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Blogging highlights for 2019

January 2, 2020

Here is the last of my traditional year-end trifecta (the others being my Australian Women Writers’ Challenge wrap-up and Reading highlights posts). This is very self-indulgent, I know, but it interests me!

Top posts for 2019

There hasn’t been a huge change in my top posts – several posts have remained in the list for several years now, and seven of the ten were published over 5 years ago. However, this year has seen a bit of shift, as you’ll see in my comments below.

Trent Dalton, Boy swallows universeHere’s my 2019 Top Ten, by number of hits:

So, the shift. Mainly it’s that I have a new record with six Australian posts appearing in the Top Ten, four more than last year, and two more than the previous record of four. Barbara Baynton is an established regular, though which work/s change from year to year. Last year it was “Squeaker’s mate” while this year “The chosen vessel” returns to the Top Ten. Meanwhile, Red Dog, is here yet again, proving itself to be true blue! However, the BIG news is that for the first time an Australian book has actually topped the Top Ten, Trent Dalton’s Boy swallows universe. This is the same book that was my reading group’s top pick of the year.

Fascinatingly, Mark Twain’s “A presidential candidate”, which popped into the Top Ten last year, has remained there this year. As I said last year, does this have anything to do with you know who? Short stories and essays still feature strongly, but there are just four this year, versus seven last.

Four Australian posts appear in the next ten, and they are an eclectic lot. Two are for works, Barbara Baynton’s “Squeaker’s mate” and Vicki-Laveau-Harvie’s The erratics, and two are author-based posts, Vale Andrew McGahn (1966-2019) and Helen Garner on writers and writing.

Book coverI also like to note how well the posts actually written in the year ranked. Last year the first one came in at 23. This year, the winner, my Boy swallows universe post, romped in at number 1, with more than double the hits of the second ranked post. My next most popular 2019-written posts ranked 15th (Vale Andrew McGahan (1966-2019)) and 18th (Vicki Laveau-Harvie, The erratics). So, three from 2019 in the top 20. Unheard of!

For the Monday Musings fans amongst you, my most popular Monday Musings posts were:

Australian Gothic and Novels set in Sydney were second and first, respectively last year, with 2018’s new release post being third! Not a big change in substance, then. This suggests that our blogs are long-term resources, as well as places for current discussion.

Random blogging stats

The searches

Here’s a selection of 2019’s searches that found my blog:

  • many searches, not surprisingly, related to this year’s top post: the searches included (in order of frequency) boy swallows universe discussion questions, your end is a dead blue wrenboy swallows universe quotes, and boy swallows universe meaning. There were also various permutations of wording searching the meaning of red phone in the book! It’s interesting to see what people might be looking for besides straight reviews.
  • last year I noted that the word “summary” was popular in searches, more so than the previous year’s popular word “analysis“. This year, however, they were more neck and neck.
  • there are people out there clearly looking to prove Dark emu wrong, as some of the more popular searches had wording like dark emu debunked, critics of dark emu and, would you believe, critical reviews of black emu book. This last one suggests that people didn’t know exactly what they are searching for but had been told the work is no good. I don’t think my post would have satisfied them. Anyhow, I’m guessing it’s all these people who helped push this post into the Top Ten this year.
  • although my post on What to say when you order food at a restaurant is still among my Top Posts, there were fewer actual searches recorded for this one. A couple, however, are entertaining. One is: what to do if food is not the way you ordered. I’m not sure my post would have helped that person either. And another: why to say hi at restaurant. Why indeed!
  • I think I can guess what Australian poetry fraud was looking for, the Ern Malley affair.
  • and then, there are always the homework questions like: do you think that john muir made an effective argument for saving the redwoods? why or why not?

I should add the proviso here that many many search terms are not exposed to us bloggers, so the terms I’m sharing above are a small subset.

Other stats

I wrote four fewer posts in 2019 than in 2018, averaging just under 14 posts per month – and yet the traffic on my blog increased by more than 20% over last year. (Then again, last year’s traffic was somewhat lower than the previous year. It’s all a mystery to me!)

Merlinda Bobis Fish-hair womanAustralia, the USA, and Britain, in that order, were the top three countries visiting my blog, as in 2018. In 2017, India was fourth and Canada fifth, while in 2018, the order was reversed. This year, India regained its upper hand over Canada! The Philippines remains 6th for at least the third year, largely, I think, because of interest in Merlinda Bobis’ Fish-hair woman.

I’d like to thank all of you who commented on my blog this year. My comments count increased by around 7% in 2019, which is satisfying because the respectful conversations we have here are very special to me. I particularly want to thank Lisa (ANZLitLovers) and Bill (The Australian Legend) who tolerate, both on my blog and theirs, much contrariness from me. Their tolerance and forbearance (not to mention that of the rest of you who come back here again and again) is a true measure of how positive and respectful social media can be.

Challenges, memes and other things

I only do one challenge, the AWW Challenge, which I wrapped up this week. And I only do one regular Meme, #sixdegreesofseparation run by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest), but I occasionally do others. You can see all the memes I’ve done on my “memes” category link.

I also took part in Lisa’s (ANZLitLovers) Indigenous Literature Week, Bill’s (The Australian Legend) AWW Gen 1 Week, and, more casually, in Nonfiction November run by a group of bloggers, because these all relate closely to my reading interests.

Each year I like to host some guest posts with this year’s coming from Amanda who mostly reviewed titles that were missing from the AWW challenge database, and my brother Ian, who wrote two posts on his attendance at the Hobart Writers’ Festival. To read them, click this link and look at those posted in 2019. A big thanks to Amanda and Ian for their contributions.

A major highlight of the year, though, was my continued involvement as blogging mentor for the New Territory  program sponsored by the ACT Writers Centre, the National Library of Australia, the Canberra Writers Festival and the Street Theatre. The program’s aim is primarily “to stoke cultural conversations in the ACT”. I enjoyed working with Shelley Burr and Rosalind Moran over the second half of the year.

And so, 2020 …

To conclude, a big thanks again to everyone who read, commented on and/or “liked” my blog last year – and to all the other wonderful bloggers out there, even though I don’t always manage to visit everyone as much as I’d like. I wish you all good reading in 2020, and look forward to discussing books with you here or there!

Finally, as I say every year, a very big thanks to the authors who write the books, and to the publishers and booksellers who get the books out there. I hope 2020 will be positive for us all.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2020 11:19 am

    You’re very gentle in your contrariness and you tolerate much crankiness from me, so I think the thanks should go the other way, to you and Lisa, for your support and for your constantly interesting conversation.

    I have no idea why or how people come to my blog, though the most ongoing are for Vance Palmer’s The Rainbow Bird which continues to strike a chord in India, and for posts around Indigenous massacres in WA..

    • January 2, 2020 11:33 am

      Thanks Bill, I’m glad then that I haven’t blotted my copy-book too much.

      Isn’t that fascinating? India and Vance Palmer. The thing I’m pleased about is the apparent ongoing interest – presumably through schools/universities – in Barbara Baynton.

  2. January 2, 2020 3:57 pm

    I find blog statistics to be very interesting. I have seen some odd results pop up in them. I have not dug into mine for this year yet. You are reminding me that I should.

    Happy New Year and happy reading in 2020.

    • January 2, 2020 4:49 pm

      You only should, Brian, if you think it would be fun or interesting! But know that others are very likely to be interested if you do.

  3. January 2, 2020 4:10 pm

    *chuckle* I’ve been known to be a bit contrary myself!
    BTW How do you work out which were your top posts just for this year to compare it with the most popular for last year? I’ve been looking in both the old and the new stats systems and I can’t see how to filter out old posts from the 2019 ones.
    (My top ones are always mostly the African books that I suspect are on US reading lists though I’m very pleased to see my Indigenous reading List and the Indigenous Women’s Reading List are in my top ten. I suspect that this is also related to student use because I know a number of universities link to them from their websites).

    • January 2, 2020 5:07 pm

      For stats, I mostly use the new system (whereas for most everything else I do I use the old).

      So, in the new system, click on Stats, and you get a page that says Stats and Insights. Just under that is a menu bar/row of headings, with on the right Days, Weeks, Months, Years. Click on Years. Then in the bar/column graph, click on 2019. Below that will be a heading Stats for 2019, and just below that to the left is Posts and Pages. It shows the top ten posts and pages for whatever period (2019, in this case) you’ve chosen. Click on View all at the bottom of the list of ten, and you can see the full list for 2019. When I do my Top Ten, I don’t include the pages – like your Indigenous Reading List (for me it’s Australian Literary Awards that appears in the top ten), the Home page/Archives, and the Who Am I? – but just the actual posts. (But that’s just my personal preference) Once I’ve viewed all, I can look for whatever I want – the top ten, the first Aussie, the first 2019 post, etc etc. You can download the data as a csv document and play with it offline it you wish to.

      Using this method you can get all sorts of stats for different periods. You can click on 2018 of course to get last year’s posts. But I did last year’s in last year’s post so I had that info ready to go and didn’t have to find it again.

      Let me know if this is not what you are looking for, or can’t find it.

  4. January 2, 2020 6:49 pm

    I do like these posts! I was just looking at my own stats. Some of those search ones are a bit funny at times.

    • January 2, 2020 9:29 pm

      They sure are, Theresa. It was better before Google started suppressing them though. As a librarian by training I’m interested in searching. …

  5. January 3, 2020 6:47 am

    I always love the searches you get! That homework one cracked me up! The kid typed the entire assignment question in! That is delightful and sad all at once.

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