Happy New Year! I’m writing this blog to keep track of my reading and to encourage me to think more critically about what I read — but also to help bring readers and books together. I love sharing my enthusiasm for books that have found a place in my heart. I thought that looking at my 2015 year-end blog statistics would help me plan informative and engaging posts for 2016.
When I checked to see which posts received the most views, I was surprised. The #1 post for 2015 is my review of All the Light We Cannot See (originally posted in March 2014, six weeks before the book came out)– also the #1 post for 2014. Book reviews don’t usually get as much readership as other posts, but I guess that when the book being reviewed is a much-loved Pulitzer Prize winner, it’s a different story.
Just a few page views behind the All the Light We Cannot See review was 10 Spring Paperback Picks, which had double the page views of the #3 post (5 Reasons to Read Short Stories.) I wondered why that post was so popular, with triple the readership of similar posts — 10 Summer Paperback Picks, 10 Books to Get Your Book Club Talking — and five times the readership of 10 Summer Paperback Picks –Nonfiction? I thought there had to be some reason that the 10 Spring Paperback Picks post has been so popular throughout the summer, fall, and winter.
I discovered the reason inadvertently when I googled “Girl on the Train paperback” a few days ago. I didn’t find the paperback release date — but I did learn that Books on the Table’s 10 Spring Paperback Picks shows up as one of the first Google hits when those search terms are used. Which should be a good thing, except that readers who click on that link will not find out when The Girl on the Train will come out in paperback. What they will learn is a little bit about how the book industry decides when to release books in paperback and what my favorite summer 2015 paperback recommendations were.
Here are the top 10 posts from 2015, along with my theories about why they were the most popular.
#1: All the Light We Cannot See — Book Review (2014)
Searches for “discussion questions for All the Light We Cannot See” led hundreds of readers to my book review — I hope they weren’t too unhappy when they found my post didn’t include any questions. I’ve considered including discussion questions in book reviews, but I never have because good discussion guides are usually available on publishers’ websites. Maybe I should include links to those, along with a few extra questions?
Those who wanted to know “what happened to the diamond in All the Light We Cannot See” were definitely disappointed, as was the reader interested in “the best food to serve at All the Light We Cannot See book club meeting”. (I suggest either French or German.)
By the way – if your book club is one of those that only discusses paperbacks, keep in mind that the paperback edition of All the Light We Cannot See is due in October 2016.
#2: 10 Spring Paperback Picks
Everyone is dying to know when The Girl on the Train is coming out in paperback. Keep in mind that the paperback edition of Gone Girl didn’t come out until nearly two years after the hardcover publication — but several months before the movie release. The movie version of The Girl on the Train is scheduled to hit theaters in October 2016.
#3: 5 Reasons to Read Short Stories (2014)
In what may be an age of limited attention spans, are short stories making a comeback? Over the past few years, many top-notch short story collections have been published, and the last two National Book Award winners for fiction have been collections of stories (Redeployment and Fortune Smiles). Or maybe people are bewildered by short stories; Books on the Table statistics show lots of readers wondering “why are short stories worth reading?” and “why do people read short stories?”.
#4: 10 Summer Paperback Picks
People like reading paperbacks in the summer!
#5: An Uncomplicated Life — Book Review
One reason this post was so popular is that Paul Daugherty, the author of An Uncomplicated Life: A Father’s Memoir of His Exceptional Daughter, is a columnist at the Cincinnati Inquirer and he mentioned the review in his blog. Another reason is that An Uncomplicated Life is a wonderful, inspiring book — don’t miss it! (It’s now out in paperback.) Daugherty’s daughter, Jillian, was married last June; in a letter he wrote to her, published on the website The Mighty, Daugherty said: ” I don’t know what the odds are of a woman born with Down syndrome marrying the love of her life. I only know you’ve beaten them.”
#6: Where They Found Her — Book Review
I’m not sure why this review got the attention it did, except that Where They Found Her is a popular book club selection. Many readers were searching for “Where They Found Her spoilers” — does this mean they hadn’t read the book and their book club meeting was starting in an hour?
#7: Orphan #8 — Author Interview
Kim van Alkemade’s terrific debut novel, a paperback original, was an Indie Next pick. She provided detailed and thoughtful answers to my questions — but so did Elizabeth Berg, a much better-known author, in a discussion of The Dream Lover a few months earlier, and that interview had very low readership. Could it be that people were looking for information about Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train (another paperback original), which has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over two years?
#8: 10 Books to Get Your Book Club Talking
Clearly, people are always looking for “discussable” books. A glance at search terms shows that they are also trying to find “book club books that are fun not depressing”, “great book club books for couples”, and, surprisingly often, “book club cocktail napkins”.
#9: The Story Hour — Book Review (2014)
I loved this book, but I’m surprised the review made it into the top 10 because The Story Hour seems like one of those quiet and lovely books that hasn’t received the acclaim it deserves. All of Thrity Umrigar’s books are well worth reading, but my favorite is The Space Between Us.
#10: Nonfiction November : 10 Favorite Survival Books (2014)
When I’m warm and comfortable on my couch at home, usually with a blanket and a cup of hot tea, I like nothing better than to read about people trapped in the polar ice cap or shivering in a lifeboat. I must not be alone in my reading tastes because I see many searches for ” best nonfiction adventure books” and “true survival stories”.
And here are three of my favorite posts from 2015 — which, according to the statistics, almost no one read:
I feel strongly about not forcing children to read books they don’t like. Maybe people disagree and don’t want to tell me? Did the Garfield photo turn people off? Or maybe the title is bad?
Books on the Table Goes to the Movies
Maybe I should stick to writing about books. I recently went to see the Chicago Lyric Opera’s production of Bel Canto (based on Ann Patchett’s book) and considered writing a post called Books on the Table Goes to the Opera. It’s probably best I didn’t.
Jazz Age January: West of Sunset & So We Read On
Something has to be in last place — this post ranks #71 out of 71 posts published in 2015 — but this was one of my favorites! Am I the only one who cares about F. Scott Fitzgerald?
I’m interested in what you’d like to see more (or less) of in Books on the Table in 2016. Suggestions, please!
11 thoughts on “The Most (and Least) Popular Books on the Table Posts of 2015”
Fascinating! Love seeing which posts people read. And I got other good rec’s from your post too – I have Orphan #8 at home and will bump it up the list.
Glad you enjoyed! Let me know what you think about Orphan #8. Happy New Year!
I liked your non-required reading post! And I love this post as well! I had a similar experience (to your All the Light We Cannot See) with my Girl on the Train Spoiler Discusson…#1 google result when you google “girl on the train spoilers” and it was far and away my best post of the year. Nothing else even came close…oh, the power of search engines! I think it’s interesting that your short story post was #3…a I feel like many casual readers avoid those like the plague. I’m just now growing to appreciate them. Your theory makes sense.
Thanks, Sarah! I hadn’t spent much time looking at statistics in depth before so this was really interesting. >
Great post, Ann! I loved reading about what posts were most (and least) popular and your thoughts on why this might be. I also got to go have a look at some that I missed, like your favourite non-fiction survival books. I love survival books, real and imagined. In the Heart of the Sea was one of my favourite books this year and I have a few more from your list in my sights, but there were also a couple that were new to me.
It’s fun to try to figure out why people are drawn to certain posts, but unfortunately it rarely seems to be our own personal favourites, does it?
I just saw the movie of In the Heart of the Sea, and while (of course) it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the book, it was still worth seeing. Hope your 2016 is full of good books! >
Good to know!
Hey, I loved both the Nonrequired Reading and Books on the Table Goes to the Movies posts — I think I included them in my monthly links round-up even. I would be in favor of an opera post too, but I can understand if you don’t want to write for an audience of one.
Thanks! Hope 2016 is a wonderful reading/blogging year for you.
I like your posts of book reviews as well as your posts of upcoming books to pick up. Posts about books turned into movies are good too, and what books are hot at your bookstore. You mix it up a lot which is nice.
Thank you! I always look forward to reading your blog.
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