Renee’s Top 10 Backlist Books

Hello you awesome amazing readers, you.

Have I told you all how awesome you are lately? Cuz gosh darn it, you are! Seriously, the amount of support and solidarity and love I have been seeing in the web orders and phone calls and social media posts since this whole crazy quarantine happened…it warms my somewhat emotionally stunted heart.

Now, I spend most of my time (the last week notwithstanding) in a bookstore. That’s pretty great. But there is a big difference between working in a bookstore and browsing in a bookstore. And not being able to browse when you want to browse suuucks. So you’ve probably noticed we’ve been doing our darndest to give you the resources for virtually browse the many fantastic books that are out there.

My contribution to this effort was to take a good look at my “have not read” bookshelf and pick the 10 books that I am most looking forward to picking up (at some point; reading backlist is hard, guys!). Obviously, I haven’t read any of these books yet, so recommending them will be hard. But hopefully one or two will spark your interest like they did mine and it winds up being something you really enjoy!

With apologies: Okay I tried to pick only books we could still get for you easily but some of them seem to have gone out of print. But never fear! We can order used copies just as easily! Here goes:

The Sorceress and the Cygnet by Patricia A. McKillip

“Corleu was different from the typical dark-haired Wayfolk. His blond hair and his fascination with the legends and children’s rhymes about the Cygnets, Gold King, Blind Lady, Dancer, and Warlock set him apart. When Corleu and a band of Wayfolk become trapped in an endless swamp, he crosses a threshold (an unthinkable act for Wayfolk) seeking a means of escape. This impetuous act puts him on a collision course with the legends of his childhood.”

I read another McKillip book years ago when I was still in my teens. It is called The Forgotten Beasts of Eld and though I haven’t picked it up in years, I remember really enjoying it, even though I can’t remember why. This particular title came into the store used, and it was my love of the Eld that compelled me to snag this one. Hope it’s just as good as I remember the other book being!


Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard

“With his brand of keenly intelligent humor that ranges from world history to historical politics, sexual politics, mad ancient kings, and chickens with guns, Eddie Izzard has built an extraordinary fan base that transcends age, gender, and race. Writing with the same candor and insight evident in his comedy, he reflects on a childhood marked by the loss of his mother, boarding school, and alternative sexuality, as well as a life in comedy, film, politics, running and philanthropy. Honest and generous, Believe Me is an inspired account of a very singular life thus far.”

I just love Eddie Izzard. That’s the short answer for this one. But beyond his stand up, he just seems like a really smart guy who wants to make the world a better place. Which hopefully he’ll have a chance to do if he gets into UK politics!


Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea, and Human Life by George Monbiot

“As an investigative journalist, Monbiot found a mission in his ecological boredom, that of learning what it might take to impose a greater state of harmony between himself and nature. He was not one to romanticize undisturbed, primal landscapes, but rather in his attempts to satisfy his cravings for a richer, more authentic life, he came stumbled into the world of restoration and rewilding. Some people began using it to mean the rehabilitation not just of particular species, but of entire ecosystems: a restoration of wilderness.”

For the record, the UK cover is better than the US cover for this book. I can be a bit of a misanthrope and have an abiding love for the natural world and creatures in it. A little bit of rewilding wouldn’t go amiss in my opinion.


Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight (Book 1 of the Age of Fire series)

“After escaping those who killed his siblings, Young Auron, a rare, defenseless gray dragon, fears he might be the last of his breed. Armed with nothing but his claws and a boundless determination to survive, he sets off in search of his kind. But to find other dragons–or, at least, find out who’s killing them off-Auron will have to search a world of mercenary elves, vicious humans, and dangers of all kinds. Finding allies in the strangest places–and himself along the way–Auron is on the trek of a lifetime.–From publisher’s description.”

Dragons. That’s basically it. Also, I want to write my own dragon story one day so I figured I should do some research and get an idea what is out there already. But dragons (did I say that already?).


The Camelot Code: The Once and Future Geek by Mari Mancusi

“When young Arthur of Camelot accidentally time-travels to the 21st century and Googles himself, he discovers the not-so-happily ever after in store for him once he pulls the sword from the stone. Yes, he’ll go from squire to sovereign basically overnight, but he’ll also lose the love of his life to his best friend and eventually die in battle. What’s a once-and-future king to do? Easy: stay in the future, where he’ll actually have a future-and join the football team instead. Now, with the help of the great wizard Merlin, modern-day gamer-geeks Sophie and Stu find themselves in a race against time to get that sword pulled from the stone and the stubborn soon-to-be-king Arthur back to the past where he belongs.”

This is the first in a middle grade series, the premise of which is young Arthur of Camelot accidentally time travels to the 21st century. My coworker read it and said it was super cute and I trust her so…nuff said.


The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

“The book collects dozens of Hurley’s essays on feminism, geek culture, and her experiences and insights as a genre writer, including “We Have Always Fought,” which won the 2013 Hugo for Best Related Work. Unapologetically outspoken.”

Admittedly, I haven’t read anything my Kameron Hurley, but I know many of my bookselling cohorts love her fiction (and this particular non-fiction title) so when the chance came to snag this I did. Also I consider myself a geek and a feminist so, made sense.


Holding by Graham Norton

“The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama, and yet its inhabitants are troubled. So when human remains—suspected to be those of Tommy Burke, a former lover of both Brid and Evelyn—are discovered on an old farm, the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As a frustrated Sergeant P.J. struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his professional life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regrets.”

Yes, that Graham Norton. If you don’t know who I’m talking about you are missing out on 1) the best talk show in the world and 2) to most delightful a jovial Irishman in the world (besides Eoin Colfer maybe). I don’t usually go for mysteries, but I have been known to read them and anything sent in a tiny sleepy Irish village always appeals, mystery or otherwise. Plus I’m just curious to see what kind of writer Graham is.


How To Fall In Love With A Man Who Lives In A Bush by Emmy Abrahamson

“Vienna: famous for Mozart, waltzes, and pastry; less famous for Julia, a Swedish transplant who spends her days teaching English to unemployed Austrians and her evenings watching Netflix with her cat or club hopping with a frenemy. An aspiring novelist, Julia’s full of ideas for future bestsellers; then something original finds Julia—sits down next to her on a bench, as a matter of fact. Ben is handsome and adventurous. Oh, and Ben lives in a public park. Thus begins a truth stranger than any fiction Julia might have imagined: a whirlwind relationship with a guy who shares her warped sense of humor and shakes up the just-okay existence she’s been too lazy to change.”

Yes, I only picked this book up because of the title. Who wouldn’t?! It was just sitting there innocently on a table at one of our regional fall trade shows and I thought, “What the hell, it’s short and sounds interesting enough.” So here we are.


The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

“The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities. What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.”

A friend of mine absolutely loves this series. I went with her to meet the author when she was a BookBar and of course I had to buy the book. Didn’t want to look like a jerk now did I? Plus I trust my friend’s judgment and I always like a good robbery/heist type story.


Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. “

I’m a fan of the Temeraire books (though I still have several of them to read…) and I am always down for retellings of well-known fairytales. They always bring something new to the story and shed light of different perspectives. And if that isn’t the whole point of reading other peoples’ stories, what is?


You can purchase any or all of these books by clicking on their titles above! If your order is $20 or more, you’ll get free shipping while our pandemic practices are in place!

Happy reading!

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