Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly discussion series hosted by Rukki @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. This week’s topic was suggested by…me! Anyway, you can’t *not* do your own topic, so I’m back from a long hiatus, and hopefully here to stay. (Though with a caveat––I’m taking some rather demanding classes this semester 😅)
There’s a lot to be said for reading books as they come out. Series hype! Supporting debut authors where it counts! Publishing buzz! The ever-rewarding boon of relevance! Fancy book box editions! (Not my thing, personally, but, by all means, if sprayed edges and reversible dust jackets are your thing––go nuts.)
But, as this seems to be the prevailing mode in online bookish circles, allow me to offer a path I find just as rewarding: walk into a public library and get your hands on a book from 2012. And not a bombastic bestseller that’s still in print, either: something by a midlister you’ve never heard of, with a modest amount of reviews on Goodreads, showing every sign of having all but disappeared off the face of the Earth.
That––as often as Publishers Weekly announcements, online hype, and table displays, if not more––is how I find my new favorite books. (I suspect it has a lot to do with the library part. I was raised wandering in and plucking anything/everything off the shelves, and I paid hardly any attention to publishing years until I started daydreaming about my own. Watch out, 2032! Or, at this rate, 2045.)
For one thing, there’s an immense pleasure to be found in delving back into past years and finding buried treasure. What I love about 2012 (and 2014, and 2017) is that it’s like tasting the other treats at the bakery that makes your favorites. I’ll see The Lunar Chronicles in Stitching Snow and Strange the Dreamer in A Crown of Wishes. And if you miss dystopians, as I do, there are hundreds––nay, thousands––of attempts at the next Hunger Games waiting for you in the archives. (If you’re a fan of witchy contemporary fantasy, may I suggest young adult from between 2016 and 2018? Or, if space YA is more your speed, releases from the summers of 2015 to 2018?)
Also, just incidentally, if you buy books, it’s entirely likely that you buy more than you can get to in a given year, and you probably have works from 2014 onwards sitting untouched on your shelf. That’s how I wound up devouring Snow Like Ashes in a single day. All too often, I think, our occasional failures in promptness can become a source of shame. But you bought those books for whenever (and if-ever) you feel called to read them! The last thing you need is book-guilt telling you it’s too late to get in on the Sawkill Girls action: seriously, Claire Legrand is a treasure, and once you read that, you absolutely have to pick up her 2012 romp The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls.
While it’s totally natural to lose interest in books you bought years ago, it is never, strictly speaking, “too late” to enjoy a 2009-era paranormal with a love triangle. You have my full permission.
And, on that note, I should admit that I feel a little bad for those 2009-era paranormals, if only because there’s something disheartening about how quickly things become old news in our media landscape. Movies from 2018 that no one talks about anymore, music that’s seen its day and faded, bookish copycats for phenomena long past––these places are where I turn when I’ve had enough of the scramble for the next big thing.
I’ll admit, too, that my backlog reading comforts me as a writer. Should I ever be lucky enough to publish something, it will, more likely than not, be largely ‘forgotten’ in short order. But once my distant debut year passes, I can find solace in the fact that someone, somewhere, will still pick it up and read it every now and then.
Thank you for reading! How do you feel about new releases vs. the backlist? Do you have a preference? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below 💕