Oof, it’s hard to believe I’ve been writing Lizok’s Bookshelf for a full year! Blogging is more fun than I’d expected, thanks to readers and subscribers who’ve written comments and e-mail. A big thanks to all of you!
Beyond finding that blogging’s a great way to organize my thoughts and save links about what I’ve read, I love looking at statistics showing which pages are most popular among readers who arrive at The Shelf via search engines. Some impressions:“The Overcoat” and Ice. I’ve read and enjoyed Gogol’s “Overcoat” many times over the years but never would have guessed it had such a big following! Another popular page is my entry called “Vladimir Sorokin’s ‘Ice Capades,’” about Sorokin’s novel Ice. Some people arrive there by mistake, searching, it seems, for the history of the Ice Capades.
The Ice page’s popularity spiked sharply on Monday thanks to this Russian-language article about the Russian publishing industry by Aleksandr Ivanov, head of Ad Marginem, which published Ice in Russian. Ivanov linked to my piece to illustrate how American critics (why, thank you!) read Ice with perplexity, seeing it as “literary ‘неликвид,’” something literarily illiquid… whether he intended “illiquid” as a bilingual pun on water and ice or a reminder of global financial problems, I was thrilled for the link. And in good company: the piece also linked to The Complete Review.
Other Big Searches. Other popular search terms include “Dina Rubina” and anything related to Liudmila Ulitskaia (Ulitskaya), reinforcing my impression of their popularity among readers of literary fiction. Kuprin’s Garnet Bracelet is unexpectedly popular among visitors, as is Dostoevsky’s The Possessed.
Big Book Shelves. Lots of people seem to think I sell furniture, including “big book shelves.” I don’t, but writing about the Big Book Awards seems to draw people in need of places to store their home libraries. For the record, at least one of Lizok’s actual bookshelves is from Mill Stores, a New England purveyor of unfinished book cases. They’re not at all fancy, but they’re affordable, functional, and finishable, perfect for my mud room-based library.
A List of Big Books. Lots of visitors come here looking for Russian literature reading lists or suggestions of big books to read. I’m going to work on a “Greatest Hits” post but here’s a rather random list of some good thick books. Please feel free to add your contribution in a comment.Lev Tolstoy’s War and Peace (my favorite, up for a rereading this winter)
Anatolii Rybakov’s Children of the Arbat
Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita
Favorite Big Books from Beyond Russia:
Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy
Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables
Robertson Davies’s Deptford Trilogy
Finally, a Russian Birthday Song. This episode of Чебурашка (Cheburashka) includes Crocodile Gena’s rendition of the Russian birthday song. The song gets me every time I hear it: the lyrics include “unfortunately, birthdays are only once a year,” and the music sounds decidedly minor key. (At least to my ear…) Song lyrics are available here, and there’s plenty of information about Cheburashka on Wikipedia in Russian and English.
Thank you for your visits!
Signing off to get ready for my second blogging year,
Cupcake photo: nazreth, via stock.xchng