Your Favourite Posts of 2019

The next instalment in my series of 2019 round-up posts sees a slight change of pace.  You see, while the last few posts have all been about what I made of the year, today sees me handing the mic over to you, my readers.  I’ve been poring over my WordPress stats to find out what content has struck a chord – and, as always, the findings have been rather interesting.

Overall, both page views and visitors have increased slightly, up from 103,088 (47,740) in 2018 to 107,182 (48,652) last year.  It’s the first time since the blog’s move to WordPress that the stats haven’t really shot up dramatically, but I suppose it still represents a fair year of consolidation at the site.

In 2018, readers from 173 nations and territories dropped by to at least browse one page, and that figure went up slightly to 174 this year (good morning, Tajikistan!).  I do wonder how all these people around the world stumble upon my scribblings…

Of course, what I’m really interested in today is in which posts were popular, and to do so we’ll be focusing on three main areas and comparing this year’s posts with old favourites.  The usual statistical disclaimer before we begin: visits to the homepage, and other methods people may have used to come across the posts (either via blog readers or email subscriptions), are not included.  So, without further ado, let’s check out the hot topics of 2019!

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Let’s begin with the most popular review posts published in 2019.  This list excludes any reviews published before 2019 and last year’s non-review posts:

1) ‘Celestial Bodies’ by Jokha Alharthi (Review) 1715
2) ‘Tokyo Ueno Station’ by Yū Miri (Review) 901
3) ‘Before the Coffee Gets Cold’ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Review) 576
4) ‘Die Kieferninseln’ (‘The Pine Islands’) by Marion Poschmann (Review) 481
5) ‘Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories’ by Kim Young-ha (Review) 335
6) ‘The Faculty of Dreams’ by Sara Stridsberg (Review) 328
7) ‘Nobel Lecture: The Tender Narrator’ by Olga Tokarczuk (Review) 319
8) ‘Berta Isla’ by Javier Marías (Review) 308
9) ‘The Handsome Monk’ by Tsering Döndrup (Review) 307
10) ‘The Years’ by Annie Ernaux (Review) 307
11) ‘The Remainder’ by Alia Trabucco Zerán (Review) 271
12) ‘The Shape of the Ruins’ by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Review) 271
13) ‘Toddler-Hunting and Other Stories’ by Taeko Kōno (Review) 250
14) ‘White Shadow’ by Roy Jacobsen (Review) 248
15) ‘Mouthful of Birds’ by Samanta Schweblin (Review) 246
16) ‘No Friend but the Mountains’ by Behrouz Boochani (Review) 241
17) ‘The Death of Murat Idrissi’ by Tommy Wieringa (Review) 236
18) ‘The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino’ by Hiromi Kawakami (Review) 235
19) ‘To the Spring Equinox and Beyond’ by Natsume Sōseki (Review) 223
20) ‘Farewell, My Orange’ by Iwaki Kei (Review) 208
21) ‘Children of the Cave’ by Virve Sammalkorpi (Review) 205
22) ‘The Little House’ by Kyōko Nakajima (Review) 192
23) ‘The End of the Moment We Had’ by Toshiki Okada (Review) 190
24) ‘Who Ate Up All the Shinga?’ by Park Wan-suh (Review) 188
25) ‘Love in the New Millennium’ by Can Xue (Review) 166

As you may have noticed, there was a strong Man Booker International Prize influence here, with nine of the eleven longlisted titles I reviewed in 2019 making this list.  The eventual winner, Celestial Bodies, was easily the most popular review post of the year, with its closest rival, Tokyo Ueno Station, being one of those that perhaps *should* have made that longlist.  Another interesting feature is the geographical spread.  Depending on how you define the region, you could argue that 14 of the 25 books listed above come from Asia, which is, perhaps, a reflection on my reading, and on my readers’ interests.

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Let’s now add in those posts excluded above (older posts and non-review posts) to see the full story for 2019 (the numbers in brackets indicate the 2018 position, where applicable):

1) Man Booker International Prize 2019 – Predictions 4140
2) ‘Celestial Bodies’ by Jokha Alharthi (Review) 1715
3) ‘Photo Shop Murder’ and Other Stories’ by Kim Young-ha (Review) – (6) 920
4) ‘Tokyo Ueno Station’ by Yū Miri (Review) 901
5) Los Niños Tontos / The Foolish Children’ by Ana María Matute (Review) – (3) 762
6) I Have the Right to Destroy Myself’ by Kim Young-ha (Review) – (4) 691
7) The 2018 Tony’s Reading List Awards 612
8) 2019 Reviews 597
9) ‘Before the Coffee Gets Cold’ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Review) 576
10) The 100 Best Novels in Translation’ by Boyd Tonkin – (8) 567
11) Night and Day’ by Virginia Woolf (Review) – (57) 550
12) Killing Commendatore’ by Haruki Murakami (Review) – (79) 544
13) The 2019 Man Booker International Prize Longlist! 497
14) And the (Shadow) MBIP 2019 Winner is… 484
15) ‘Die Kieferninseln’ (‘The Pine Islands’) by Marion Poschmann (Review) 481
16) Introducing the 2019 MBIP Shadow Panel! 476
17) As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams’ by Lady Sarashina (Review) – (2) 429
18) Man Booker International Prize 2019 – The Official Shortlist 427
19) Hopscotch’ by Julio Cortázar (Review) – (19) 417
20) Como agua para chocolate’ (‘Like Water for Chocolate’) by Laura Esquivel (Review) – (21) 413
21) Just who is Tony, and what exactly is his Reading List? – (13) 410
22) Man Booker International Prize 2019 – The Shadow Shortlist 400
23) In altre parole’ (‘In Other Words’) by Jhumpa Lahiri (Review) – (40) 393
24) The Girl from the Coast’ by Pramoedya Ananta Toer (Review) – (10) 393
25) A Decade of Tony’s Reading List 389

It’s probably a bit of an exaggeration to describe the year’s most popular post as ‘viral’, but while my MBIP speculation posts usually end up topping the list, this year’s offering went off like a rocket, becoming my most popular post ever within a matter of hours.  As you can see, only four of the posts in the first table actually made it onto this list, with a few old favourites making an appearance instead.  Kim Young-ha once again has two reviews in the top six, and my post on Boyd Tonkin’s choice of great books seems to have become another very popular reading choice.  Perhaps the most surprising appearance here, though, is that of Virginia Woolf’s Night and Day, one of the few works of English-language literature to get a look in 🙂

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Finally, let’s extend our focus and look at what has been popular since the 2015 blog migration.  In a slight change this year (primarily in order to show more review posts), I’ve decided to exclude certain posts, such as my introduction page and the various MBIP prediction posts.  Here, then, are the posts that just keep on giving:

1) ‘I Have the Right to Destroy Myself’ by Kim Young-ha (Review) 3070
2) ‘Los Niños Tontos / The Foolish Children’ by Ana María Matute (Review) 2116
3) ‘Photo Shop Murder’ and Other Stories by Kim Young-ha (Review) 2013
4) ‘As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams’ by Lady Sarashina (Review) 1887
5) ‘The Girl from the Coast’ by Pramoedya Ananta Toer (Review) 1883
6) ‘Celestial Bodies’ by Jokha Alharthi (Review) 1715
7) ‘Gehen, ging, gegangen’ (‘Go, Went, Gone’) by Jenny Erpenbeck (Review) 1674
8) ‘Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier’ (‘So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighbourhood’) by Patrick Modiano (Review) 1639
9) ‘Signs Preceding the End of the World’ by Yuri Herrera (Review) 1468
10) ‘Hopscotch’ by Julio Cortázar (Review) 1286
11) ‘The 100 Best Novels in Translation’ by Boyd Tonkin 1266
12) ‘Umami’ by Laia Jufresa (Review) 1190
13) ‘Como agua para chocolate’ (‘Like Water for Chocolate’) by Laura Esquivel (Review) 1160
14) ‘The Nakano Thrift Shop’ by Hiromi Kawakami (Review) 1153
15) ‘Little Jewel’ by Patrick Modiano (Review) 1127
16) ‘The Unseen’ by Roy Jacobsen (Review) 1110
17) ‘Supernova’ by Dewi Lestari (Review) 1099
18) ‘Fish Have No Feet’ by Jón Kalman Stefánsson (Review) 1083
19) ‘The Lost Daughter’ by Elena Ferrante (Review) 1069
20) ‘In Praise of Shadows’ by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (Review) 1026
21) ‘The Story of Hong Gildong’, translated by Minsoo Kang (Review) 1019
22) ‘Beauty is a Wound’ by Eka Kurniawan (Review) 1009
23) ‘La Prisonnière (The Prisoner)’ by Marcel Proust (Review) 997
24) ‘All Souls’ by Javier Marías (Review) 958
25) ‘Soviet Milk’ by Nora Ikstena (Review) 957

With the exception of Celestial Bodies slotting in at number 6 on this list, there are few changes here, with a number of posts continuing to attract attention.  The Kim Young-ha reviews take up two of the first three positions, and I suspect that As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams is still a set text at some schools or universities around the world.  Perhaps the most impressive feat, though, is that of Ana María Matute’s Los Niños Tontos (The Foolish Children), which has been near the top of my stats ever since my review went live.  Translated by María del Carmen Luengo Santaló and Aileen Dever, and published by Small Stations Press, it’s a charming bilingual edition of a book of poems, and it seems to be of great interest to my readers.  It’s not a book I would have imagined capturing everyone’s attention, but it’s nice to see, anyway 🙂

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And that’s all for this post 🙂  Intriguing or dull, you be the judge, but I always find it fascinating to see which reviews find a life beyond the first few days of publication.  With the new year underway, I wonder which 2020 reviews will join this list when we look back this time next year?  Well, I suppose there’s only one way to find out – look out for more reviews very soon!

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