Sunday, October 16, 2011

Four Years with The Bookshelf

The cupcake is back, marking the end of my fourth year writing Lizok’s Bookshelf. With four years of blogging in the books (as they say) it was fun to take my annual look at a few trends on the blog, to see where visitors live and what brought them here. A few things have changed but there’s one constant: it’s always a pleasure to thank you, the readers who come here, for your visits and for the many recommendations, ideas, and pieces of advice you’ve offered, in blog comments, by e-mail, and in person.

I seem to say this every year but I’ll say it again: when I contemplated starting the blog four years ago, I never, ever would or could have thought that I would meet so many new friends and colleagues through The Bookshelf! It’s great to know there’s so much interest in Russian fiction.

Here are a few of my annual report statistics:

Geography. The countries with the most visitors never seem to change: United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Canada, and Italy are still the top five countries. The top city has shifted, though, with New York and Moscow edging out London. I should point out, however, that Londoners take longer visits than New Yorkers or Muscovites. The next three cities in the top ten are Perm’, Milwaukee, and Oxford. There was a slight decrease in visits during summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

Popular Posts. The most popular post of the fiscal year was also a change: The Top 10 Fiction Hits of Russian Literature knocked the “Overcoat” post out of the top spot for the first time. Posts about Baldaev’s Drawings from the Gulag and Pushkin’s Belkin Tales were, respectively, the third and fourth most popular for the year.

Common and Odd Search Terms. Common terms first: Variations on Elena Chizhova’s name continue to come up often, and the Russian Booker Prize is also a draw. Other popular combinations for searches included Oleg Pavlov’s Asystole, the afore-mentioned Drawings from the Gulag, and Venedikt Erofeev’s Moscow to the End of the Line. Several translators’ names come up regularly, too, and many readers come looking for information on award winners beyond the Booker.

This fall brought fewer odd searches than previous years but here are a few:

  • Lizok’s Bookstore: This one, which came up quite a few times, makes me happy, if only because I sometimes wish I did own a bookstore. Other visitors continue to come to the blog looking for bookshelves of various types.
  • I’m happy: Happy people visited from 10 cities, two in India, and eight others scattered all over the rest of the world. Numerous variations—e.g. happy face—popped up, too. The happy crowd gets funneled to a post about Oleg Zaionchkovskii’s Happiness Is Possible.
  • First story of potatoes: I’m not sure what this person was looking for, but s/he was directed to a post about Oleg Pavlov’s Barracks Tale. Another book involving potatoes (fried, my favorite) is Dina Kalinovksaia’s Oh, Shabbat!, which I enjoyed very much, though I have yet to attempt making gefilte fish.

That’s it for this year’s annual report. Again, a big thank you—огромное спасибо—to all of you who visit The Bookshelf. I look forward to another year of reading, discussion, and, I hope, opportunities to meet more of you! Happy reading! Maybe next year I’ll actually bake some cupcakes.

Up Next: I’m not sure… Mikhail Lipskerov’s Белая горячка. Delirium Tremens hasn’t been holding my interest very consistently: it has some funny moments but feels too much like a rehashing of themes from other books about drinking and rough lives, like Moscow to the End of the Line and a couple of Vladimir Makanin’s books. I may just move on to Iurii Buida’s Синяя кровь (Blue Blood).

Cupcake photo: nazreth, via stock.xchng.


  1. Congratulation to four years of blogging about Russian books! Here's to many more :)

  2. Thank you so much, Josefina! It's nice to hear from you, and I hope you're enjoying grad school.

  3. Happy Birthday, Lizok's Bookshelf! Thank you for the wonderful book reviews, Lisa. Look forward to reading your blog for at at least another four years.

  4. Thank you so much, Dolgormaa! I look forward to hearing more from you about your reading, too... for at least another four years!

  5. Congratulations, Lisa! And thank you for your wonderful blog (and your hard work!).

    Could it be that your reader in search of potatoes was looking for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? Wrong place... but great book!

    Wishing you many more years of meaningful reading and translating :)

  6. Thank you very, very much, Catherine! That's a good thought on the potato theme, particularly since "first story of potatoes" is a little vague!

  7. Congrats on the four years. Keep it up. It's essential :)