Backlist Genre Novels to Read in 2019
At SERIAL Magazine, we love genre fiction and as a member of the team, I feel it’s my responsibility to stay on top of the genres. Fortunately for this post, I’d consider myself more of a backlist reader than a frontlist one. I’ve inherited a lot of books, I have a habit of picking up vintage paperbacks at used bookstores and library sales, and I’m totally fascinated by what makes a classic book a classic. There are so many books that “everyone” but me has read and I’m always making an effort to catch up. It’s one of my favorite things to do.
So, below I’ve compiled of list of backlist novels I plan on reading during the first few months of 2019 in the hopes that it will inspire you to pick up an oldie but goodie genre novel.
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (Action/Adventure)
Is there anything more fun than observing a bunch of characters run from a terrifying creature? Whether it’s written fiction, tv, or film, I just love this subset of the action/adventure genre. It’s one of the many reasons we chose to publish “Taniwha” by Simon Peteresen in our first issue. The story reminds me of that feeling I had when I first saw Godzilla on screen. Yes, the effects were outdated even then. But…monsters!!
I’m hoping to get the same feeling from Jurassic Park, although…Emily Fox of Books with Emily Fox has warned that the children in this one are incredibly annoying. So, we’ll see, right?
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (Fantasy)
Okay, confession time. I’m a member of the very small I’ve Never Read Harry Potter Club. I really don’t think of this series when I think of classic fantasy fiction, but millions of other people do so I’m giving myself a chance to see the light.
I’m currently on Book 2 and promised my friends I would at least make it through Book 4. My shameful not-so-secret: I don’t always love stories about average children. I prefer my kids to be creepy horrors like Sophia in “Littlegrace” or potty-mouthed independents like Buck in The Last Dung Beetle. So, I’m hopeful that as Harry ages in the series and it moves from Middle Grade to YA, I’ll enjoy it more.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (Horror)
I have to admit, when it comes to horror and thrillers, most of my reading history has revolved around 50 cent paperbacks from used book stores. I want to up my reading game, so I’ve added The Haunting of Hill House, a classic in horror literature that essentially defined the haunted house trope.
Netflix recently developed a series based on this novel and my friend found it terrifying even though he usually loves scary movies. So that’s kind of an endorsement, right?
Grave Digger Jones & Coffin Ed Johnson Mysteries by Chester Himes (Mystery)
It’s rarer to see #ownvoices literature in genre fiction. Part of the fun of writing within a genre is that it gives you an opportunity to explore other cultures, other worlds, and oftentimes very unlikely circumstances. It’s what I love about genre fiction, but it’s also a treat when something like A Rage in Harlem pops up on my radar. I love noir, which you’ll likely learn if you subscribe to the mag (hint, hint), and I’m excited to read a black author write about black detectives working various crimes in Harlem.
Barsoom Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Science Fiction)
A lot of things inspired me to start SERIAL Magazine. I actually had an idea very similar to it way back in high school. In 2017 / 2018, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Stephen King reminded me of that earlier dream.
In On Writing, Stephen King talks about his early childhood hustle of re-publishing classic fiction and his more legitimate attempts to get his short stories published. While talking about those early days, I’m pretty sure Stephen King mentioned Edgar Rice Burroughs…which reminded me of how much I loved the John Carter the movie after catching it on TV way back in 2014, so much so, I bought the series and never read it.
Editor’s Note: Please know that after reading several of the Barsoom books and re-watching the movie, I absolutely understand why it was panned. Taylor Kitsch is still beautiful though.
The Barsoom series is the quintessential serialized pulp fiction from back in the day and I absolutely love it. It’s such stupid fun. It’s entirely unrealistic. The science is inaccurate even for the time period, John Carter is an impossible hero, there are so many poorly explained instances of characters showing up just in the nick of time to save the day. It’s so flawed, but I don’t care. The story is so good, so exciting that it’s impossible for me to not root for John Carter and his friends. Soon, I will be starting the 4th book in the series.
Basic Black with Pearls by Helen Weinzweig (Thriller/Suspense)
Similar to horror, I decided to go with a classic thriller or suspense novel and chose Basic Black with Pearls primarily for its blurb: “a lost feminist classic.” While a lot of genre fiction is simply fun, I do think it has the potential to give you something to think about. The Night People by Michael Washburn, a thriller in our first issue is a great example of this. While it keeps you on the edge of your seat and provides plenty of twists to keep you entertain, it also leads you to think about perception, namely how you perceive your own actions and history vs. how others view your past. We’ll see what deep thoughts Basic Black with Pearls brings.
Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau (Romance)
I love romance, but I’m not a huge fan of traditional romances. It makes my reading life hard. So when one of my favorite authors recommended Deep Deception, I had to check it out. It’s a sci-fi lesbian romance with some class undertones and themes that also remind me of The Last Dung Beetle.
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (Western)
I fell in love with westerns this past summer after reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. It’s a beautifully done epic novel that I felt did an amazing job of portraying the reality of a particular time in history without romanticizing the atrocities that occurred during it. Blood Meridian is another classic of the genre and dives much more deeply into the violence that occurred in the “wild west,” so I’m excited to dig in!
And that, folks, are the oldie but goodie genre books I’m looking forward to reading in 2019. Have you read any? Do you love or hate any? What are you planning to read in the next few months?
If you have any recommendations definitely leave those in the comments as well. And check back soon because I’ll be posting my most anticipated frontlist reads as well!