Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Looking back: what readers have enjoyed most from Story of the Week and Reader’s Almanac

It was on July 4 one year ago that The Library of America launched Reader’s Almanac, which we are delighted to see regularly rank as a top literary blog on Wikio and Technorati. Just six months earlier, LOA started Story of the Week. Now nearly eighty thousand subscribers receive the weekly alert for a free short story. Many thanks to all our readers, especially those who have made comments and recommendations, for helping these two initiatives succeed. We thought this an appropriate time to share some findings about which selections and posts you have enjoyed the most.

Story of the Week
  1. “The Lady in the Bookcase,” James Thurber – week of April 23, 2010
  2. “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,” Nathaniel Hawthorne – June 27, 2011
  3. “I’ll Be Waiting,” Raymond Chandler – December 6, 2010
  4. “The Little Room,” Madeline Yale Wynne – October 18, 2010
  5. “Hunting the Deceitful Turkey,” Mark Twain – November 19, 2010
  6. “The Train,” Flannery O’Connor – October 4, 2010
  7. “The Christmas Fireside (for Good Little Boys and Girls),” Mark Twain – December 17, 2010
  8. “An Interview with Mark Twain,” Rudyard Kipling – April 16, 2010
  9. “What It Means to be Colored in the Capital of the United States,” Mary Church Terrell – January 14, 2011
  10. “A Box to Hide In,” James Thurber – June 17, 2011
The revival of interest in James Thurber has been one of the most remarkable stories of the past two years. Its start can clearly be traced to Keith Olbermann’s decision to end each of his Friday Countdown broadcasts with a reading from James Thurber: Writings and Drawings. And perhaps there was pent-up demand for Thurber. Six months ago, “The Lady in the Bookcase” was not even in the top five stories. Readers searching for Thurber found it in the Story of the Week archives and caused its climb. “A Box to Hide In,” on the other hand, just mailed two weeks ago and jumped to #10.

Another surprise in the rankings is the Nathaniel Hawthorne tale about “the hubris of science and the idea of eternal youth.” It mailed just last week and it’s #2! Is this really the perfect summertime read? Or perhaps it confirms our readers’ taste for the macabre? The ghoulish stories clustered near the top nevertheless show a discriminating range: from Madeline Yale Wynne’s disturbing little gem to ominous classics by Raymond Chandler and Flannery O’Connor. And speaking of life beyond the grave, we know nothing would please this year’s bestselling deceased author Mark Twain more than dominating this list with three entries—except perhaps being #1.

Reader’s Almanac
  1. The Best-Selling Titles in The Library of America’s First Three Decades – January 3, 2011
  2. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Dylan: Desolation Angels led to “Desolation Row” – October 21, 2010
  3. Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita first published in the U.S. 52 years ago – August 18, 2010
  4. Forthcoming from The Library of America (Summer—Fall 2011) – February 7, 2011
  5. Andy Borowitz’s marketing copy for The Library of America: “Does being funny get you girls?” – March 17, 2011
  6. Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, and How to Sell a Banned Book – September 29, 2010
  7. Adam Levin: American literary influences on The Instructions – January 19, 2011
  8. Elaine Showalter on Philip Roth, Albert Camus, and plagues – October 20, 2010
  9. Zora Neale Hurston: Video of her ethnographic work in Florida in 1928 – July 26, 2010
  10. James Baldwin on hearing Martin Luther King preach in Montgomery – January 14, 2011
One of the most surprising findings in this list is how appealing readers find LOA’s sales data and lists of forthcoming titles. Expect more details on these fronts in the future. And we are very pleased that our new guest blog posts—represented above by Adam Levin and Elaine Showalter—have been so well received, and there are many more are in the pipeline. Showcasing a variety of voices has always been what The Library of America has been about.

The popularity of two posts—one on Kerouac, Ginsberg and Dylan; another on Zora Neale Hurston—seem driven as much by the accompanying videos as by the text. If you know of a compelling video on a literary subject, please bring it to our attention. We’d love to add it to our Library of America YouTube channel, and possibly also include it in a blog post.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature