For the third year in a row, I joined the Beat the Backlist Challenge in 2021. Basically, the challenge is about reading books published before 2021. For the challenge, I set a modest target of 40 books; it was the same target I had in 2020. Thankfully, I was successful in hitting my target, in both years. It is no secret that I am a backlist reader after all. Of the 92 books I read in 2021, 71 books were backlists, which is four books more than my 2020 output of 67 books.

For the Beat the Backlist Challenge, I don’t simply set a target. I also prepared a list of backlist books that I resolve to complete for the year. In 2019, I had listed fifteen books. Unfortunately, I fell short of this target so I reduced my target to twelve books in the next two years. Thankfully, I managed to complete all these twenty-four books before the year ended. I generally enjoyed the books in my 2021 Beat the Backlist challenge list, such as Alan Paton’s Cry, The Beloved Country, and Charlotte Brontë’s Villette. However, there were some that fell short of my expectations. Nevertheless, I am glad that I came up with the list for I have crossed out several books that have been gathering dust in my bookshelves.

Here’s my 2021 Beat the Backlist challenge list:

What I missed out on was joining the Beat the Backlist Bingo. Nevertheless, I will try to check I fared in the bingo.

  1. More than one author None. I rarely read books written by more than one author.
  2. Multiple Points of View – Women Without Men by Shahrnush Parsipur
  3. First Line is Less than 10 Words – “Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton.” The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  4. Lost Royalty – None, unless A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles qualifies as a “lost” royalty
  5. On the indie Bestseller list in 2020 or earlierThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, bookseller in 2020
  6. WTF Plot TwistGo Set the Watchman by Harper Lee. Despite the caveats, I was really looking forward to the book. Sadly, it was not what I deemed it to be.
  7. Person on the CoverShuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
  8. Dragons or LizardsThe Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  9. Book you’re giving another chance – I don’t know for I rarely give second chances to books. Perhaps The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
  10. Banned bookNaked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
  11. Cover with your country’s flag colors – by slim margin, Crossing the Mangroves by Maryse Condé. The cover has shades of blue, red, gold, and white, the four colors that comprise the Philippine flag.
  12. Historical with a twistInsurrecto by Gina Apostol
  13. Second book in a duologyGo Set the Watchman by Harper Lee. However, I do agree with what many fellow readers have reiterated: this book can be read separately from To Kill A Mockingbird
  14. AnthologyNone
  15. It’s on a ship – There was none that was primarily set in a ship but some parts of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights were set on a cruise ship.
  16. Quest to find lost/hidden objectThe Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño, although what the “savage detectives” were looking for is not an object but an individual.
  17. Cover features your favorite color prominentlyWaterland by Graham Swift. My favorite color is blue.
  18. Written in letters or diary entriesThe Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif. The narrative was divided into two: the past and the present. The past was related through letters and journals by Lady Anna Winterbourne
  19. Character has a dream sceneA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens of course.
  20. Non-fairytale re-tellingNone. I only have Madeline Miller’s A Song of Achilles. Does it qualify as fairytale?
  21. Has a mapWatership Down by Richard Adams
  22. Purple coverAlmond by Won-Pyung Sohn
  23. Chapter title page has artCrossing the Mangrove by Maryse Condé
  24. All about musicUtopia Avenue by David Mitchel
  25. Set in autumnThe Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  26. From your 2020 backlist TBRThe Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. I planned to read the book back in 2019, and in 2020 as well.
  27. Book about bones or “bone” in titleNone
  28. Set in a major cityThe Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. The story was set in Paris, France.
  29. Kept you up late readingSecrets by Nuruddin Farah. It kept me late reading mainly because I was in a hurry to complete the book, which happens to be my 900th read novel.
  30. Characer lets out a breath they didn’t realize they were holdingSecrets by Nuruddin Farah. This book was riddled with secrets, and hidden agenda.
  31. Book centered around politicsBurger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer. Technicallly it is more about history but it touches base on the anti-apartheid movement.
  32. Based on non-Greek/Roman mythology – Unfortunately, Madeline Miller’s A Song of Achilles was based on Greek mythology.
  33. Book where the woods/forests are importantSatantango by László Krasznahorkai
  34. Good book, bad coverUmrao Jan Ada by Mirza Mohammad Hadi Ruswa
  35. Book you forgot you hadNone qualified I guess for I keep a tab of all the books I have. HAHA.
  36. Picked up by a friend/trusted reviewerNone. I guess because I don’t ask for recommendations that much.
  37. Genre you never/rarely readFlights by Olga Tokarczuk
  38. Features a carnival or circusNone. The last book I read that featured a circus or carnival was Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, way back in 2018.
  39. Non-binary protagonistReal Life by Brandon Taylor
  40. Black and whiteShuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
  41. Brings out the geek in youThe Librarian of Auschwitz y Antonio Iturbe I guess because it is also about books.
  42. Caused a major book hangoverA House in the Country by Jose Donoso
  43. Non-human characterLife of Pi by Yann Martel
  44. StandaloneKokoro by Natsume Soseki. Except for a couple of books, majority of the books I read in 2021 are standalones.
  45. Snake on the coverNone
  46. A book with illustrationsThe Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe. Drawings/illustrations were by Machi Abe
  47. NovellaKitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
  48. Bought it for the coverDrop City by T.C. Boyle
  49. Book written in verseNone
  50. Author has a book releaseing in 2021 – Elif Shafak. I read my second novel by the Turkish novelist, The Bastard of Istanbul, in 2021. Her latest novel, The Island of Missing Trees was released in May 2021.
  51. Includes a 2nd-person point of viewThe Old Man Who Read Love Stories by Luis Sepúlveda
  52. Mentions a pineappleNone. There might have been but I missed it.

And it seems I have not made any bingo. Better luck in 2022 I guess? After all, I have several books on my backlist still.