Nearing journey’s end

Yay, it’s that time of year again when we glance back over twelve years of things mostly bookish, and I express heartfelt indebtedness to casual readers and followers alike for their likes, comments and even reblogs.

Meanwhile my Goodreads page tells me that I’ve achieved 135% of my 2019 reading goal, having completed 70 books compared to the planned 52. Not crowing or anything but I hope my commentaries have emphasised quality over quantity — especially as the shortest title is only eight pages long!

So, as with many of you fellow bloggers, we’ve at that point when we indulge in retrospection and reflection, the R & R of all dedicated readers. I don’t intend to bombard you with the full details of stats — I’ll leave the My Year in Books Goodreads page to do that — but I do beg your indulgence while I point out a few of my highlights.

Looking back I note a proponderance of fantasy titles; I really don’t need to apologise for them, nor for the fact that many of them may have originally been intended for an audience of younger readers, whether pre-teen or young adult: regular readers know that I don’t regard fantasy as intrinsically inferior to ‘serious’ literature or somehow merely ‘escapist’. As a matter of fact I’ve also covered a wide range of fiction genres and have enjoyed some non-fiction on a couple or more subjects.

So, in alphabetical order those fiction genres include crime (amateur detective, police procedural etc), dystopia, fantasy, graphic novels, historical fiction, humour, magic realism, parody, picture books, romance, satire, science fiction and short stories, along with 19th-century and ‘modern’ classics (mostly this means 20th-century). In non-fiction I’ve looked at studies on medieval literature, early medieval history and children’s fiction; essays on environmentalism and politics; and a discussion on tricky questions asked of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

I also found it interesting to see the geographical spread of authors. A large majority of the writers are British — some, indeed, from Wales where I live — but there are also representatives from (again in alphabetical order) Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the US. However, I’m acutely aware that there is a world of writing, in translation as well as in English, beyond Europe and North America, and it’s my intention to stop shilly-shallying and explore outside these confines next year. As for age range, these books cover the continuum between teenager Greta Thunberg to authors who knew they were approaching death, such as Vita Sackville-West.

Now to gender balance. I read seventy books, by sixty different authors. Of the authors, twenty-nine (29) were female and thirty-one (31) were male: roughly 48:52 — coincidentally a figure some UK voters might find familiar.

On the surface I seem not to have achieved an ideal balancing act. But when I look at the books themselves, I see that 37 of the 70 were by those twenty-nine female writers, due to the fact that I’ve completed two or even three titles by some of them. That’s 53:47. In contrast, I can point to only one male author I’ve read more than once, and that was a trilogy.

And now it’s time to express grateful thanks to all those who’ve looked at and reacted to posts. This year views have topped 20,000 (though with marginally fewer visitors).

‘Likes’ have gone from a little under 3000 to approaching 4000, though that’s probably due to an increase in post frequency.

And finally, you good people have not been backward in coming forward with your thoughts, wishes and, occasionally, welcome critiques.

And what, I hear you demand, of 2020’s plans and how they compare with 2019’s? Ah, for those you will have to wait just a little while longer.

26 thoughts on “Nearing journey’s end

  1. One of the literary highlights of my 2019 has been discovering your blog, Chris. I love reading it, although I may not always comment. Thank you and I hope you’ve enjoyed a happy Christmas. Looking forward to sharing your reading in 2020.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s extremely generous of you, and even though it doesn’t totally overcome my imposter syndrome I’m very grateful for these kind comments here and for those on other posts. I do hope to return the favour and follow you in 2020, but after I’ve done a bit of tidying up on my blogs — I see I follow 90-odd bloggers, for example, a rather unwieldy number though I know a few must be redundant by now.

      I do hope your Christmas was everything you hoped for, and that the new year — though it promises to be inauspicious — doesn’t result in the sky falling down on our heads … yet! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, Bart again 😉 I just wanted to say I liked that you published your stats. I’ve been posting a lot less the last 2 years (about 2 posts/month), and most of these posts don’t get as much likes as they used to, so sometimes it feels like I’m doing less well, so stats like yours – from a blog I consider very succesful- are a nice comparison.

    It’s especially interesting to see different metrics of success: if I compare likes and comments, you do way, way better (361 likes this year for me, 3,840 for you, and about the same tenfold difference in comments to 314 vs. your 3639), but if I look at the number of views and visitors, it’s nice to know I’m doing not that bad at all (almost 15,000 views, and over 8,600 visitors for me this year, which is not that far of your 20,000 views and 8,378 visitors).

    In a way it’s a bit stupid of me to concern myself with stats, as I alwasy say that I blog mainly for myself, but I admit that if no one was reading, I’d stop doing it, so there’s more to it that “for myself”. I’ll see if I can wriggle in a bit of stats in my own year end posts (which has been in the works for weeks), I didn’t do that before as I thought it maybe is a bit too much ego, but now I see it might be interesting for other bloggers.

    Anyhow, thanks, and keep up the good work – even though I’m not a YA or children’s reader, it’s always nice to observe from a distance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for getting back to me after that comments glitch, Bart — I shall have to check all my posts on WP Admin from now on rather than relying on the smartphone app — and for your observations.

      I wonder if you have many more followers who aren’t on WP but who receive email notifications when you post: most of my followers are bloggers on WordPress, with rather fewer on different platforms or merely getting notifications, and that just may explain the seeming discrepancies in our relative stats.

      As for ‘blogging for oneself’ I too think I’d be kidding myself if I believed it wasn’t for conversations or — okay, I admit it — compliments. As for stats, yes there’s a soupçon of trumpet-blowing and drum-beating there but, as you say, it can also be interesting or even helpful for other reflective bloggers.

      Anyway, I anticipate your coming navel-gazing and, ditto, while our reading tastes may not always overlap I do enjoy reading your always stimulating points of view on diverse subjects!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Most of my followers are WP, but I don’t know if they use the reader or email notifications. I guess most of my really successful posts are read by non-followers.

        I think I started the blog for myself, organizing thoughts, but as it grew, success became a bit addictive as well. There was a time I chose what to read in function of the blog, but those times are luckily over – but I admit that’s also because I don’t have as much reading time as I used to.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. It’s not really a shame, but rather a matter of priorities. I imagine that the older my children become, the more time will be freed again. We’ll see how that turns out…


  3. Seeing your mention of the Goodreads data nudged me to look at my own info (I’d forgotten you could get this insight). It was a good reminder to me that the number of books people read is only one part of the story. I used to be in a Library Thing group where some people were reading about 150-200 books a year (I think I’ve never managed more than 65) but for all I know they could be really thin books – which is why I like the Goodreads info on number of pages read…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once upon a time I used to do all my social media literary stuff on LibraryThing, but once I moved to blogging that all went by the board. In fact, I haven’t updated my catalogue on LT in over a year (though I have on Goodreads).

      Still, the stats info on LT works differently, doesn’t it: pie charts of where your books/authors originate, gender balance and so on, only not year by year, just in total.


  4. Great stats! I’m really pleased to see your average rating is 4.2. Mine is 4.3 and I often wonder if I’m too ready to give the full five stars, but then since I only read books I expect to love it would be disappointing to end up with an average of 3 or something. Quality definitely counts over quantity and one can tell by the depth of your commentary that you’re not a skim reader! I’ve enjoyed discovering your blog this year – we may not share a love for fantasy but your classics commentaries have often given me food for thought. Keep up the good work! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, the admiration is mutual! And I’m glad we’re agreed on the quality-over-quantity aspect — I too tend to go for titles I have every expectation of enjoying, for what’s the point of spending time reading what reputed to be dross?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s interesting once in a while to see a little bit of a statistics breakdown, and of course some graphs! Thanks for sharing. I also like that you’ve mentioned the age range of authors – I think generational boundaries are discussed frequently and reinforced by the media at the moment, often in a way which suggests we don’t have much in common with people outside our own age bracket, and I think engaging with books from authors of different ages could be one way to combat this perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Isobel. I think Greta Thunberg is the youngest by far of the authors I’ve read, however, and I don’t know how many of these speeches she actually ‘wrote’ or if they were mostly delivered extempore. But there are a lot of youngish authors out there — and by youngish I mean those that are way less than half my current age!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Heartfelt thanks to you, Chris, for your always engaging blog! It cheers me up just to know you’re out there, reading and writing in your unique style. I wish you an abundance of joy in 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Engaging” is an epithet I’ll take, Lory, thanks! “Unique” too. 😊 I have to say I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from bloggers like you for stimulating and insightful pieces, though I still haven’t learnt to rein in the verbosity…

      Let’s hope that the ‘love and joy’ expressed in carols that has been significantly lacking in the last few years does indeed come flooding back in 2020, we’ve endured a drought for far too long.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Alyson Woodhouse

    One of the highlights of my year has been discovering the book blogging community, your own blog amongst them. I’ve especially enjoyed reading your thoughts on fantasy, Children and YA fiction, and the classics. I look forward to reading your plans for 2020 soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Alyson, you characterise my reading preferences so well — I sense that fantasy, classics and fiction for younger readers have much to value and guide us in a world where most news is bad news and the the lesson seems to be that wickedness pays. Thank goodness that, in amongst all the dubious blogs encouraging us to part with money in order to make more money there are those celebrating books and the innocent pleasure they bring.


  8. I love looking at others’ analysis of their stats and yours are great. I agree, if it matters to you, pages read is probably a better indicator than number of books, but this year I read quite a lot of poetry – and read many of those poems twice or more – but only counted the pages singly, so it still needs to be taken as fun. I still use LT over Goodreads, but mainly for cataloguing my books, I don’t really socialise there. My stats post tomorrow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m eagerly anticipating your stats review now, Annabel, but agree, they need to be taken with a pinch of salt and, anyway, can only tell some of the story. I keep meaning to read more poetry — perhaps 2020 will see that intention coming true! — but for the moment find there’s actually a lot of prose poetry in fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

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