Another reading year is done. Last year, things started to go back to normal, albeit slowly. After being wrapped up in virtual darkness for two years due to the pandemic, offices, shops, and even tourism are all slowly resuming. Workers are returning to the office. Public transportation is again starting to fill to the brim, albeit not yet to pre-pandemic levels. It is evident how everyone has the itch to resume their pre-pandemic lives. I guess I was among them. Last year, I finally got to travel, by plane. It was my first plane ride in over two years. I am also back to being an office boy as my new employer requires all of its employees to report to the office. Daily. I did kinda miss the camaraderie in the office.

Reading-wise, 2022 has been very productive. Very productive indeed as I managed to achieve many things I never thought I ever would. First, I was able to complete reading 103 books, the first time that I breached the three-digit mark since I started reading. This was totally unexpected. This also means that I am getting closer to my 1000th novel. s of date, I am just three books shy of achieving this milestone. It also means that my day of reckoning with James Joyce’s Ulysses is getting closer. HAHA. I am both excited and intimidated.

Another accomplishment I made last year was the publication of over one hundred book reviews. This is the most I published in a year. I also crossed the 400 mark in terms of reviews published. I have achieved several milestones and I couldn’t be prouder of myself. On another note, I have repeatedly mentioned that I am a Backlist type of reader. This is also evident in my choice of books I read. However, in the past few years, I tried to incorporate more “new” books in my reading journeys. I must say I have been successful, slightly at least. For three years in a row, I read over at least 15 “new” books. I am also currently in the midst of reading catchup as I have been reading works released in 2022.

But let’s go back to me being a backlist reader. Over the past few years, I have joined the Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge. I have been successful in this challenge as I manage to go above and beyond my reading target. 2022 was no exception as I managed to read 87 backlist books, 37 books higher than my target of 50 books. I was also able to read all fifteen books I specially listed for my 2022 Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge. This was the first time I listed fifteen books. But despite making vast progress in my backlist reads, I still find myself swamped in backlist reads.

As has now become an integral part of my annual reading journey, I am listing myself up again for the 2023 edition of the Beat the Backlist reading challenge. This challenge was brought to life by Austine Decker. Essentially, the challenge is about ticking off older books from your to-be-read list. The books can be of any genre, format, or length.

The Rules

The Beat the Backlist challenge has one goal: helping you show your TBR who’s boss. There were no changes in the rules, which remain to be simple:

1. For a book to count, it must be published in the previous year or earlier. In 2023, that means that anything published in 2022 or earlier is fair game.
2. You have to start AND finish the book in 2023. 
3. And that’s very much it!

Everything beyond that is optional and all for fun! Please note that books of any format and of any genre will count. Re-reads will also count. It is also not necessary to own the book.

My Goal and Goal Tracking

I want to up the ante and raise my total target for the year from 50 books to 60 books. If the past three years were any indicator, I can easily hit 50 books, 60 even. This is, I guess because I have been working from home. While I can do beyond 60 books, I want to set a target that is conservative, a target that is realistic. For the purposes of this reading challenge, I am enumerating, not just 15 but 20 books that I resolve to read no matter what the circumstances may be. Most of these books were published from way beyond and I bought them in 2021 or earlier.

Here’s my 2023 Beat the Backlist challenge list:

  1. RAISED FROM THE GROUND by José Saramago c
  2. THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN by Thomas Mann a b c
  3. ELIZABETH COSTELLO by J.M. Coetzee a c
  4. WE WERE ORPHANS by Kazuo Ishiguro c
  5. PALACE OF DESIRE by Naguib Mahfouz c
  6. BUDDING WITHIN THE GROVE by Marcel Proust
  7. THE GUERMANTES WAY by Marcel Proust
  8. THE LAW OF LOVE by Laura Esquivel
  9. STATE OF WAR by Ninotchka Rosca b
  10. ROOM by Emma Donoghue b
  11. THE DAY OF THE OWL by Leonardo Sciascia b
  12. THE SWAN THIEVES by Elizabeth Kostova b
  13. THE ROSE AND THE YEW TREE by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
  15. HOUSE OF NIRE by Morio Kita b
  16. ULYSSES by James Joyce a b
  17. SONG OF SOLOMON by Toni Morrison a c
  18. THE LEOPARD by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa a
  19. THE ZENITH by Duong Thu Huong
  20. SOMEONE ELSE’S GARDEN by Dipika Rai

a 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die – 5
b 2023 Top 23 Reading List – 7
c Nobel Laureate in Literature – 6

I am setting a lofty target for myself it seems! HAHA. After all, these challenges are meant to push us beyond our boundaries. Success cannot always be guaranteed. Nevertheless, I am hoping I get to finish all these books. There is also a reason why I cross-marked it with my other reading challenges. Apart from these books, I am also looking at finishing succeeding books in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, something that I have been meaning to do for the past few years. It has been more than four years since I read the first book in the popular series. It is about time to read the rest.

An extra feature of 2023 Beat the Backlist Challenge is the reading prompt. Please note that this is optional and is just meant as a guide. I used the 2022 prompt and while I missed out on some, I managed to bingo, three times. Below is the reading prompt in Bingo Format.

To help track my progress, I have downloaded the Reading Tracker Spreadsheet:

How about you fellow readers, what books are you planning to remove from your unread pile? Share it in the comment box or draw your own list, and don’t forget to tag me.