2020’s reading recap

First things first: are we friends on Goodreads? This site has transitioned more and more into a books-and-video-games site over the last couple of years, so if you’re still reading but not following me on GR you really ought to be.

In terms of quantity of books read, I had basically the same year as last year– around 50K pages, currently 138 books, possibly to hit 139 if I manage to finish The Lightning Thief before bed. Here’s the entire list:

Uuuuugggghhhh Eloquent Rage is in that list twice. Well, fine, 137-138 books, then, assuming everything that should be there is there. I’m not worrying about it. It’s a lot.

More numbers: 69 of the books I read, nearly exactly half, were by authors who were new to me. The big winner this year was S.L. Huang, who I read four different books by; other authors who I read more than one book from include Rachel Caine, Rin Chupeco, Daniel Ford, Claudia Gray, Kevin Hearne, Justina Ireland, N.K. Jemisin, R.F. Kuang, Seanan McGuire, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Tamsyn Muir, Mark Oshiro, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Emily Tesh and John Wyndham. As usual, I didn’t do enough rereading this year. I always feel like I didn’t do enough rereading, though, so … whatever. I ended up reading 62 books by women of color, so I assume once you add in the white women a solid majority of my reading was by women this year. Roughly 30 were by white men.

Minor update to the #readaroundtheworld project: I am a data nerd; you know this, because look at this post, and so I’ve decided that every book counts, because that means that at the end of the year I get to notice that I read four books by Texans but only three from Michiganders and pretend that means something. I’m still trying to fill the map up as best I can, so expect a post one year from now that once again says that I didn’t do enough rereading, but there’s no reason not to just nerd out on book geography for everything rather than trying to find the One True Representative for each country. I’ve already caught myself thinking about arranging the order of the books I’m reading so that I get somebody cool to represent the UK and not some rando and I just can’t be about that life right now, so I’ll keep track of all of them. Authors from underrepresented countries will still get featured on Instagram, but I’m not going to do every book.

Still might be one more post today, but it won’t pop until tonight if it does.

Unread Shelf: December 31, 2020

See, this looks like I’ve made progress from last month, but only because you don’t see the pile of books that Amazon is literally dropping off at my door right now because my office has a view of the driveway and I just saw the guy. If I hit post before I pick them up they don’t count.

Blogwanking 2020

I’m not doing a saleswanking post this year– I had no new releases, and went to no cons, and didn’t really market my books at all or, really, do anything to make people remember I occasionally write fiction other than a handful of haiku and short stories on Patreon, so I’m not even looking up how many books I sold this year. I would be surprised if it ended up being more than a couple dozen.

But the blog?

You’re not going to see these words in this order very often, but: 2020 was a very good year, if only in this one minor respect. The blog, no doubt because everyone was home all the goddamned time, had the best year it’s had since the Great Virality of 2015-16. Check the stats:

68000 page views and 40K visitors are both up from last year, and in fact are both up from any year since 2016, which still benefited from the Syria post; it’s possible that without the big bump from that post this would have been the best year since 2014, which continues to make no mathematical sense. Comments are also up, although Likes are down a bit, which is frankly the least important to me of the various metrics I’m looking at.

Why? Well, to start, I wrote a lot:

Highest total posts since 2016, more than one a day, and there were only a handful of days this year where I didn’t post. More words than any year since 2015, and the second-highest words per post of all time. Ultimately the only gripe I can come up with looking at this is that I’d still like to see a lot more engagement and comments, but I keep hearing about how blogs are dead, so maybe that’s why I don’t get as many comments as I used to, and that 5.8 comments number in 2014 isn’t exactly a hotbed of competing opinions.

Total word count over seven and some change years: 1,181,069, not counting this post. That’s … a lot.

Let’s talk posts next. No secret, because this has been the case for years: a lot of site traffic is driven by my perennial posts, and none of the top 10 posts on the site were written this year. This is just an image, but here’s the overall top 10 posts and the number of hits they got:

None of this makes any sense to me, particularly the fact that the fucking Snowpiercer post is still my second-highest yearly views.

This year’s top 10 posts, in order from highest to lowest traffic, are:

Nothing completely inexplicable in there except maybe for that one Monthly Reads post; I’m not sure why that one post would have done so much better than all the rest of them, and the Christmas Abortion Story post was only written five days ago and is on the list already, which is either a sign that the top 10 posts of this year are really weak or that it’s maybe heading toward blowing up. We’ll see if it keeps showing up next week or not.

Geography? Let’s talk geography. This is this year:

And this is over the life of the blog:

And I gotta be honest, y’all: I look at that and I’m proud of it. My stupid little website isn’t making me any money and it isn’t making me famous, but people from damn near every country on Earth have visited it. I mean, what’s left? North Korea and Turkmenistan, both of which are dictatorships; Svalbard Island, where less than 3,000 people live, and several countries in Africa where I suspect reading Western blogs is not a high priority.

Basically, I feel like I have a chance to land a lucky hit from Svalbard at some point, and the rest of them are probably never happening.

I thought about finishing this post with some goals for next year, and … honestly, I’m dialing back on the entire concept of “goals” right now. My one social media goal is to have more followers on TikTok than on Twitter by the end of next year, and I bet that’ll be the case by the end of this school year. For the blog? I’m going to keep writing; this place has been part of my daily life for over seven years and that’s not changing any time soon. I’d like to see those higher numbers become a trend and not a blip, but I’m not going to break my neck over it.

Seriously, though, if one of you ends up heading to the far north or North Korea at some point, make sure to hit the blog up.

Okay, I’m done now

I think this is the actual final decision, barring some very minor font and color tweaks. I like how it looks on mobile, I like the big header image (I’m losing the rotation, but that’s okay,) I like the floating social media links on the left even if it doesn’t display icons for Goodreads and Patreon correctly, and I like the way the site title and sub-pages look.

There is still probably one more actual post coming tonight– I need to get moving on my end-of-year stuff– but I think I’m done with wholesale site changes for the time being.

Still fiddling with themes

It might be that I need to go back to Lovecraft (the theme I’ve been using for the last couple of years) and just dig into learning how to customize it a bit more, because my favorite thing about the old theme was the huge header image that scaled with the width of the window, and I can’t find another one that works the same way. That said, I like the way this puts post information off to the left rather than underneath it, and if this works the way I think it should the image below will also spill off to the left:

I like the look of that a *lot*.

I did also figure out how to fix the links up top, and that knowledge should work for whatever theme I choose, so that won’t be an issue any longer. We’ll continue to mess around with it before I settle on something that will stick around for a while.

EDIT: This one’s dead boring on mobile. If I could finagle blowing up that top image (the cover of BA 1) and putting it behind the text, that would really help. There’s probably a way to do it.