But, before I launch into my usual analysis, I must send a huge shout-out to Bill (The Australian Legend) for the astonishing effort he put in this year to help me keep my blog going during the sad months of my mother’s late-diagnosed illness and death. He coordinated four Monday Musings guest posts (from Lisa, Kate and Michelle, as well as himself, even proposing topics in case they needed inspiration). And, inspired by Karen’s (BookerTalk) post on reblogging, he curated a series of reblogged posts from my early days, which we titled Bill curates. It was a stellar effort and I’m immensely grateful to him (and to Lisa, Michelle and Kate) for helping me out during those times. It may sound silly but it significantly helped my well-being to have these posts lined up to keep my beloved blog ticking along. Thanks Bill.
Top posts for 2020
Until last year, my top posts have changed minimally, but last year’s little shift has held – a little! However, there is still a set of “usual suspects” posts reappearing year after year, and it’s still true that most of the posts are over 5 years old. Whatever these top posts are, though, I always wonder why them? Some are probably set school texts, but the rest?
Here’s my 2020 Top Ten, ordered by number of hits:
- Trent Dalton’s Boy swallows universe (January 2019)
- Mark Twain, “A presidential candidate” (August 2016)
- Merlinda Bobis, Fish-hair woman (April 2012)
- Edith Wharton, “A journey” (November 2010)
- Barbara Baynton, “The chosen vessel” (November 2012)
- What do you say when you order food at a restaurant (November 2014)
- Jack London, “War” (March 2010)
- ABRs Top Twenty Aussie novels of the 21st Century (September 2019)
- Wallace Stegner, Crossing to safety (June 2014)
- Graham Greene, Travels with my aunt (March 2017)
None of these were actually published in 2020, which is the norm except for last year’s little aberration when Trent Dalton hit the top spot. What other observations can I make?
- Red Dog has slipped out of the Top Ten (into the Top Twenty) for the first time since it was published in 2011.
- Last year’s record of six Australian posts in the Top Ten did not last, but Australians still make a showing!
- Barbara Baynton continues to be an established Top Ten regular.
- Why is ABR’s Top Twenty list here? Were locked-down readers looking for reading recommendations? And, old Stegner and Greene posts are new here. Why them? Good lockdown reading?
- Mark Twain’s “A presidential candidate”, which popped into the Top Ten in 2018 and remained there in 2019, appears again, but has risen to 2nd spot! I wonder why?!
- Short stories and essays still feature strongly, with four again this year.
Four Australian posts appear in the next ten, as in 2019, but they are all different. Barbara Baynton remains, just with a different story, “A dreamer”! The others are Shaun Tan’s Eric, the slowly-slipping Red dog, and, out-of-the-blue it seems to me, a 2014 Delicious descriptions: Clare Wright’s sources on the Australian landscape.
But what about posts actually written in 2020? How did they fare? After last year’s little aberration, this year returned to normal (whatever that is) with my top-ranked 2020-written post coming quite down the list. Here are the Top Ten 2020-published posts (excluding Monday Musings) – an eclectic bunch that tells us, what?:
- Tara June Winch’s The yield (24th, April)
- Angela Thirkell’s Trooper to the Southern Cross (31st, January)
- Vale My Magnificent Mum (34th, June)
- Living under COVID-19 (35th, March)
- Favel Parrett’s There was still love (56th, June)
- Joan Didion’s “Quiet days in Malibu” (62nd, January)
- Heather Rose’s Bruny (63rd, April)
- Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence (67th, October)
- Writing War: A panel discussion about war and historical writing (69th, April)
- World Poetry Day 2020 (72nd, March)
My most popular Monday Musings posts were:
- Some new releases in 2020 (January 2020)
- Australian Gothic (19th century) (December 2012)
- Allen & Unwin’s House of Books (July 2020)
My New Releases posts seem popular, having featured the last two years. Australian Gothic has also featured in the top three for a few years. But, I’m surprised to see Allen & Unwin’s House of Books, which was only published in July, appearing as the third most popular Monday Musings this year.
Random blogging stats
One of my favourite parts of this highlights post is sharing some of the search terms used to reach my blog, but this year that aspect of the end-of-year stats has been flakey. However, I did glean a few that might interest – and hopefully, entertain – you.
- several searches seemed to be for a school or college assignment about Sherwood Anderson’s short story “Adventure”. The searches included: who should be blame for alice’s tragedy; alice is the one to be blamed for her tragedy. do you agree?; explain. adventure sherwood anderson; and explain the significance of the title ‘adventure’ by anderson. Don’t you love how some have just typed in the whole question?
- I have reviewed an essay by Sebastian Smee but I don’t think that will have helped this searcher: does wellesley have a non-credit on-line course taught by sebastian smee
- relevant to this year’s second top post, here is one search: what type of satire is mark twain’s a presidential candidates
- and, my favourite: word association. what comes into your mind about australian literature? You know what I’m going to ask: What words come to your mind when you think about Aussie lit?
I wrote thirteen (nearly 8%) fewer posts in 2020 than in 2019, averaging under 13 posts per month. This resulted in a small drop in my blog traffic.
Australia, the USA, Britain, in that order, continue to be the top three countries visiting my blog. The next three slots went, respectively, to India, the Philippines and Canada. India has been fourth for two of the last three years but, this year, the Philippines jumped from its usual 6th place to 5th, edging out Canada. This is largely due to Philippine-born Merlinda Bobis’ Fish-hair woman.
I’d like to thank all of you who commented on my blog this year. I’m thrilled that, although my blog traffic dropped a little this year, my comments count increased by 12%, which is heart-warming because the conversations have to be one of blogging’s biggest delights. The friendly but fearless sharing of sometimes opposing ideas – you know who you are! – demonstrates that social media can be positive and respectful.
Challenges, memes and other things
I only do one challenge, the AWW Challenge, which I wrapped up last week, and one regular meme, #sixdegreesofseparation run by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest). I occasionally do others, which you can find on my “memes” category link.
I also took part in Lisa’s (ANZLitLovers) Indigenous Literature and Thea Astley weeks, Bill’s (The Australian Legend) AWW Gen 3 Week, and, more casually, in Nonfiction November, because all these align with my reading practice.
Each year, I like to host some guest posts but I have already mentioned these in my opening paragraph. You can find them at this link.
Being blogging mentor for the New Territory program has been a major highlight over recent years. It was set to continue, until you-know-what. I don’t know whether it will return next year. Meanwhile, I have enjoyed following the writings of several “alumni” who are continuing their literary reviewing and criticism journeys. Rosalind Moran’s well-timed Overland post on the value (or not) of lists, caught the eye of several bloggers over the last month! Amy Walters has revamped her website to include links to her other writings, and Angharad has continued to be an active blogger as well as occasionally writing other articles. Shelley Burr, on the other hand, won a Debut Dagger for her Aussie noir unpublished manuscript, Wake. How lucky am I to know these great young women.
And so, 2021 …
As I say every year, a big thanks to everyone who read, commented on and/or “liked” my blog last year – and to all you other wonderful bloggers out there. I’m really sorry that I don’t always manage to visit everyone as much as I’d like. I wish you all good reading in 2021, and look forward to discussing books with you at your place or mine!
Finally, huge thanks to the authors, publishers and booksellers who make it all possible (and who have put up with my extreme tardiness this year). Let’s hope 2021 will be better for us all.