instead I’ll just focus on good books. 🙂

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    1. Thanks! I’m the same way. I (mostly) blog for myself. I like sharing books I love with other people, and it’s mostly fun. However, it can definitely become a source of stress, because I put a lot of pressure on myself. With a full-time job, it’s gotten difficult to keep up (which is why I’m responding to three days worth of comments at the moment). It’s hard to balance everything, but I don’t think there is a perfect solution.

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  10. The only TINY bit of advice I can share, as a blogger and book hoarder myself, is that about once every 3 or 4 months, I do a book culling. I gather the books that I have read and KNOW that I am not going to read again. I gather the ARCs that I didn’t ask for and am not interested in, and the books I DNF’d. Sometimes it’s up to 100 books. Then I donate them to our Little Free Library, or I give them to friends. My library is still overflowing with things I need to read but at least I can move my elbows a little.

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    1. That’s a good idea! I’ve been slowly gathering a pile to drop off at my neighborhood’s little free library (hopefully they all fit). And I’m planning on doing a huge donation when I move, since I figure it’ll be easier to sort through the books as I pack.

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  11. This is a great discussion post, Stephanie 🌸
    It is really hard sometimes to keep up with everything! I have tons of backlisted books that I want to read because I’ve heard they’re amazing, but then I also want to read new books and I fear that if I don’t I’ll just be missing out!

    I have however come to release that I read more books and enjoy more books when I read what I want, when I want. By doing that I place no pressure on myself and I enjoy what I read plus that new release will still be there in a couple of months, it might just be slightly older by then. I also think reading more than one book at a time definitely helps with reading more in the long run.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! I usually end up picking up new releases right away, but most of them sit on my shelf for months (or years) before I get to them. I’ve gotten better about requesting ARCs, so that helps. But even keeping up with backlist books is hard. I guess that’s just part of being a reader/book blogger.

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  12. The TBR of books I own is ridiculous. I feel like I am trying so hard to stay current, and that makes me ignore the books I own. I started making my weekly TBR a mix of ARCs and backlist books, and this has been a great thing for me. My reviews for backlist books don’t have to be full out reviews and it gives me that mental break, which improves the quality of my review book reviews. I also do a million reading challenges, and my thing is to complete the challenge without buying new books for it. Therefore, I am forced to comb through my backlist for a book that fits.

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