New Year’s Eve: the traditional time for a review of the past year. Let me not here break with that tradition but instead put a bit of a spin on it, melding statistics and selectivity. I’m going to look back at the twelve most popular posts (1) by month in terms of the amount of likes and (2) by comments. Each measure is, I suppose, an indication of popularity, one in terms of attraction and the other in terms of interaction. Not very scientific perhaps, given that anyone can ‘like’ a post without having to read it and — remembering I try to acknowledge each observation with a response of my own — that half of the comments are likely to be by me. Still, there’s half a chance that readers may find some of these spurious statistics as interesting as I do.
Working backwards through the year, I find that the most appreciated post in December was Rereading Revisited, with 22 likes. Like many of this year’s posts this represented my thoughts on the advantages of returning to books enjoyed (or otherwise) in past years. Another hot topic was November’s Do you love libraries? with 25 likes, the third most popular post for 2016.
Not all my posts were observational or simply book reviews. October’s The Perills of the Conjurations of Spirits, my Halloween spoof of ancient warnings against practising black magic garnered a healthy 19 likes. September’s The sea all day saw 18 likes of my review of Julia Rochester’s haunting novel The House at the Edge of the World. We were back with observational posts for August with Shelfies (19 likes) and July’s Judging a Book (18 bloggers took a shine to my thoughts on the art of book reviewing).
Unusually for me I was explicitly political for June’s post Midsummer Madness about the ill-conceived EU referendum, and I was marginally mollified by 21 bloggers indicating their agreement that this was an ill-advised, retrograde move that threatened such global stability as could be said to exist. On a lighter note, 27 readers enjoyed my bit of creating writing for May: The Minx (1) was the first of four consecutive fantasy episodes I posted then, and proved the second most enjoyed post of the year.
April’s Chameleon was another observational post about how reading Regency-period novels (whether historic or modern) can morph one’s writing style, with 18 bloggers indicating approval. There are a lot of fans of Roald Dahl out there: this year marked the centenary of his birth and 22 readers clicked the Like button for March’s Absolute Hell.
In February Time to read proved to be the most popular of 2016’s posts, liked by 28 bloggers who responded to my opening gambit “When do you read? And what do you read whenever it is when you’re reading?” Perhaps this observation was my subconscious response to Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, the narrator of which showed herself capable of writing while seated in any position … including in the kitchen sink. January’s review of Smith’s exquisite novel (Consciously naïve) proved equally popular with 22 likers.
I still wonder if the number of comments posted are a more accurate way of measuring bloggers’ engagement with a post (allowing not only for the likelihood that half the comments will be my replies but also that some bloggers are more garrulous than others). Thus it is that there was 42 responses to my Brexit post Midsummer Madness, making it easily the most lively conversation, with A youngster’s reading list also yielding 42 comments (though fewer likes). February’s The Art of Reviewing (which preceded July’s Judging a Book on the same topic) was the third most commented on post with 39, a long way above February’s Time to Read (a mere 33).
Here’s a good point at which to mention A ‘novel’ novel, a repost of a review of Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children after its appearance in cinemas. As many of you know reposts retain the likes and comments added the first time around while touting for new appreciations, so this practice is tantamount to cheating — in my mind at least! It’s interesting, though, that this post not only totalled 25 likes after its second appearance but also attracted 32 comments in sum.
A Faerie primer, my review of Susanna Clarke’s The Ladies of Grace Adieu (itself a companion to the wonderful Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell), was graced by 31 comments. Two posts vied for seventh place with 29 comments apiece: In a Distorting Mirror, a review of a novel by the late great Pratchett, and Aestelology, anyone? my vain attempt to coin a neologism for the hobby of collecting bookmarks. Next comes Mapping Willoughby Chase with 26 replies, an exploration of the geography of Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.
Joint tenth with 25 responses each were a pair of self-evidently book-related discussions entitled Do You Love Libraries? and August’s popular post Shelfies. That left Books of the Dead (24 comments) which, conversely, was not about books in the conventional sense.
Interestingly, since this is primarily a book review blog, the majority of the most popular posts were not reviews but general discussions, though thankfully largely on book-related topics. But that doesn’t mean I shall be stinting on reviews on future though I shall perhaps aim for a few more observational topics, if that’s what readers prefer. And there I shall draw an end to this blogging year, a — shall we say — notably interesting twelve months.
Twenty sixteen proved a year which many felt was without peer
Let’s hope that twenty seventeen will bring more joy than we’ve just seen
Best wishes for a Happier New Year!