Is Newer Always Better?

I saw a book that comes out in June of 2024 on Netgalley the other day. Without knowing a thing about it, I was instantly drawn to it. In fairness, it did have a pretty cover, but wasn’t my usual fare at all. I just needed to… look, I guess? Be aware? No idea. It did make me think though- why is it that I am so enamored with books that are new. Hell, books that are released have gone through more proof-reading, more editing, more eyeballs figuring it out across the board! The fact is, the hardcover at Barnes & Noble is definitely more finished, higher quality than the advanced e-copy that has “▲ëÖ▐ºè” instead of quotation marks (a true thing I encounter with an alarming frequency, and yet). Why am I so convinced that the newest thing is somehow better?

Ponder this: how often do you read a book that has been sitting on your shelves for eons? No really, how often? If you’re like me, the answer is straight up “never”. On the off chance I do read a book that was already published, it is likely a newer release that I just got that seems quite shiny still. Not that pre-order from 2013, the poor bastard collecting dust and begging to be chosen.

might understand this if I was reading contemporary, and the stuff started to feel dated or something. (Maybe, I don’t actually know if that is a thing, but go with me.) But most of the junk I read is about the future, or the apocalypse, or some other such time period, so it doesn’t matter. New versus old means nothing. Plus, in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t like a book from ten years ago is a classic or something. New doesn’t automatically equal better, not even close.

So why? Do we need to be “relevant” by being in the know about all the upcoming books? Is it because we cannot yet have the new thing, and therefore makes it more desirable? What are your thoughts? Do you have this issue? Let’s talk!

And because it’s me, a poll:

Do you gravitate toward new books more than old?

View Results

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Posted October 16, 2023 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Covers, Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 30 Comments


30 responses to “Is Newer Always Better?

  1. I’ve been known to look for old books I couldn’t seem to locate for ages, so…no, I don’t only crave for new, shiny ones 😉. Also, I have no unread books on my shelves…OK, that might ALSO be due to my being very selective with what I want to read, but…gasp, I even reread my old books!

  2. Here’s my take: It’s a dopamine-chasing mechanism.
    If it’s new to you, it lights up that ‘ohhh shiny’ part of your brain. That makes you happy. That makes you want it, because our brains (often falsely) assume that something that lit up the happy chemicals once will continue to do so in the future. Now you have it, and you have diminishing returns on that little dopamine zing because it’s no longer new. But you feel obligated to read it because you got it and want to feel like it was worth the investment.

    I’m actively trying to combat this in my own life, by allowing myself several minutes to admire something I find visually appealing. If it’s OK to touch it and admire it from different angles like a magpie, I do. And I let myself have a minute or two afterward, to bask in the memory of the pretty thing. Maybe I add it to a wishlist that I don’t intend to purchase. But I don’t actually get the thing. 99% of the time, after I’ve focused on something else I forget all about that piece of pretty that captivated me.

    • Yesss! I think you have nailed it, honestly. I mean, even when I start a new book, I want to hurry up and finish to get to the NEWER-new book. It’s a sickness, really. I love your plan about admiring it but not buying it! I do try to do this, but often I end up ruminating on whatever the thing was. I don’t buy books nearly as often as I used to, but it’s still at least a moderate problem.

  3. Interesting post! But yet I can’t make myself get rid of a lot of those books because I when I reread the synopsis I want to read them again all over! But then, I keep reading all the new stuff. So I have no answer, although the last comment here does make sense!

    • Bwhahah YES THIS! I really DO want to read them someday (I did this thing where I looked at the synopsis of like, all 1000 books I owned, and if I would not read it RIGHT THEN, it went to donations. I culled at least 500. They’re probably all back now heh)

  4. I look at the newer books because all of the books on my bookshelves right now have been read. I have about 100 ebooks on my Kindle that I plan on getting through in the next year but I look at newer books because they might be a new book in a series that I’ve been reading for years.

      • lol I’ve been reading for 38 years so if I read 100 books a year, that’s a lot of books. Back before I had a computer I was probably reading 30 books a week and my mom would also bring her books over to me so a lot of the books on my bookshelves are older. I’m kinda picky about the books I read and I read fast (I can read a 200 page book in 2 hours) so I read through a lot of books. But like I said, I have 100 ebooks on my kindle (85 books now) so I still have some books to get read.

        • I just don’t ever seem to make a dent, honestly. I think the biggest problem IS the new shiny books, and I end up requesting too many (Netgalley just makes it so EASY hah) and then the ones I own never get read, so. And hey, in your case, at least you never have to feel guilty for buying a book!

  5. Oooh interesting thought! I always think the new and shiny books sound exciting…but then the books I acquired in 2010 were once new and shiny. I totally blame RT where I got so many of my free books that I picked up and add in my beloved Borders closing forever and I picked up books that I thought sounded interesting and what with discounts, it was more like why not? In reality I know I probably can’t read every book I own, I figure one day publishing might just stop putting the kinds of books out there that I love to read, so then I can focus on my TBR pile. Or if the day ever comes where I can retire I will read all day! Or if they develop a serum to give up sleep and still be a healthy functional human being with zero negative side effects, then my TBR pile will be non existent and I will have to go back to rereading! A girl can dream! Lol!

    • YES you nailed it, I literally remember some of those 10 year old pre-orders coming, me being SO excited, and… now they still sit on the shelf 😂 Also it is so funny because I keep my oldies for the exact same reason- some weird fear that nothing good will be published (which is absurd, I mean, I already have 2027 books on my TBR!) I figure if the apocalypse comes, at least we won’t be bored 😂 (Incidentally, I read a book once that was about them finding that very serum- only it had some side effects no one had predicted!)

  6. I’m a backlist bitch! I’m pretty sure I’ve read exactly 0 books that came out in 2023. I guess I feel like older books have stood the test of time, so I’ll be more likely to enjoy them? Or maybe I just hate e-books and can’t afford new releases? I don’t know. I’m happy enough with my old books.

  7. I think being a book blogger has made me more aware of upcoming releases, plus I do love the anticipation of new books. But I don’t even read my review copies early, so go figure. Someday I’ll stop blogging and do nothing but read stuff on my shelves😁

    • Yes yes I agree! Before blogging, I would never have even thought to look at when a book was published! But now… well. I used to read mine VERY early, but then I would not remember anything about them when the time came to review them! So I only let myself read them one month before their publication month, at most. And yes that is what I figure- one day I won’t be blogging, and then I can read it all heh. Ah, the lies we tell ourselves 😂

  8. Great post idea! So far I’ve read 18 books this month. Only four of them are 2023 releases. So, I do pick up new releases every month, but I definitely still read a lot of backlist books. I know for me I like when bookish people share different books. I don’t mind seeing a popular book on every blog/video, but I also like to see books mentioned that not everyone is talking about, so I try to do the same thing.

  9. I look at everything and if it is one click, beware. I have so many ebooks, I will probably never be able to read them in my lifetime, but I still feel the need to have more. I am reading so many books released this year, but am trying to get back into visiting the library, at least virtually, and getting some of the older books I have been meaning to read. I love to go to the library and bookstores and wander. It’s been a while,….but, maybe it’s time.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  10. There’s definitely something exciting about those new reads. I think part of the problem is that some subconscious part of my brain tells me there must be something wrong with those books that have been hanging out on my bookshelf for so long. Like, some inner voice says, “Surely if you wanted to read this book, you would have done it by now. Instead acquire six shiny new books and read one of them!” (And hope that those other five don’t just sit on the shelf.)

  11. I think since blogging (or maybe just SM) there’s a book culture and like anything that becomes popular – you have to keep the machine rolling and content coming and it gets the dopamine going to be in on the new shiny thing.

    I feel so much pressure from it all that I totally stepped away & rarely even get arc’s or read what’s new anymore. I do have older books that aren’t being read either. Ok…so I’m barely reading at all so… lol but you know what I mean.

    But I do remember that feeling. I think it’s only natural and people do it for lots of different things/hobbies.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

  12. Okay but Y E S this is very relatable. I feel like, with social media and new releases getting “thrown in my face”, I feel like I tend to read more new releases than older books, or ones that have been on my backlist for ages. There’s alwyas this new, shiny thing that feels too appealing to pass up on ahah. It also feels a bit like, you’re being relevant, by reading recent books, because they’re what’s everyone’s talking about, at the moment? That being said, I’d love to read more backlist books and pay more attention to that…. maybe I need to step off social media for a while, not to be distracted ahah.
    Love this post!

  13. I personally have been reading more and more library books (my shelf books still weep). Some are new releases, but many are backlist from authors I “discovered”. I was late to game on quite a few authors, and I am enjoying catching up. I guess maybe more people are interested in knowing about newer books, but I get more meaningful engagement with older books, since people are more likely to have read them.

  14. I’m about half and half at this point. I think when I was first blogging, I got more interested in newer releases but nowadays, I really am trying to mix it up. I find some great books just sitting on my shelves. LOL But new, shiny books are always going to be exciting.

  15. I am actually trying to be more fair with the books i read. I am trying to not be partial toward them and their newness or their attractiveness of covers and trying to just read them. Sometimes I even let the kids pick one out. I have too many books on my shelves and I need to start paying them more attention. Also if I have books on there I know I will never read then I am also trying to part with them.. send them off to a home that will read them.

  16. I don’t actually accept that many ARCs anymore, but I read a mix of new and old. For me, it’s more that the new things are exciting and sound good and I just get distracted by them. They’re fresher in my brain, so they’re what I reach for without thinking about it sometimes. I’ve been trying lately to work on my book FOMO and stop getting sad if my library doesn’t get all the specific new books I want, because I do still have so many older ones I need to read.

  17. Jessica

    Many years ago I discovered ebooks and audiobooks. I had in mind that I was going to read some classics that I didn’t read in school. And I did do that, but then I would see newer books and get them as well. One classic I read recently was Treasure Island. Lately I have been watching Treasure Island adaptations. One adaptation I don’t recommend. It was terrible. Right now I’m reading Mexican Gothic.

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