The Backlist Reader Challenge 2021: Rules & Sign-up

December 18, 2020 Challenges 25

The Backlist Reader Challenge 2021 (header)

The Backlist Reader Challenge 2021

Is your TBR pile threatening to topple over? Does your Goodreads to-read shelf have hundreds of books on it? Then join the club — or rather, the challenge!

I don’t know about you, but my Goodreads to-read shelf has over a thousand books on it, and that’s not counting the books on my “someday” list. Nearly half of them are already on my Kindle or sitting around the house on shelves and in piles; some others are library books I hope to borrow eventually.

The Backlist Reader Challenge (#BacklistReader) encourages us to read all those older books that have been piling up on our TBR piles or lists. And by “older,” I mean books that came out before 2020 (in other words, in 2019 or earlier.)

The challenge runs from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. It ends at midnight in whatever timezone you’re in. You can still post reviews, and link them, up until January 5, 2022, but only for books you finished reading in 2021.


The Rules

Rule #1: To count for the challenge, books have to be published before 2020 AND already be on your TBR list or pile. 

In other words, you don’t have to own the book. If it was on your want-to-read list when you signed up for the challenge, and it came out in 2019 or earlier, it counts… regardless of format (ebook, print book, audiobook) and regardless how or where or when you acquired it. Library books totally count, as long as you had the book on your want-to-read list before you signed up for the challenge.

What does”TBR list” or “to-read” list” mean, exactly? It means whatever you use to keep track of the books you want to read. If that’s a shelf or a pile of physical books, great. If it’s the “to-read” shelf on Goodreads, also fine. If you keep a spreadsheet on your computer or a list in a notebook or a “for later” list in your library account, those work too. Just as long as you have something to keep track of what you want to read, but haven’t read yet. (In my experience, most book-lovers have a to-read list of some sort, somewhere.)

Do rereads count? Personally, I love rereading familiar books, and in any given year, at least a third of my reading is rereads. But… Back when I first created this challenge, the goal was to encourage myself to read books I hadn’t ever gotten around to reading. On the other hand, there are some books on my TBR list that I read a long time ago but want to reread, because I can barely remember them. So here’s the compromise I came up with: you can only count a book you have read before IF (a) you haven’t read the book in the last 10 years, and (b) you can’t remember much about it.

Rule #2: Create a goals or sign-up post on your blog

…or wherever you usually post your reviews or your thoughts about a book (e.g., Goodreads, LibraryThing, Instagram, Facebook.) Please link back to this post! Then link your sign-up post below, where you see the “Add your link” button. (Please link your actual goals/sign-up post, not your home page.)  You can set your own goal, and you can list the books you want to read this year, or leave it up to your mood at the time—as long as they are already on your TBR list when you sign up! You can sign up through December 1, 2021; after that, the sign-up link will be closed.

Rule #3 (optional): Review the books you read for the challenge, and post your links on the review linky

 After Jan. 1, 2021, I’ll post a page with the review linky widget and link it here; you’ll also be able to get to it from the top menu bar. You can certainly do the challenge without writing reviews, but the review links are your entries for the year-end giveaway. Reviews don’t have to be long; a few sentences is fine. If you don’t have a blog, you can post them on Goodreads or LibraryThing or even on your Facebook or Instagram. Please link to your review itself (not to your blog’s main page, your profile, or the book’s main Goodreads or LibraryThing page.) If you’re not sure how to find that link, email me and I’ll walk you through it.

Rule #4: Before January 5, 2022, create and link a wrap-up post 

Let us know how you did! I’ll create a link-up post like this one for the wrap-up posts, so you can share your achievement with others who are participating!

Show your support for other participants

Please support other members of The Backlist Reader Challenge by reading and commenting on their reviews, found in the review linky. This isn’t a rule, and you don’t have to check out every review on the list, but please try to visit a few every time you post a review of your own. Your fellow readers will appreciate it!


What else you need to know

There will be at least one giveaway: a $15 Amazon gift certificate (US), or up to that amount in books from Book Depository (as long as they deliver to your country.)  The winner will be chosen from the review links at the end of the year, using a random number generator.

You will find the review linky on the top menu bar in early January, with a link from the sidebar as well. The review linky will stay open through 11 p.m. EST on January 5, 2021, to give you a couple of days to review any books you finished on December 31.

Social media: Please use #BacklistReader on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else hashtags are useful!

Go find those older titles you still haven’t gotten around to, and make 2021 the year you finally read them!


Grab the Button!

The Backlist Reader Challenge 2021

Copy and paste the code below into your post and/or sidebar:

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Sign-Up Post Links

For sign-up links only! Please don’t post review links here. Use the review linky once it goes live.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

25 Responses to “The Backlist Reader Challenge 2021: Rules & Sign-up”

  1. Vi @Inkvotary

    Hi Lark,

    guess it happened by accident that the title of this post (right underneath the picture) says “The Backlist Reader Challenge 2020” *smile*
    Guess I am joining in again.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      *facepalm* It’s been a year. Boy, has it been a year.

      I copied last year’s post and used it as a starting point. I thought I had caught all the 2020 references, but I guess not. Thank you — I’ll fix it! And welcome aboard. I’m glad you’re joining in again.

  2. Nicci @ Sunny Buzzy Books

    I’ve been debating challenges for next year as I really bite off more than I could chew this year… A backlist challenge is always good though as I have so many I need to get through! (And, yes, I have a list 😉 )
    I’ll see how my mood plays out but I think I may be joining you on this one!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I’d love to have you join us in this challenge, Nicci! I completely understand the bit-off-more-than-I-could-chew feeling; I did the same. I’m cutting way back on challenges this year, but I still really need this one.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Terrific! You are most welcome here. Also—I love the blurb under your blog name. “Pillaging the public library so you don’t have to”!

  3. Jen

    First timer and I’m looking forward to it. I literally just launched my blog on Wednesday night (and it’s not book focused) so I’m still trying to get things going and carve out a reading space on it. It’ll be a bit before I can do a proper link to a page so I haven’t officially signed up yet but I will!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Congratulations on your new blog, and welcome to the challenge! Let me know when you post your sign-up post, so I can come say hi. 🙂

  4. Jennifer M

    I’m in, but I’m new to GoodReads as of this week. Plan on making a shelf for my reads. Hopefully I sent the right link! Thanks for hosting!

  1. The Backlist Reader Challenge — update and sign-up – BookWyrm Knits

    […] Here’s Lark’s official announcement and sign-up post for the 2021 Backlist Reader Challe…. Before starting this review, I was not planning any specific amount of backlist books that I want to read, just “lots.” I guess since I hit 17% without really trying last year, it would be a good (and hopefully achievable) goal to aim for 25% of my 2021 reads being backlist books. Since the books I have set as my personal Top TBR reading goal for 2021 are all from the very earliest pages of my (physical) TBR list, they will qualify for the official challenge requirements just fine. […]