Should I read more current books?

Posted January 12, 2020 by Lory in discussions / 50 Comments



At this time of year there are loads of lists of favorite books from the previous year, and of titles anticipated for this one. I’ve generally not read most of the former, nor do I tend to immediately stuff the latter onto my already groaning TBR list.

I just do not keep up with the very most current releases. Over my six years of blogging I’ve been doing fewer and fewer reviews of new releases, as I felt too much stress and guilt associated with review copies. And usually I’m fine with that, but just now with the excitement associated with these “best of the year” lists, I feel a bit left out. Is there something the matter with me? Should I be trying to stay more up-to-the-minute with my book choices?

Like most people I crave novelty, but me, “new” is any book that has newly come across my radar, whether it’s one month old or 100 years old. I feel very contemporary if I read a book released within the last decade. And I confess that I actually like to give the hot new titles a year or more to settle, to prove their worth. By then, they seem to take their place more comfortably within the plethora of other books clamoring for attention.

How do you feel about reading current releases? Are they your jam, or are you indifferent? Am I missing something by not reading them?


Linked in the Book Blog Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction AddictionΒ andΒ Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!

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50 responses to “Should I read more current books?

  1. I’ve written a not-entirely-dissimilar post to this, albeit less thoughtful. (I was just asking if there were any new books people were looking forward to this year.)

    I think you should do what you like! I do find a lot of books get a bit overhyped on their releases, so generally it’s good to let them settle a bit. But if you like to talk about books, the moment they’re published is when a lot of other people are reading them, so there’s that. Sometimes if you wait, you forget about them (if you’re me, that is). And I do make exceptions for books by writers I really admire.

    • Yes, I think that’s the main thing for me, to join in the discussion that’s going on when lots of people are reading the same books. But I do not think my reading habits are going to change substantially, so I shall continue to lag behind and let the discussion come as it may.

  2. Nah, stick with reading what you like! If I read and review a new book, it’s because it’s a title or author I *want* to read – and often it can be a reprint or a new translation. I don’t keep up with (or even much like!) most modern novels. Plough your own furrow, bookwise, I say! πŸ˜€

  3. I don’t read end of the year lists, and generally don’t care what other people are reading except to find out if they think it’s any good. As the years of book blogging go by, I wonder more if there are many readers left and why I continue to do this, so there is the possibility that I’m missing something about relevance and writing on the internet.

    • Why indeed? I keep going because it helps me clarify my own thoughts. What exactly I’m reading matters less than the effort involved. So I suppose I should focus on that and not worry about irrelevant questions.

  4. Exactly. It depends on how you define “current”. I mean, if someone says it means about politics or pressing issues of the day, or even people in the news, that’s current, but I’m not going to read it. Current can also mean recently released, which can run the gamut of any genre you can think of – and I read lots of those books (thanks NetGalley and Edelweiss). And current can also be an author or a title you haven’t heard of before.

    • In this case I mean “released within the current calendar year.” But yes, for me anything that comes into my awareness feels current to me!

  5. I have read more “current” books since I’ve had NetGalley but certainly not exclusively. As in ones about to be published. I tend to avoid books that are hyped, which often keeps me away from the very modern, trendy ones.

    • I’ve just decided I have to stay away from NetGalley, it’s too tempting to over-request! I do have plenty of books to work through without the allure of those coming attractions.

  6. I will admit, I began blogging to support my reading habit. I get a lot of books via NetGalley or Edelweiss, and therefore, I do read a lot of new releases. However, I didn’t return to pleasure reading until 2013, and there are so many backlist books I want to read. The solution for me was balance. I have been slowly incorporating more older titles into my weekly TBR, which is about 2/3 new releases at this point. My goal is to get it to 50/50 though.

  7. You probably already know my vote is no! πŸ™‚ I buy current releases for my work, and sometimes I read them, but mostly, by the time I get to a new book it’s on the backlist. I think that’s fine. I think I’m now at a point where I have to be a little more careful about what i select, because I will never, ever, ever get all the books read that I want to read. I’m not *very* careful — my eyes are usually bigger than my stomach — but I think it’s pretty common for time to do a little winnowing for us. If I tried to read every single new novel that makes a splash, I couldn’t do anything else.

    And then (as you may know) I sort donated books for the library booksale and see bestsellers of the past flow by in a stream. It’s easy for me to see now that I probably don’t need to read Eat, Pray, Love, but hm, here’s A Gentleman in Moscow…maybe that would be a good choice?

    • Yes, time is a great winnower. I think I should relax and consider that even after a few years go by there will still be people around to remember and talk about a book, if I want to.

  8. I don’t read current books unless it’s a non-fiction read in which case, I do. I’ve found on blogs when people read classics and current, they either go back to the classics, or their classic reads get 4-5 stars and their currents only get 2-3 stars. That speaks to me. I don’t mind reading something current now and then if it’s recommended and I can be pretty certain that it will be good, but otherwise I have a load of classics to get through!

    • Yep, classics are pretty reliably my most memorable reads, though there are exceptions in the current stream.

  9. I have been pondering the same question over the past year or so. I feel the same way. If I have not read a book before, then it is new. With that, over the last year or so, I have been reading more new releases over the past year. With that I still mostly read older books.


    So many books; so little time. My TBR pile consists of rooms and rooms of bookcases. Between rereading old favorites, new works by favorite authors and classic works I have been missing out on my whole life, it is hard to feel responsible for keeping up with all of the new authors.
    I am old. I take in a lot of literature with audiobooks while I am using my eyes for other things. I don’t do speed reading because I enjoy “chewing on” deep thoughts. I will have to accept that every book is not for me in this life.

  11. Hallo, Hallo,.. Lory!

    I’ve been trying to be more mindful of visiting the bloggers I’ve loved visiting in the past as the past several years (er, three?) have been harder hitting all the way round. With an easing of my chronic migraines, I can visit a bit more frequently again – as that was the hardest to circumvent when you get clustered migraines and/or have other health afflictions to combat whilst keeping your own blog surfacing.

    However, what implored me to visit if your topic of the hour – similar to what everyone else is speaking about – it depends on your own personal readerly inclinations and which stories are currently ‘speaking to your bookish soul’ – because no one can answer that question.

    It is similar to how my return to #TopTenTuesday became a very popularly read post on my blog recently – I was reflecting on the Top Best #NewToMeAuthors for 2019 – most were from Indie publishers, others were Self-Published and there were a few Major Trade titles in for good measure, too. Yet, what they all had in common was the *experience!* of what they gave me as a reader – the worlds I dipped my toes inside, the characters I felt hugged close too and the ways in which the stories themselves resonated with me as I reflected back on my best loved stories.

    I’m still assmembling my larger End of the Year Survey – releasing hopefully by the end of January – where I look at everything overall read, listened to and blogged – however, in this one post… what was more interesting to me is how *many!* new authors I’d discovered, which genres they were representing and of course, which publication route they took to get their stories into print (or audio).

    In the larger sense of your topic – it isn’t about modern lit vs Classical lit or any route of story inbetween – it is simply more simplistic than that — what in the here and now implores you to seek out to read? What is making you giddy and itchy to consume? Those are the stories beckoning to you and those are the stories which should be read ‘now’ rather than later.

    Just my twopence on the topic!

    • I sometimes feel left out at the current buzz of new titles, but for the most part they really aren’t my jam on the regular.

      Sometimes I’ll read a blog post of a title that interests me and pick it up. Lately, I
      have been browsing the current fiction section at the library and read inside cover. If it strikes me I might check the title on Goodreads.

      Funny you should post this, because I’ve read three current titles in the last two months and am feeling impressed with myself!

    • Welcome back Jorie and I’m so sorry about your migraines. I hope things are looking up there. I have struggled with them myself so I can sympathize.

      Yes, I should think more about the stories that are beckoning to me personally and less about what “everybody else” is doing. That is a great reminder!

  12. I’m the same, I don’t really go for brand new books. I’m not really a big book buyer, which is part of it. I really struggle with buying books I’ve not read before – because what if it’s not good enough to ever read again? At least with older books you’ve got the recommendation that they’ve stood the test of time.

    • Right, that is another factor — I don’t buy so many books either, so often reading a new book often means waiting for a long time as they tend to be more popular at the library. By the time I get to it, it may be a year or more old! And I have limited space on the hold list so I have to make some choices there.

  13. CLM

    You don’t want reviewing to be a chore so it is best to concentrate on books you think will bring you pleasure! I got very annoyed recently about a book in which there was a subplot about a character majoring in a subject at Yale that is not available. I was so angry at the author for not doing proper research. It prevented me from enjoying the book and I couldn’t write a review because I was afraid it would be overly harsh. I realized that is a fast way to stop blogging if I let silly things like that derail me.

    I do enjoy the year end posts but I like them whether I have read the books or not. Occasionally, I will add something to my TBR and that is fine. In your situation, your book source may be limited to what is locally available, so again, read what appeals to you and is accessible!

    • It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading newer books. But usually there is only a certain percentage of the hot books of the season that I will enjoy, and it’s not always clear from the outset which those are going to be. The taste of the world in general does not necessarily jive with mine. So I think I should make peace with this fact and allow time for the cream to rise to the top. πŸ™‚

  14. I guess it all comes down to what you enjoy reading. You don’t want your reading to be a chore or to feel like a responsibility. I do enjoy reading new books because I like discussing them with people (and I agree that many bloggers read newer books), but if the books didn’t appeal to me, it certainly wouldn’t be worth it!!

    • Yes, the main attraction is to be able to discuss these books with others. I can still do that, but it may be a few years later!

  15. I think you should read what you enjoy reading, whether it’s a new title or simply one that’s new to you. Or, for that matter, an old favorite.

    I do read some new releases, particularly from authors I really like, and I love it when I am approved for an ARC by an author I read faithfully. I’ve tried some new-to-me authors via ARCs, with mixed results; some have turned into must-read authors, some I can take or leave, and a few are not my cup of tea at all. But of the over 200 books I read last year, about half were books I have read before, because I love rereading books I enjoyed in the past. Of the rest, some were 2019 releases, and some were simply books I hadn’t read before, but wanted to read.

    Bottom line: read what you love to read, and don’t worry about missing out. If review copies stress you out, don’t accept them. Your authenticity and the thoughtfulness and insight of your reviews are what will keep me reading your blog. And reading what you love is what will keep you reading.

    • It’s hard for me to give up review copies, because every once in a while I get blown away by a gem I might not have discovered otherwise. But given my limited reading and blogging time I think I need to focus more on my backlog, and also give myself permission to not read books I’m not enjoying. I feel so guilty about that if it’s a new book that I’ve requested.

      In fact, in spite of the name I’ve given it, I have to admit that this is not really a book review blog. However, I’m so glad that you and so many other intelligent readers are still willing to give it your time.

  16. I have done the opposite since I started blogging – I pay more attention to new releases. I think one reason for that is that I focus on middle grade fiction, which has become wonderfully more diverse in recent years. I want to read and enjoy and promote these new stories, and discuss them with other bloggers who are even more keen on reviewing new releases. As for new titles in other genres, I feel similarly about waiting some time for them to ‘prove their worth’. For the most part, I am happy to pick up whatever seems novel to me, as you note, regardless of when it was published.

    • Focusing on one area and enjoying the conversation around that makes a lot of sense. I tend to get attracted by the new offerings in many different areas and that just makes me feel anxious and harried. I need to relax and remember there are no real deadlines for good reading!

  17. Several interesting points in your post and in the comments which virtually supercede anything I might think of adding, so I’ll just stick my own personal response.

    As I’ve decided to go for reading for pleasure, not pressure, I’ve forgone virtually all challenges including reviewing new releases — though I immediately broke this rule by accepting a collection of short stories for review. Luckily I’m enjoying them, but like you the lure of free books long since lost any glamour, and I’m determined to see how long I can last this year without new purchases of any description. So far I’m doing well!

  18. I have never pursued ARCs in any venue, because I am not that interested in reviewing a book unless it strikes a particular chord with me. And as a lifelong library user, I’m used to reading books from any decade. However, as a reading teacher, I do try to stay on top of new(er) releases that might interest my students. The vast majority of the books I read last year were published in the last ten years, but only about 1/4 of them were published in 2019. I read a ton of classics in my youth, but now rarely do so. I definitely agree we all can read what we like!

    • Perhaps I should have clarified, I’m not interested in reading books just because they’re new and trendy, but there are generally a number of new titles that do look interesting to me. However, they have to compete for attention with all the older books that also look interesting. Since there is no compelling reason to keep up with new offerings — as for example a librarian or teacher should generally do — I imagine I will continue with my mix of old and new more or less unchanged. I am so glad we can read and blog about what we like.

  19. This is a difficult topic, and I have to say, answering ‘read what you like reading’ would not help me. I do like to read SOME brand new books, and what’s been on my TBR for ever, and classics!
    So to find the balance is really tough. I usually start the year with a template for each month, for instance 1 brand new book, 2 TBRs, 2 classics, maybe that type of things may help. Establishing that type of quota does help me personally.
    In 2019, I ended up reading less brand new books that before – 33% were books published in 2019 and 2020 (yes, I did read 2 2020 upcoming releases in 2019). For the brand new books, I tend to focus on authors I have liked reading before, like I’m definitely going to read Hilary Mantel’s 3rd volume!! And the next by Louise Penny. Or by new to me Japanese authors.
    But I’m more and more picky, seeing that these 2 2020 books by authors I usually like (Nancy Bilyeau and Marie Benedict did disappoint me a bit).
    Good luck in finding the balance that works for you

    • RIght, it’s not that I don’t like reading current books, it’s just that there are so many other books to read. That is a good idea to make a kind of quota template. I may do something like that.

  20. I have a LOT of backlist books moldering away on my shelves because I’m too busy trying to keep up on new releases, and it’s so SILLY. For me, I’m more likely to click on a review of a backlist/older book than on the latest new thing, because my inbox is flooded with a dozen reviews of the same book and I really don’t need to read that many reviews of A Noun of Noun and Noun (picture of cover with a stylized snake on it).

    • That is good to know that you are still interested in reviews of older titles! I actually find that in general, there is more to say and more people to discuss those. So what am I worrying about? Silly indeed.

  21. I kicked off my blog reading exclusively classics and backlist titles, but found over time I was experiencing that same I’m-missing-out feeling. Now I try to balance it so it’s about 50/50 new releases and older stuff. That way, I’m keeping current on what’s going on in the world of books (which incidentally is great for my job, too), but also reading those new-to-me titles that aren’t going to make any best-of-the-year lists. It’s a good balance, for me πŸ™‚ I don’t think you’re missing anything necessarily though – the books aren’t going anywhere! They’ll be there ready for you to read them whenever you like, even if they’re not the hottest-shiniest-newest-thing by that point. πŸ˜‰

    • That’s the great thing about books! If there’s something that has a short shelf life, I probably don’t want to read it anyway.

  22. Oh my gosh, I absolutely don’t think you need to be reading just new books! I would say that my reading has started skewing more in the direction of new books, in part just because of how many new books shelves my library has now as compared to five years ago. I love hearing about backlist books, honestly! I worry so much about all the books I’ve missed over the years, and I totally depend on book bloggers to keep me posted.

    • I don’t think I would ever move to reading only new books, but I wonder if I should read more of them. This year I think I read about 3 books released in 2019. And again, it’s only at this end/beginning of the year time when people are reviewing their yearly reading that I even think about it. I cannot join into those discussions about current releases and that makes me a bit sad.

      Anyway, I think I’m going to not worry about it and be glad, as you say, that there are people who still enjoy discussing older books. Certainly I find that amply satisfying in general.

  23. While I read a lot of new releases, I think I’m actually a bit indifferent. I do get really excited about new releases from authors I love. But for the most part, I just read whatever I have been meaning to read/stumble across πŸ™‚

  24. I have a hard time not picking up the latest new releases, because they do feel more novel to me. I also think a lot of the bloggers I follow read the latest and greatest books, so I’m seeing more reviews on new books. That keeps them top of mind and keeps me more excited about reading them than some older books. That said, my reviews of popular older books tend to get more comments, since more people have had time to read them. I don’t think you’re missing anything by not getting to the latest books immediately and if anything, perhaps I should read more older books instead πŸ™‚

    • I think I’m just too slow to keep up with those very au courant readers. I shall continue to lag behind … as you mention, the good thing is there tends to be more discussion about somewhat older books.