Book Blogging Tips

2020: The Year In First Lines

It’s too soon to do a wrap up post on my reading year, though, like most of you, I will be heartily glad to see the back of 2020. It’s not too soon however to take a look back on the blogging year with the aid of the “Year in First Lines” meme.

The “rules” are quite simple. Find the first post published in each month. Extract the first line from each post. Then reflect on what that tells you about the past year.

Here goes.


2019: The Reading Year in Review 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair … we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…

I wrote that post way before we’d even heard the term Coronavirus. I can’t claim to have clairvoyant skills but the phrase “we had everything before us” now in retrospect seems chillingly apt.


Coming To Your Shelves This Spring: New Books From Welsh Publishers

The output of the Welsh publishing sector may not be as prolific as their counterparts elsewhere in the UK,  but what it lacks in numbers, it more than delivers on quality and variety. 

I have mixed feeling seeing this first line. Part of me is happy that it shows I was continuing to advocate on behalf of publishers and authors from Wales. But I’m disappointed that this was the only post of its kind I wrote this year. I had meant for this to become a quarterly feature but it was yet another “plan” that disappeared into the land of lost good intentions.


The White Camellia by Juliet Greenwood: Women on the march

The White Camellia is an atmospheric novel of family secrets and revenge set against the background of the Suffragette movement. “

I remember exactly where I was when I began writing this post: sitting in a hospital car park waiting for my husband to emerge from his eye clinic appointment. The first of many similar experiences this year because virus control measures meant I wasn’t allowed into the building.


Why It’s A Mistake To Ignore Your About Me Page

“It’s day one of the A-Z Challenge in which we’re going to take an alphabetical journey through the art of book blogging. 

And so began a month of blog posts about different aspects of book blogging. By the end of the month, having posted almost daily throughout April, I was exhausted. But also enthused because of the discussions with other bloggers that the posts stimulated.


5 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging

“I have next to nothing in common with Donald Rumsfeld , the former US Secretary of State for Defence. The one thing upon which we can agree is that “there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.”

A rather convoluted way of saying that although I have learned a lot about blogging in the last eight years, there are still huge gaps in my knowledge.


#20 Books Of Summer: The Unlisted Version

“I plead guilty to the charges of inconsistency, fickleness and caprice.”

This was my attempt at justifying participation in a reading challenge having said at the beginning of the year that I would “stop doing reading challenges that involve making lists of titles to read.” Oops….


A Dream Of A Book: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls is the only fictional book I’ve ever bought purely because I was interested in the illustrations.”

This is the result of an effort to read some of the books that have been stuck in the bookshelves for years. I felt guilty this had gone unread for so long because it was a book I had strong hints about one Christmas.


Should You Review Only The Books You Enjoy

“The debate over whether book bloggers should include reviews of books they disliked as well as those they enjoyed, has reared its head again.”

This year it feels as if social media channels have had more negativity around book blogging than ever before. Criticism about bloggers who post less than fully-flattering reviews bubbled up during the summer. It hasn’t, unfortunately, gone away – I saw a string of similar comments on Twitter earlier this week.


The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope

“It’s taken me almost three months to get through The Small House at Allington, book number five in the Chronicles of Barsetshire.

Time for a celebration as I come close to the end of one my reading projects.


Authors At Home: Childhood Memories with Beatrix Potter

“Like millions of other children around the world, the illustrated tales of Beatrix Potter were among my earliest reading materials.

With all holiday plans put on hold, I resorted to some virtual travel by visiting houses that have a literary association. In addition to “visiting” the Lake District home of Beatrix Potter I also went to the homes of Emile Zola, Jane Austen and Roald Dahl.


2020 Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

“Nonfiction November has kicked off once more, beginning with an opportunity to reflect on the year with some questions set by our hosts: Leann @ Shelf Aware. Katie @ Doing Dewey, Julie @ Julz Reads and Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction.”

I love the kind of events which devote a month to a specific theme and Nonfiction November is becoming one of my favourites. I just wish it didn’t coincide with two other equally attractive events in the shape of Novellas in November and Australian Reading Month. I want to participate in all of them but end up doing justice to none of them because I spread myself too thinly.


What I’m Reading: Episode 30, December 2020

“October and November slipped by before I remembered I hadn’t done my monthly update on what I’m reading currently, what I recently read and what I plan to read next.”

I enjoy doing these updates because they give me a snapshot of my reading year. Just wish I could remember to do them more often!

The Take-Away

What do these first lines reveal about my blog in 2020?

  • I’m inconsistent and am hopeless at planning! No surprises there….
  • I kept up my intention of reading and promoting literature from Wales
  • The blog continues to be a mix of reviews and other topics. The fact there are only two reviews in this list shows that the balance has tilted further away from reviews than I’d like it to be. This wasn’t intentional. I find reviews take more concentration than many other topics and I simply haven’t had the ability to focus. I’m not going to berate myself for this; just making a note to myself for 2021

What would your first lines say about your blog? Brona from Brona’s Books and Lisa from ANZLitLovers have already done their reviews. Why not join this happy throng??


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

18 thoughts on “2020: The Year In First Lines

  • I always look forward to people taking part in this meme and I was not disappointed with yours, even if there are less reviews than you would have liked, there is lots of variety. 🙂 I can’t usually take part because my first post of the month is always my monthly round up, so you’d have a very dull post of very similar first lines! 😅

    • Thats a shame. Maybe you could do it with first lines of the first post that isn’t a monthly round up??

      • I like your thinking, Karen 😉 I will see if I have chance to squeeze in another post in the coming week. 😁

  • Liked this idea a lot. I’m going to look at my first of the month first lines for 2020, now.

    • Come on Frank – we’re looking forward to reading your first lines. Your content is so varied it will make an interesting post

      • Done – just posted it. Not sure if it is as interesting as you predict.

  • I enjoyed the bird pane. The First Line approach is an interesting idea but its summer where I live, and a 30 degree C afternoon has fried my brains. Maybe another time. Thanks for all the excellent posts throughout a difficult year.

    • I find this kind of post ideal for days when I’m feeling tired and stressed out. Can you send a few of those 30 degrees our way please?

  • Wonderful to have this commentary on the year as it unfolded—what I think it shows, Karen, is that maybe unwittingly you always had your finger on the pulse of current developments, an awesome talent!

    While I’m almost tempted to do this meme—not one I’d come across before—I think I may bear it in mind for next year.

  • It’s interesting to see how these snapshots reveal things we hadn’t noticed at the time…

    • That’s true. I sort of knew I wasn’t writing as many reviews as in previous years but this really brought it home

  • tracybham

    I really like this. I will check out my first posts of each month and first lines and see what they say about me and my blogging.

    What I learned from your first lines is that you do posts about blogging tips, and I can certainly use those, so I will come back to see some of the posts on that subject.

    • I do hope you find the tips helpful Tracy. They are all gathered on one page on the blog to make it easy to find them

    • Far more fun to do than churn through statistics about number of pages read etc


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