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12 Recommendations for The 2024 In Case You Missed It Backlist Reading Challenge

For the In Case You Missed It: Backlist Reading Challenge (ICYMI), each month, choose a book published in a different year, starting with 2012 in January and working your way up to 2023. What a great way to go through backlist books. Here’s our recommendations for amazing reads for each year.

2012 – The Shoemaker’s Wife, Adriana Trigiani

The Shoemaker’s Wife, Adriana Trigiani is an epic love story. It follows Ciro and Enza from their chance meetings when they were kids growing up in Italy, to when they met again and again as adults who had emigrated to NY, eventually falling in love and building a life together. This a deep, detailed, wonderful journey, rich in history, sometimes sad, but always … always beautiful.

2013 – Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2), Stephen King

Stephen King wrote Doctor Sleep 36 years after the iconic book (and movie) The Shining! It picks up decades later, where Danny is no longer the 5 year old kid of The Shining, but a fully functional, very flawed adult who is getting used to his abilities and finding a way to use them to help people in a discreet way. And then there’s the villains, The True Knot. A group of vampire like baddies that feed off “the shining”. King knows how to build up a story, and make you fall in love with his characters.

2014 – Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty

On the surface, Big Little Lies is about a group of parents in an Australian suburb whose children are starting kindergarten. There are the typical cliques, working moms against stay at home moms and over-parenting. It’s funny and seemingly light and airy … but under the surface were other layers. The author tackles many issues like bullying and spousal abuse and she does a phenomenal job of getting us in the story and investing in the characters and their little … big … hidden secrets. And there’s a TV series which I really enjoyed.

2015 – Uprooted, Naomi Novik

What an amazingly unique, deep, magical, beautifully written book! The World building in Uprooted is so thorough that I wanted to submerse myself in it every chance I got. It has a fairy-tale feel to make it a smart but whimsical story. I loved this through and through.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

2016 – The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad is not an easy book to read. Whitehead really digs into slavery and brings across how nasty, cruel, brutish and awful a period of time that was – a real dystopian society for many Africans and African Americans. This book literally brought me to tears many times as the main character, Cora, went through one hardship after another.

2017 – American Street, Ibi Zoboi

I couldn’t put American Street down when I was reading it. It’s told from the point of view of a newly immigrated Fabiola. She’s sometimes irritatingly naive, but it’s because of this that you’ll fall in love with this story.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie – a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

2018 – Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver completely did me in … in all the right ways. The story is lush, deep, imaginative, emotional – so, so good. Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk – grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh – Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered.

2019 – The Huntress, Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn never disappoints! Quinn manages to weave together the past and the present in a tale that’s not only easy to follow but completely engrossing as well. The Huntress is a story of relationships and obsessions. On it’s surface, it follows Nina Markova as she escapes her alcoholic father and living on the edge of the World in the harsh edges of Russia, to becoming a member of the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. Her story intersects with that of Ian Graham, a British war correspondent become a Nazi hunter, as he searches for The Huntress.

2020 – The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half has a captivating plot, characters that will pull you into their lives and just enough drama to keep you wondering what will happen next. The story follows the Vignes twin sisters who grow up together in a small, southern black community. Ten years after running away at age sixteen, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Bennett gets you into the sisters heads and how they choices have shaped them, altered their outlook on life, as well as how they raise their children. There’s so much more to this book – it’s a deep, complex story that you will not regret picking up.

2021 – The Last House on Needless Street, Catriona Ward

The House on Needless Street is the kind of book that you want to go into knowing absolutely nothing about. Don’t read any reviews – just take my word that it is so absolutely worth your time. “This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.”

2022 – Carrie Soto is Back, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Believe the hype! Carrie Soto is Back is really, really good. It reminded me a bit of Beartown, Fredrik Bachman in that the obvious theme is obsession with a sport, in this case tennis (in Beartown, it’s hockey). Taylor Jenkins Reid brings her A-game with how she draws us into the life of Carrie Soto, who is trying to make a come-back after retiring from tennis. It’s about Soto’s drive and determination and fucking bad-ass work ethic. A little glimpse into what it takes to dominate at an elite level, and you almost can’t believe this is not a true story!

2023 – Maame, Jessica George

It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. Welcome to Maddie’s life. She’s the caretaker for her dad who has Parkinson’s because her mom spends months in Ghana and her older brother rarely shows up. When her mom finally comes back to London, Maddie takes the opportunity to move out and start her own life. Maame is Maddie’s nickname, and it’s engrossing to read this story about her life as she desperately tries to navigate life.

Have your read any of these books? Are you participating in this challenge, or something similar?

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