Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy First Birthday to My Blog!

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)

Vasilii Grossman’s Life and Fate

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


  1. Congrats on the first year! Great idea to have a blog birthday, haha *takes notes*

  2. с днем рождения! мне очень нравится читать твой блог потому, что у тебя всегда есть что-то интересного и нобого о книгах и писателах. некоторых из них я хорошо знаю а некоторых (особенно писателов современных) я совсем не знаю...

    и между прочим я тоже люблю чебурашку :)

  3. Thank you!

    JA, I realized too late that celebrating a blog birthday is a great opportunity for cake... I wish the cupcake had been in my own kitchen!

    cat, спасибо большое за добрые слова! Что касается Чебурашки, у меня на столе много лет стоит совсем крошечный Чебурашка-талисман. Фотки твои мне очень нравятся -- такие интересные моменты из жизни!

  4. Happy Birthday! I am always looking forward to your blog postings (though a bit terrified by the multitude of interesting links to follow). Your thoughtful unpretentious and judicious postings taught me a lot. Spasibo!

  5. Congratulations - I'm looking forward to the Greatest Hits list.

  6. Uncle Vanya, I know what you mean about the links -- the multitude scares me sometimes, too, because there's always so much more that I want to read!

    AR, I think it will be lots of fun to compile the Greatest Hits list... and it will surely include "The Overcoat."

    Thanks to both of you for your greetings!

  7. Happy birthday to your blog - sounds like it's been a fun year!

  8. Hi Liska,

    Happy Blog Birthday!

    You've done a great job. This site is really impressive. :)

    take care,


  9. Thanks so much, Rachel and Tasha!

    It truly is fun to write this stuff, so I'm looking forward to more... Tasha, I swear that entry with Akunin will be coming soon!

  10. Happy birthday, Lisa! I have been enjoying your blog for quite some time now. your blog is one of the causes for me thinking about taking up reading fiction in Russian again (haven't taken the plunge yet, though), so thank you for that!

    I hope there'll be many more birthdays!

  11. Thank you!

    Myrthe, I'm so happy to hear you're considering reading in Russian again! I probably told you this before, but I definitely recommend starting with something contemporary and suspenseful, like detective novels. I got back into Russian reading with Akunin's Fandorin books, but anything that looks fun will do. I bet you can get a good selection in Yerevan!