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Throwback Thursday: Celebrating the Backlist

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Amanda Nelson

Staff Writer

Amanda Nelson is an Executive Director of Book Riot. She lives in Richmond, VA.

You know what the internet has a lot of on Thursdays? Throwbacks. No really, check Instagram or Twitter or Facebook for #tbt or #throwbackthursday and then revel in the ’80s hair and baby pictures. And if there’s one thing I love more than ’80s hair and baby pictures, it’s books (and also many other things like coffee and bourbon and grits and ok maybe just food in general). So let’s get our #tbt on literary-style, with a look at the backlist* I’m ingesting (MOAR FOOD) right now- because sometimes you have to hide from that pile of new releases you haven’t gotten to by diving into a pile of books published 20+ years ago:

maus coverMaus I by Art Spiegelman (first published in 1986)

When something happens to you or your family that is beyond horrific, but it’s still a story that needs to be told, comics are the way to do it. Making the Jews mice and Nazis cats separates the story-teller enough that the story can be told, and is so new and strange that the reader can’t play the “I’ve heard this horror story before” card. This is a classic of comics, and one I’m excited to dive into as I continue exploring the medium. Got this from the library yesterday! Libraries, they’re boss.



parnassus on wheels coverParnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley (first published in 1917)

A little novella about a woman who buys a traveling bookstore, leaves her farm, and goes off to have her own adventure? Um. Yes. Also, the Melville House edition is very pretty and now I have to have all their Art of The Novella novellas because: matching. (This one was in one of our Quarterly boxes! Bonus!)





the bluest eye coverThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (first published in 1970)

Morrison is on my List Of Authors Whose Entire Catalogue I Will Eventually Conquer, Come Hell Or High Water, along with Dickens and George Eliot and…that might be it. I’m not reading her work in any order, just as I find them at the library/thrift store/on sale online/randomly on the shelves at the bookstore, and this one is up next. This is Morrison’s first book, about a little girl in 1940s Ohio who undergoes some sort of dramatic change but I don’t know what kind of change DO NOT SPOIL IT FOR ME YOU HUSH DOWN THERE I JUST STARTED IT.



understanding comicsUnderstanding Comics by Scott McCloud (first published in 1993)

As you know from my Adventures of a Comic Book Newbie posts/videos, I’ve started getting into comic books over the last few months. I love the medium, but don’t really have the language for thinking about a comic critically, and have (or had, until I started this book) zero knowledge of the history of comics or their context in the larger world of art and literature. This book is fixing all that, giving me the vocabulary I was missing (hehe, “gutter”), and bringing me up to speed on a field that’s totally new to me.



Celebrate the backlist with me, folks. Replace that picture of yourself from first grade with a picture of a book you’re reading that was published in 1997. Let’s make history. Or, ya know, confuse the people who follow us on social media.


*I’m defining “backlist” as any book older than one year because this is my post and I can define things how I want. Reality and all of space-time! It’s in my hands!