2021 facts, figures and failures

The end of the bookblogging year is traditionally the time for graphs, diagrams and stats, so who am I to break the mould or trample on the template? But, honestly, who analyses other bloggers’ figures with a critical eye, does more than nod approval at big numbers or mutter more than consolatory noises when targets aren’t met?

So, yes, I shall be throwing the odd integer around, presenting the odd percentage and tantalising with what could have been but was not, but mainly I will be seeking to entertain, to lighten the mood as we hurtle towards the end of another tumultuous twelvemonth period.

And, of course, it’s all about the reading, and the books, and the pleasure.

Warning! Fantastic entities aheadUnicorn logo © C A Lovegrove

Okay, some proper stats now. For the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2021 I unambitiously aimed for 66 titles, knowing that with the world still turned upside down nothing was certain except that things would be very uncertain. In the event, I seem to have achieved 87 books read and reviewed. That’s around a third more titles than I initially hoped for, and the most works I’ve read in one year since 2014, when I first responded to the challenge. Huzzah! Win!

The other challenge I mostly aim to complete comes from the Classics Club, and here — despite some bobbing and weaving by changing end date and titles —  the results don’t look good: by year’s end I’ll still be 13 classics short of my target of 50. Sad face. Fail. Recalibrate.

Memes? Well, as elucidated in my Year of Reading Randomly post, I appear to have joined in, and even in one or two cases initiated, over twenty of these; and though I may have artfully shoehorned a few of these in to suit my reading preferences, to some extent they’ve achieved their purpose in encouraging me to escape the confines of my comfort zone. Success!

Now some WordPress figures. Probably because of my increased posting rate virtually all the stats have exceeded previous records: I’ve had 33,000 views and 15,000 visitors, while comments are approaching 4K. ‘Likes’ however are scarcely matching last year’s; this may be due to a number of factors, not least my recent shameful neglect of bloggers who I’m supposed to follow. I shall try harder in 2022.

But it’s all about the books, and their ideas, and the reactions to them. My most viewed post was my review of The Holy Kingdom, a horrendous pseudohistorical Arthurian title which garnered more than a quarter of all Calmgrove views, thanks to its being linked on some fanboy site or other. This was followed more distantly by my review of the first of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising novels, a discussion of whether my part of Wales inspired part of Tolkien’s Shire, an exploration of themes in Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass and, fifthly, a speculative look at the origins of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Castle. Fantasy (in Welsh, ffantasi) in all its forms seems to be the common denominator here, doesn’t it.

Right, by now your brains will have been frizzled by so much minutiae so I think it’s time to call a halt. All that remains is for me (a) to declare that my New Year’s resolve could well coalesce around my blog’s mission statement (‘Exploring the world of ideas through books‘ — and why not?); and (b) to wish everyone, in the time-honoured Welsh fashion,

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi pawb!

Preseli farmhouse which we once called home for a decade and more. © C A Lovegrove

Resolutions? I’ve had a few — but that’s for another post…

43 thoughts on “2021 facts, figures and failures

  1. Blwyddyn Newydd Dda Chris !

    Ok, so you didn’t read as many of the classic club books as you anticipated but in the big scheme of things, it doesn’t matter too much does it? You still read a lot of books you enjoyed and ultimately that matters more than how many boxes you tick in a list. Not meaning to preach here – you already know this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Classic Club challenge has mostly served its purpose now as a leg up to read more classics, but I’ll still hang on to the remaining titles on my list as a reminder of what to dip into when I’m not sure what next to go with! And I now read loads of classics anyway, so what the heck! Hope the New Year starts well for you and continues without too much hindrance for the following weeks and months. Iechyd da! 🙂


  2. Happy New Year Chris 🙂 Glad you were able to surpass your reading goal and had so many enjoyable reads. Wishing you a great year with lots more wonderful reading and blogging in 2022–I shall look out for your very enjoyable posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jo, and to you too! I think I’m going to less obsessive in terms of quantity this year, it’ll be I hope all about the quality! As for the drawing it was a design for a Christmas card around 2007 or 2008 I think, drawn in autumn but imagining what it would be like when the snow eventually came — which it did, and the vision matched, luckily. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought that farmhouse looked familiar. Artist?

    As for your stats, highly commendable all around. I’ve dropped to almost no reviews at all, but I’m feeling the urge to get back to it. No promises, mind you. We’ll see what comes.

    Best wishes to you for a year full of happy successes in all your endeavors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The artist is … me! Done one autumn, imagining what it might look like if it snowed that year, and reproduced and sent out as a Christmas card.

      I think you’re forgiven a reduction in reviews, Lizzie, given that you commit to NaNoWriMo every year and doubtless spend subsequent months refining!

      And all the best to you and yours too, with hopes for a better year than we’ve experienced over the last little while (though it feels almost an eternity!). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well you definitely have “entertained and lightened the mood”, thank you, Chris. Your reading figures and achievements are nudging me to make resolutions now! Happy new year and I’m looking forward to following your fascinating posts in 2022.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear, I don’t mean to occasion the burden of added resolutions, Anne! In fact I’m going to try to be less, not more, obsessive in 2022, posting at a more sustainable rate, mixing in a few more lengthy titles (principally classics) which will result in a lower number of books read. But my plans are always liable to go agly so we’ll see what emerges! Best wishes for the coming months, with more superb books to enjoy. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy New Year Chris – I’m a bit rubbish when it comes to stats, apart from number of books read, and I do know I read a few more than usual last year. Look forward to continuing on with the Narniathon and seeing what else you read!


  6. I always enjoy these end-of-year summaries and reflections. So thanks, Chris.
    And one good thing about 2021 was that I started to follow your blog. Not much of a fantasy fan here, but…so what?

    All the best to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly, Josie, its the characterisation and the ideas that I look for in fiction, and whether it’s in genre or mainstream fiction it’s all grist to the mill for me!

      And I return best wishes for 2022 and the welcome return of any sanity that it might offer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A good year! I keep my Likes separate from who visits my blog – I sit and go through my Feedly read and like and comment (I do unfollow people who never reply to comments, though, and try to reply to all mine eventually). Anyway, looks like a good year and I hope you have another in 2022!


    1. Thank you so much, Liz, I do value the blogging community, all of whom help to keep me sane! Sadly I also follow around 90 blogs and it’s a job to keep up with them otherwise I’d be following more… Ho hum,

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, impressive, not just in terms of quantity of books read but also for the range, whether in different languages or in translation, subject matter or medium. Being retired I can take my time with the pace I read at and with writing reviews but I take my hat off to those like you who have other commitments but still get to accomplish much! Good luck with 2022. 🙂


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