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In Case You Missed It: Backlist Reading Challenge (ICYMI)

Each year, we gear our new challenge to feedback that we notice from readers throughout the year. For 2024, our new challenge solves TWO problems at once! 

Every week, we see people lament that there are so many more good books released each year than they have time to read. We also see many readers who have recently rediscovered their joy of reading and feel like they missed the best books of prior years as they were busy with toddlers, teenagers, work, or caring for other family members.

Reading Challenge Printable Page

How Does the In Case You Missed It Backlist Challenge Work?

Each month, choose a book published in a different year, starting with 2012 in January and working your way up to 2023 backlist books by year-end. We will curate a list of highly-rated books for each publication year reading prompt. The list will include popular titles you may still have on your TBR (to be read) shelf, as well as hidden gems that should have been more popular.

For each prompt, you can pick your pick your path. Do you want to read a book you missed in the past OR re-read a favorite from our list that you already own? We hope this mix provides plenty of book options for you to pick up from your bookshelf or local library each month.

Join our Facebook group to chat about what you are reading throughout the month. Then, when you finish your book for each prompt, go deeper with book club-style conversations in our Together Book Discussion Forum.

Image showing quote from a reader "I found books that I’d never heard of that became favorites. I found books that had been on my shelves for years, but I had never read, now moved to top of my TBR stack. I found new excitement for reading as I eagerly await each month’s new list."

What Kinds of Books are Included?

As with our other challenges, we provide carefully researched lists of highly-rated titles for you to choose from for each reading prompt. The In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) Backlist Challenge is perfect for anyone striving to read or re-read the best books published over the last twelve years.

Each book list includes a wide variety of genres, from contemporary and literary fiction to mystery, romance, and memoirs. In addition to a range of genres, we always try to include diverse characters and authors.

Within the book list, each recommendation includes a synopsis of the book and additional notes to help you select your perfect read.

Bookshelf showing spines & a plant

Join the In Case You Missed It Backlist Challenge

Our Friday email newsletter is the easiest way to ensure you’re getting the newly updated book lists, and we will help you stay on track with friendly reminders while allowing you the flexibility to read at your own pace.

When you sign up using the box below, you’ll get a welcome email with a link to download the cute printable tracker for this challenge. If you’re already on the email list, it’s okay to fill it out again for this year’s tracker using your same email address.

If you’re participating in the challenge, in addition to signing up for the email list, we recommend joining our Read with the Book Girls Facebook group. It’s a friendly place where we discuss books, both for the challenges and anything else that we’re reading.

Reading Challenge Prompts & Book Recommendation Lists

Throughout the year, we’ll be publishing a new challenge book list on the THIRD FRIDAY of each month. For example, the February list of the best books published in 2013 will be available on Friday, January 19th. Don’t worry, you don’t have to remember the dates. Just watch your email and we’ll let you know when the list is ready!

JANUARY: Best Books from 2012
FEBRUARY: Best Books from 2013
MARCH: Best Books from 2014
APRIL: Best Books from 2015
MAY: Best Books from 2016
JUNE: Best Books from 2017
JULY: Best Books from 2018
AUGUST: Best Books from 2019
SEPTEMBER: Best Books from 2020
OCTOBER: Best Books from 2021
NOVEMBER: Best Books from 2022
DECEMBER: Best Books from 2023

Printable Book Lists

Readers who support The Book Girls’ Guide through our Buy Me a Coffee (BMAC) membership site have access to two different printable versions of this book list beginning on 12/8/23.

New for 2024, members can print a single page containing all the book titles from each guided challenge list. We will also continue providing the journal page format, which has space to indicate your interest level in each book, jot down notes, and rate the books once you have read them.

Two printable options of this book list

Our BMAC members (we call them our BFFs) help cover the cost of running the challenges so we can keep them free for everyone. You can read more about why our members are essential and learn about the perks of membership.

What Do I Do When I Finish Reading My Book Each Month?

Book Logs – Share Your Book Rating and Review

As a member of our email list and Facebook group, you can share your rating, and other thoughts about your monthly challenge reads via our book log form. We share a link to the book log in the Friday newsletter every week.

The book logs help us determine which books should stay on our recommendation lists, which should be removed, and whether any changes are needed to our descriptions. Additionally, we use the log data to calculate the “BGG Reader Ratings” that you’ll see noted for many of the books.

At the end of each month, we compile an infographic highlighting the top books from each challenge prompt. It’s become a fun tradition that many look forward to in our newsletter!

Discussion Groups – Join the Conversation

Throughout the month, there will be opportunities to share your book selections and chat with other readers participating in the ICYMI Backlist Challenge in our Read With the Book Girls Facebook group.

At the beginning of each month, we’ll start a discussion thread for each book in our Together Book Discussion Forum. The first time you visit the Together Forum, you’ll complete a simple one-time registration. We suggest starting with this handy tutorial to see how everything works.

When you finish your book for each prompt, visit Together to engage in book club-style conversations. We invite you to add questions in the forum and engage with others who have read the same book. Just keep in mind that the discussions may contain spoilers as they’re intended for those who are finished reading. If you can’t think of what to ask, check out our universal book club discussion questions.

I love the way the Book Girls give a list of books to choose from each month from a variety of genres, so you can always find one (although I usually find at least 5) that you will find interesting.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to participate?

All our reading challenges, as well as our other book lists and resources, are free for everyone! It takes an extraordinary amount of time to put together and administer the challenges, but we never want finances to be a barrier to participation. At the request of some of our readers, we established a totally optional Buy Me a Coffee membership for anyone willing to help support our work.

How do I find the recommendation lists when I’m ready for a new book?

You can find a link to the ICYMI Backlist Challenge book lists in the Reading Challenge section of our newsletter each Friday morning. Be sure to register for this challenge via the email form in the blue box above to be added to our weekly newsletter list.

Do you host any other reading challenges?

Yes! We have five reading challenges – three of which are “guided challenges” (including the In Case You Missed It Backlist Challenge) and two that are self-paced. You can find more details about all of our challenge options here.

Reading Challenges from Book Girls Guide - 5 Options Showing Printables

You are welcome to join in as many challenges as you would like each year. Many of our readers participate in more than one.

If I’m doing more than one challenge, can a single book count twice?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, we even help you find books that meet more than one challenge with a special crossover list that we update and share in the newsletter each month. This list identifies the books that meet more than one challenge prompt for that month.

Do audiobooks count?

Yes! We’re equal-opportunity readers. Whether you choose a paper book, ebook, or audiobook, if you finish the material knowing the story the author set out to tell, you’ve “read” the book!

Can I choose my own book?

Absolutely! You can choose any book from our list or any other book that meets the challenge theme of the challenge prompt. In fact, if you really enjoy an off-list book you select, we’d love to hear about it on this form.

Can I recommend a book for one of the ICYMI Backlist Challenge book lists?

Yes, we’d love to hear your recommendation, and you can submit it using this form. Please only recommend books that you’ve already read and rated highly.

How do I get the printable reading challenge log?

Just scroll back up and fill out the email form in the blue box, which is located above the links to all the book lists.

What if I signed up, but didn’t receive the email?

Sometimes, our emails might get trapped in your spam filter. If you signed up but haven’t received the email with the printable reading tracker, be sure to check your spam folder. To keep future emails out of the spam folder, be sure to add our email address to your address book, or drag our emails over to your Primary tab in Gmail. If you’ve checked your spam folder and still don’t see the email from us, then please send us a quick email to hello(at)bookgirlsguide(dot)com and we’ll get it sorted out for you as quickly as we can.

Photo of a typewriter with printable book tracker

Can I join a reading challenge after January?

Absolutely! How you choose to participate is totally up to you, so there’s no such thing as being behind. Any month can be a great time to start!

If you’re a voracious reader, you can double up and complete multiple prompts in one month. Sometimes, people jump in and start with the current month’s prompt, while also picking a second book from earlier in the year.

But really, no pressure from us. We’re happy for you to join in whenever and wherever!

What happens if I miss a month?

Nothing at all! Life happens, and we’re committed to our challenges being fun and not stressful.

While it feels great to make it to the end of the year with all 12 months completed, sometimes it’s better to skip a month and move on to the next prompt when you can. You can also go back and read the month you skipped if you’d like, but please don’t feel any pressure to do that.

Do I have to go in order?

Yes and no. We’ll be publishing the book lists each month based on the schedule we’ve laid out, so reading in order will ensure that you don’t have to spend hours researching books for each prompt.

If the discussion groups are important to you, you’ll want to read in order as the groups are set up based on each month’s prompt.

Can we use the challenge for our book club?

Absolutely! We’ve had many book clubs use our challenges and reading prompts to help guide their book selections throughout the year. One suggestion is to give each member a link to the book list for each prompt and let them vote on their top 3 options to help narrow down the book options before making the final selection as a club. We also have a list of Universal Book Club Discussion Questions to spark insightful conversations, no matter what title your club is exploring.

The lists for each month are filled with an assortment of genres, and REALLY great books. I was able to find books at my library or on Hoopla, or free books on Kindle so I could choose the $$ spent each month as well as the genre of book. Every book that I read (been a member for several years) was excellent! Highly recommend!

We look forward to reading with you this year!

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The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.

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