Thursday, October 16, 2014

Happy Birthday to the Bookshelf!

Another October 16, another cupcake! The blog turns seven on this blustery day and the feelings I mentioned two years ago—using the words “gratifying” and “humbling”— seem to have doubled or tripled or quadrupled. I send very heartfelt thanks to all of you who visit, whether regularly or occasionally, and find my posts useful. I’m glad you enjoy them!

As always, there’s something a little new and different this year. For one thing, the bookshelf itself, which has grown into a fairly large installation of several bookcases, is moving. Upstairs. Into the living room and out of the mudroom. The reason for the move has nothing to do with a more prestigious or spacious location for the books and everything to do with a weird domino effect… the first block was toppled, of course, by a junior cat who gnaws on shoe leather and laces. The other new and different is that I’m translating even more this year, working now on Evgeny Vodolazkin’s Laurus, with Vadim Levental’s Masha Regina waiting for me. Two other books—Vladislav Otroshenko’s Addendum to a Photo Album and Marina Stepnova’s The Women of Lazarus—are in various stages of editing. It’s an understatement to say the words “gratifying” and “humbling” apply here, too. I love my books and I love my work.

As is traditional, here are a few annual report statistics. Google Analytics provides fewer interesting data about searches these days but there’s still plenty about geography and popular posts:

Geography. The United States still leads in sheer visitor sessions, followed by United Kingdom, Russia, Ukraine, and Canada. In terms of how much people read, though, among the top ten visiting countries, visitors in Italy read more pages per session (1.92), followed by those in the Netherlands (1.9), and then the UK and Canada (1.72). In terms of cities, the top five were New York, London, Kyiv, Moscow, and Kerrville, Texas. Hmm.

Popular Posts. As far as landing pages go, the most popular, other than the home page, is Russian Fiction for Non-Native Readers, followed by Top 10 Fiction Hits of Russian Literature. These were both in the top three last year, too. After those posts come pieces about “The Overcoat,” The Belkin Tales, and The Petty Demon, favorites all, though last year’s most popular classic, A Hero of Our Time, didn’t make the top 10 posts this year. It was kept away by posts with a list of new translations for 2014, two Kuprin stories, Laurus, and two of Gogol’s Petersburg stories. Needless to say, I’m particularly glad Laurus attracts attention—it’s a wonderful book and my most visited contemporary fiction post—and I’m very grateful people use the translation list. That reminds me to remind translators and publishers: please send information about what’s coming in 2015. I’m gathering listings!

Common and Odd Search Terms. Well, there aren’t many these days: the most common terms are typically dull things about finding Russian literature. Since many searches don’t reveal terms these days, even the top number is low, 25 for lizok’s bookshelf. The top search for a specific book is, interestingly enough, freedom factory kseniya buksha, which I haven’t even read, followed by sanctuary 3/9. Other contemporary terms in the top 20 are vodolazkin (two variations), sergei samsonov/ russian writer, and “marina stepnova.” Only two classics are in the top 20: the petty demon summary and a hero of our time summary. Hmm, summaries. Even looking through lots of terms, I don’t find much unintentional humor these days, just straightforward requests for analysis, summaries, themes, and titles though the search for are there any fight scenes in war and peace is a bit peculiar.

I’ll stop there, with the reference to War and Peace, since it is, still, my all-time favorite. Thank you again for your visits, your comments, and your notes. I look forward to meeting more of you over the next year, whether virtually or in real life!

Up Next: My has a lot piled up during the time I’ve been wearing myself out with a persistent, tickly, dry Moscow cough! Moscow trip report. Yasnaya Polyana Award winners. Then books galore… After something of a summer slump, I’ve had a great run, starting with Evgeny Vodolazkin’s first novel, Solovyov and Larionov, and Marina Stepnova’s latest book, Безбожный переулок, which is, wisely, being called Italian Lessons for English-language purposes. And now Viktor Remizov’s Воля вольная, which has, also wisely, been renamed for English-language purposes: Ashes and Dust. There’s also a bunch of books I’ve been reading in English. I’m glad to have lots of books waiting for posts: after Ashes and Dust, my next Russian-language book will be Zakhar Prilepin’s rather long (okay, very long) Обитель (The Cloister), which has relatively small print, too, meaning it will take some time.

Disclaimers/Disclosures: The usual.


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