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Chapter 22 - The Backlist

What do I mean when I say a title is backlisted? Backlisted titles are books kept in print over several years as opposed to a book newly published. With as many over 4 million books published yearly (2022 statistics) it is almost impossible to read them all. Often some title catches the eye of a celebrity and it becomes common knowledge but for every available bookstore shelf space, there are 100 to 1,000 or more titles competing for that shelf space.

Books which have been viewed favorably by sales figures and published reviews are often kept on a publisher's backlist and maintained on bookseller shelves. But, I want you to think about all the books you see in the bargain section of your favorite big box bookstore. These are the ones which didn't make the cut even though they are very worthy reads. Often these books are by new, unproven authors or even books written by favorite authors that didn't get the attention the author's other books have.

Here are some backlisted books which are worth a read. Good news is that you may be able to find them in the bargain shelves or even at your favorite used book store.

The Garden of Small Beginnings (2017) by Abbi Waxman - Waxman has a great way of telling a story and most of her books feature people trying to do their best as they face difficult times. In this one Lilian Girvan is struggling with life as a single parent after her husband died in a car accident three years ago. She finally feels capable of getting her kids to school and herself to work but she is bored with her life. At work she is assigned a job of illustrating boutique vegetable seeds so her boss signs her up for a gardening class. What she learns and who she meets are the meat of this story delivered in Waxman's humorous yet compassionate way.

Better Luck Next Time (2021) by Julia Claiborne Johnson - Be Frank With Me was Julia Claiborne Johnson's previous book and it was quite enjoyable. This one is about a dude ranch in 1938 Reno, Nevada where women go to establish residency for a quick and easy divorce. Of course while establishing their six week residency all sorts of things can happen. This book will remind you of some of the great rom-coms from the 30's and 40's.

This is Where I Leave You (2010) by Jonathan Tropper - This was made into a movie but, of course, the book is much better. When a family sits shiva for their recently dead father, there is all sorts of dysfunction, old grudges resurface, and secrets are revealed. Judd, the oldest of the group, is missing his wife, Jenn, at the shiva as she has recently has an affair with Judd's boss. Suddenly Jenn returns announcing she is pregnant and the week continues to spin out of control. This is a funny satire about love, marriage, divorce, family and death.

Musical Chairs (2021) by Amy Poeppel - Bridget and Will are best friends and for years were part of a chamber group called The Forsythe trio. While Gavin, the third in the trio has gone on to individual fame, Bridget and Will have learned to be content with their modest success. Bridget has plans on spending the summer with her boyfriend Sterling but when Sterling breaks up with her in an email, her 20-something kids decided to come home for the summer, and her father announces he is getting remarried, Bridget pulls out all the stops to host the wedding at her run-down home and to bring The Forsythe Trio back into the limelight. This is a funny book about relationships and how what you get may not be what you wanted or planned, but might just be what you needed.

Any backlisted books you want to share? Do tell!


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