Tuesday, November 20, 2012

100th Blog Post: Reading is Still Better Than Sex!



This is my 100th post on the Shimmers in the Darkness blog, which I began in October of 2010. Months ago, I had an idea for the post. I had been looking at the stats and noticed that the most-viewed post was the only one I ever wrote about sex. On April 15, 2011, I referenced a little story from the Dutch Daily News. Researchers found Dutch people would rather read a book in bed than have sex, citing that 22% of those polled opted for reading and only 11% for lovemaking. Small percentages, right? Well, sleeping was voted the most favorite activity in bed, with 63% choosing rest over recreation. The study also polled about where people preferred to read, with “in bed” coming in first place.

A funny, short blog post, which I titled “Reading: Better Than Sex!” Apparently, the inclusion of the S word drew hoards of readers. In fact, this post had at least twice as many readers as the next, most-viewed entry. So my idea was to have sort of a retrospective 100th blog post, where I point out a few of my favorite posts and have a little laugh about the fact that an inconsequential little entry, however saucily named, had attracted the most interest.

But this past summer, I began to read some Southern fiction; namely: Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, Katherine Anne Porter (yes, I count her as Southern), and anything else with a Gothic vein because I had decided to write a Gothic novel. In July, I reread The Violent Bear It Away and wrote a post with a brief introduction to O’Connor and my impressions of the book. Right away, this post began to rack in so many readers that in a few short months, it had surpassed my Sex! post and currently has twice as many page views.

Why? I don’t know. Perhaps unwittingly, I've done a fabulous job tagging the post, so that search engines find it easily (can you tell I barely know what I’m talking about here?). Or maybe it’s my insightfulness. Or a fluke. I like to imagine hundreds of high school students and English majors googling “Flannery O’Connor” for research papers and being pointed to my tiny but well-kept corner of the Internet.

In the end, it makes me happy that an entry about reading and writing has surpassed the other. Of course, in a perfect world reading and sex exist harmoniously (not at the exact same time, but you know what I mean).

So here are my most popular posts, one of many top ten lists you’ll see all over the place during the next two months. I'm happy to report that it includes mostly literature-related posts, including two of my own fiction pieces, one author interview and one review, and the post I shared when my own novel was published. (Plug: The Qualities of Wood, perfect choice for holiday reading! Available here!)

1)                  Flannery O’Connor
2)                  Reading: Better Than Sex!
3)                  Q&A with Dawn Finch, author of Brotherhood of Shades
4)                  On Orphans in Literature
5)                  A Turtle By Any Other Name
6)                  Man ex Machina: A Halloween Story
7)                  Sluice-rush
8)                  Book News: Big Announcement
9)                  Overheard Conversation
10)              Daisychains of Silence by Catherine MacLeod

And here are a few of my favorite, perhaps overlooked posts:

Better, stronger, faster (a remembrance of my grandfather on the occasion of Neil Armstrong’s passing)
Collaboration: A Cautionary Tale (a completely fictional anecdote about editing)
Words, words, words (why translation is mostly impossible)
Hotel Thoughts (something about me)
Speed Therapy (a great idea, I still think)
On Reviewing, Part Deux (the difference between building fiction and taking it apart) 

At this time of Thanksgiving, I'd like to thank readers past, present and future, particularly those who take the time to let me know they've read something here. The blog has been a great place for me to share news, explore ideas and scratch some itches fiction can't reach. And schoolkids: keep reading Flannery O'Connor!

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"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka