Friday, August 3, 2012

Two Years Ago

Two years ago at my wife’s suggestion, I started this blog about my ten-year reading plan. Since then, has become a favorite hobby and an important part of my reading activity. In the first few months of the blog’s life, I wrote a lot about the details of the plan and ways I find time to read, and I posted several posts about books I had completed earlier that year or in the first three years of the plan, before I started blogging. Starting in January of 2011, in order to keep posting regularly, I had to start thinking about blogging while I read, and I started taking more careful notes. Sure, that’s exactly the wrong approach for some books, but for the most part, the exercise has improved my attention and retention. This is the 237th post, so I have continued to write a new one almost every three days on average, and I hope to keep up the same pace in the future.

In these last two years, I’ve read and blogged about a lot of old favorites, some exciting new finds, and some exasperating slogs through sloughs of words. The familiar friends include Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, Dicken’s Dombey and Son and David Copperfield, Boswell’s Life of Johnson, Lewis’s Surprised by Joy, and The Odyssey. The most exciting works new to me include the classic Persian saga called the Shahnameh and Byron’s Don Juan. The most frustrating reads include . . . oh, why bother mentioning them again?

I average about 700 pageviews a month now, over 11,000 altogether over the two years. I don’t understand how blogspot’s stats work: the “pageviews” are all keyed to a particular title, but I suppose that the number of posts read could be even higher if one someone clicks the main page or a particular month and then reads more than one post on the page. Most of these views originate in the United States, but at least 40% of them are registered in other countries – Russia, Germany, the UK, Ukraine, Italy, and France being the most frequent.

Most posts show from 8 to 16 views a piece. But then some posts have had 40, 60, 80, even as many as 350 views. And I have no idea why. The most viewed posts include my ramblings about  the best way to read O’Brian’s sea stories, Augustine’s view of angels, Latin phrases, a Chesterton essay on Christmas, Plato’s atomic theory, and Dickens’s view of human depravity and redemption. Fiction and nonfiction. Ancient and modern. Christian and pagan. I ponder what makes these posts show up appealingly in Google searches, but I have no good hypothesis.

I do know my favorites from the last year, though. Here are a round dozen:

Good and Bad Science Instruction
A Loser Like Jane Austen
Nelly and Descartes
Human Mysteries in Bleak House
Lights Will Guide You Home
Troll the Ancient Yuletide Carol – 2011
Funny Things Are Everywhere
Dining with Dr. Johnson Again
Durant’s Retrospective
Peabody’s Improbable History
Glory Is Out of Date
She’s a Funny Girl, That Belle

The hardest post to write was “Dining with Dr. Johnson Again.” I worked for hours in a fit of inspiration – and then watched it disappear from my screen. It seems that blogspot’s editor sees CTRL-Z differently from every other application on the planet. Apparently, blogspot thinks the “undo” code means that the writer wants to undo the last several hours of his life. I was sure I could never repeat the performance; I had to have that post back. It was somewhere on my computer or in cyberspace, I knew. Stuff doesn’t actually disappear from hard drives. A few more hours of work led me to the world’s most useful webpage. If you ever have the same horrifying experience, follow the advice the very kind Villeneuve family posted there. But better yet, avoid needing their help: use a word processor to compose, and copy to blogspot’s editor only as a last step.

Thanks again for sticking with me.

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