It’s not uncommon for me to have a stack of review books taller than the length of my arm waiting to be read at any given time. And that’s saying something because I have a wingspan of Jurassic proportions. This stack keeps me preoccupied for months at a time, during which I rarely, if ever, touch a backlist book from my other shelves or make a trip to the library.
Summer is the one exception. I’m usually away from home for anywhere from one to four months each summer bleeding into autumn, and I use this as an opportunity to forget about all those unread review books, make use of the exceptional library I have available to me near my summer “base camp” (which is a thousand times better than my public library at home), and read the backlist books that have been on my TBR list for lord knows how long.
Many book bloggers have written about “ARC burnout,” or, that feeling of mental fatigue that seems to creep in when you’ve been reading too many “hot off the press” books. It’s an interesting phenomenon. I mean, backlist books were once “hot off the press” too. It’s not like there’s a marked difference between books published in 2017 and books published in 2012. Or is there?
Last year was the first year I kept track of how many frontlist and backlist books I read. At the end of the year, I compiled lists of my top ten favorite books of 2016 and my top ten favorite backlist books that I read for the first time in 2016. The average rating I gave to the ten best frontlist books I read in 2016 was 4 stars. The average rating I gave to the best backlist books was 4.4 stars. Why the discrepancy? I put just as much care and thought into selecting which frontlist books to read as I do with backlist books, but it seems that I am more likely to be disappointed by a frontlist title than I am by something that’s been around a bit longer.Do you prefer reading new or backlist book? Chime in with your thoughts!Click To Tweet
I’m not sure why this happens but I do have a few theories. First, when I select frontlist books, all I have to go on is the synopsis. With backlist books, I almost always check the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. If a book receives an average rating below 4 stars on Goodreads or 3.5 stars on Amazon, I’m a lot less likely to try it. Second, though I select frontlist books with great care, I am more likely to experiment and read something outside my comfort zone. During my summertime backlist binge, I usually reach for books I think will fit the bill of “comfort read.” Finally, there are a lot more backlist titles to choose from than frontlist titles. With greater choice comes a greater chance that I’ll choose a book I really love.
I try to read a roughly even number of frontlist and backlist books in any given year, though, despite the looming review stack, backlist seems to win out more often than not (due in no small part to the audiobook factor). It will be interesting to see how frontlist titles fare against backlist titles in the “best of” lists at the end of this year. In the meantime, I’m enjoyed my summer backlist repose.
Which do you have greater success with: frontlist or backlist books? Leave your answer in the comments below!