2019 Backlist TBR

One of my 2019 reading goals is going to be spending less time on new releases and more time on backlist books that I neglected this year (that is, books published prior to 2018).  But, this is one of my reading goals every single year and I never end up able to resist the pull of new books.  So I decided to make this post to hold myself accountable.  I am most certainly going to read more backlist books than the ones I’m mentioning here, but these are just a few that I’m interested in, AND I already own all of them.  I’ve narrowed it down to 12, so I can conceivably read one a month which doesn’t feel too intimidating:

  1. Troubles by J.G. Farrell: This is a pretty seminal work of Anglo-Irish fiction that I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read yet.  I have no reason to believe I’m not going to adore this.  EDIT: ★★★★☆ | review
  2. A Natural by Ross Raisin: I don’t know much about this other than that it features a gay protagonist who plays football (soccer), and that a friend of mine loved it and recommended it to me very highly.  I included it on my last 5 star predictions post that I made way earlier this year, so I do want to get to this one sooner rather than later.  EDIT: ★★★★☆ | review
  3. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: I read my first Hardy a few months ago, Far From the Madding Crowd, and I really loved it and want to check out more of his writing.  I had a very in depth discussion with someone about whether to choose Tess of the D’Urbervilles next or Jude the Obscure, and she convinced me to choose Tess.  Incidentally, a lot of my close friends seem to really despise this book… so I’m a little scared but mostly convinced that I’ll like it.
  4. The Quiet American by Graham Greene: This one also featured on my 5 star predictions post, so this is definitely another one for the first quarter of 2019.  I haven’t read any Graham Greene before, but this seems like the kind of modern classic that’ll be right up my street.  EDIT: ★★★★☆ | review
  5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker: I mean, enough said.  I hate admitting that I haven’t read this book when it seems so short and accessible?  And I’m sure I will love this.  EDIT: ★★★★☆ | review
  6. The Persian Boy by Mary Renault: I read Fire From Heaven uhh… nearly two years ago?!  I loved it and had every intention of continuing this series, but that book also took me something like 4 months to read, so whenever I look at this one I’m a little intimidated.  But I need to just do it.  I think people have generally preferred The Persian Boy to Fire From Heaven anyway, so hopefully that’s also true for me.  But I don’t really mind either way, I just really love Alexander the Great and am eager to dive back into this series.
  7. The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch: 2018 was going to be the year that I read more backlist Man Booker winners, and… suffice to say, 2018 was not that year.  But maybe 2019 will be.  I’ve wanted to check out Murdoch for years.
  8. Cassandra by Christa Wolf: I adored Wolf’s take on Medea and I LOVE the character Cassandra and I’ll read just about any mythological retelling.  And Hannah raves about this.
  9. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: I just don’t know how I haven’t read this yet.  The Secret History is probably one of my top five favorite books of all time.
  10. No Bones by Anna Burns: After adoring Milkman by Man Booker winning queen Anna Burns I immediately added her two backlist books to my TBR.  I bought a copy of No Bones and it’s probably one of the titles on this list that I’m the most excited for.  But Milkman wasn’t exactly a quick, breezy read and I doubt this one will be either, which is why I didn’t dive straight into it when I bought it.  But soon.
  11. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov: I’m either going to love this or hate this and I don’t see myself falling anywhere in between.  But, I’ve wanted to give it a shot for ages, and I do love that cover.
  12. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeline Thien: I’ve been wanting to read this ever since it was shortlisted for the Booker in 2016 and I just never got around to it.  This seems 100% like my kind of book.

Have you guys read any of these, and what did you think?  And what are some backlist titles you’d like to read in 2019?  You should comment here with your list or make your own post and link to me so we can all hold each other accountable.  2019 is gonna be the year of the backlist!

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36 thoughts on “2019 Backlist TBR

  1. There is a challenge called “Beat the Backlist” that you could join up with to hold yourself even more accountable, if you haven’t heard of it before. They even have a little mini-challenge. I absolutely adore “The Color Purple” and highly recommend it. I have the same problem with unread backlist books, so you are in good company 😉

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    • I have heard of that! I find that I only get more stressed if I try to commit myself publicly to too many reading challenges, so for now I’m going to keep my accountability more small-stakes. But that’s great that so many of us have a common goal. I’m SO excited about The Color Purple!

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  2. I also still need to read The Goldfinch after loving The Secret History! And I’ve got an unread copy of Tess that I’m intrigued to give a go. I’ll be interested to see your review of No Bones. The Color Purple is incredible… What a great list!

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    • Ooh yay I’m glad to hear that! I really hope I’ll also love it and now I’m even more excited to get to it. I love The Secret History SO MUCH, as you will see it’s a very ‘me’ book since it deals with classics/antiquity and unlikable characters and is set where I live 😂 so I’m a little biased with that one but I really hope you love it!

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  3. I made a beat the backlist 2018 TBR earlier in the year but I made it far too long so it wasn’t achievable. I definitely want to do more backlist reading this year again but I might have to take a leaf out of your book and choose an achievable amount of books! The Color Purple is amazing, I hope you enjoy it when you read it!

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    • That’s what I was thinking – the amount of unread books on my shelves is just absurd but if I put too many in a single post I know it’ll just freak me out too much. I hope assigning myself one per month is going to work. I’m VERY excited about The Color Purple, I think that’ll be one of the first ones I read. Good luck with your own 2019 backlist reading!

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  4. Cassandra is the best! (I do worry about over-hyping it too much but then again it is my all-time favourite book, so I just cannot stop myself. For what it’s worth, most people do tend to prefer Medea)
    I really really love The Master and Margarita and I hope you do too. I bought myself a German translation of the book a while ago and haven’t yet picked it up. Ah well, 2020 it is, I guess.

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    • That’s ok, I would be VERY surprised if I didn’t love it, hype or no hype. I mean, I love the character and I already know I love Wolf’s writing so I think this is going to end well.

      I am very excited for The Master and Margarita! I have heard it’s very weird, and weird tends to be really hit or miss for me, but I am so intrigued. And I really need to read more Russian lit in general.

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  5. Baffled. Tess. The throwaway that people dislike it. I read it only maybe two years ago, yes it’s of a period, but it’s a solid work.
    Why is it reviled? It is just because it’s not modern, and has a much older style?
    There’s a scene in a field with a steam thresher and the farm labourers looking on, skewed by technology. So incredibly modern a theme and delicately done. Tess herself, at the sharp end of the patriarchy that Hardy himself had to step out out, and he does…
    Why do people hate this work?
    I’m happy for people to have the Web to express their opinions but those opinions aren’t free, they should always be defended and justified.

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    • I think it’s fair to draw a line between ‘this wasn’t to my personal taste’ and ‘this is objectively bad.’ Among my friends who have disliked it I get the impression that they aren’t fond of pastoral writing, which certainly isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of books I’ve disliked while still seeing some kind of literary value in them, and I’m sure the same goes for Tess with the people I know who have disliked it. I certainly don’t want to make any assumptions about why someone likes or dislikes a book without hearing their reasoning first.

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    • Thank you! I am SO excited for No Bones. I also totally unnecessarily bought myself a copy of Milkman this weekend since I’d read it on my Kindle and figured that’s a book worthy of owning the physical copy if I’ve ever read one!

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