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Kelly’s Top Five Posts of 2013: A Look Back

Kimberly hit on a lot of what I have to say about 2013 when it comes to blogging. We reached over a million hits, continued a couple of old series, kicked off new ones, and we passed our fourth year blogging together. In addition to all of those exciting — and big — milestones, 2013 was, I think, our strongest year when it came to writing and blogging more generally. I think for the first time for me, this blog felt like a real outlet and place to explore new ideas. Some of them began as small ideas and exploded into much bigger things when I wrote them out, while others I thought were bigger stayed small and confined to the blog. It was such a different year for blogging more broadly, too, which I plan on talking a bit more about next week sometime.

As Kim said, we thought it would be worthwhile to talk about some of our individual favorite posts from the past year. Here are five of my top picks, in no particular order:

Female Sexuality in YA Fiction

After writing this post back in June about female sexuality in YA, I’ve not stopped thinking about this topic. And I’m not just thinking about it as more books publish that tackle the subject, but I’m thinking about it in terms of backlist, too. A few people pointed me to older titles that explore female sexuality in some capacity, and I am really looking forward to reading them and thinking about how far — or not far — YA fiction has come in how it approaches girls and sexuality.

When We Talk About “Girl Problems”

Kind of going hand-in-hand with the sexuality post was this one about the notion of “girl problems.” What does it mean to be a girl and how are the problems girls face handled in YA fiction? More than that, how are they responded to by readers? I loved talking about love triangles, as well as talking about the idea of the “every girl” that Sarah Dessen writes about (and that I think Dessen gets unfairly dinged for sometimes, too). I also think this post corresponded quite a bit with what I talked about in terms of “unlikable” female characters, too.

Getting Past the Easy Reach

When you commit something to paper (or blog, as the case may be), it’s harder to ignore your own words since you have to face them if someone calls you out on them. This particular post was one that I needed to write because I needed the reminder of the value of recommending the reads that fit the reader, rather than the reads which are most obvious and easiest to grab. It was this post that really inspired me to want to write the “Beyond the Bestsellers” series at Book Riot, and it’s the post I think those who do reader’s advisory should think about — I’d love to see more people talk about how to move beyond the easy reach.

Fat Isn’t A Disability, But It Is A Book Deal Breaker

The more I think about my favorite posts this year, the more interrelated I see that they are. The long and short of it seems to be that it’s hard to be a girl.

On Book Packagers and Literary Development Companies

This was just a straight-up fun post to write. There are posts you write that you know took you a long time to write because they required a lot of work — I’m looking at the New York Times Bestsellers Posts — and then there are posts you write that you know took a long time because you kept letting yourself fall down new rabbit holes. This was the rabbit hole post.

It was a real blast this year to return to the So You Want to Read YA series, as well as the Contemporary YA Week series. It was equally fun to try out a group read along for Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War, as well as giving a series about reader’s advisory a shot, too. Kimberly and I both loved putting together the monthly genre guides, as well as interviewing authors we respect for our monthly Twitterview series. Of course, writing reviews for books that really worked — as well as dissecting what didn’t work within a book that wasn’t a knock out for me — is always enjoyable, too.

One thing I discovered this year and that I’ll talk a bit more about in a future post is how much readership and audience has changed over the last year. When we once knew our readership pretty well, now we’re less aware (and maybe less concerned, too). It’s neat to see where and how people are finding us, and it’s been so great to see not just our content be shared, but it’s enjoyable to reader other people’s responses to our posts via their own blogs, tumblr, Twitter, and other outlets. There’s never a time when I don’t have at least a page worth of post ideas, thanks in big part to those of you who read and think about what it is we have to say.

I’m not a resolutions person, though I do like to set goals (resolutions to me sound too absolute and focus too much on an end result, whereas goals allow for celebrating and feeling accomplishment in the interim steps along the path). In the coming year, it’s my goal to keep writing what I feel like writing and to cover some of the things people have suggested I look at but I thought maybe I didn’t have the time or energy to do. The truth is, that time is there. It’s just a matter of sitting down and putting the effort in to do it — and that’s one of those interim steps along the way I love and look forward to but forget about until I get the chance to reflect upon the value it brings to me.

As always, a huge thank you to our readers, to those who comment or share or encourage us along the way. We’d probably still blog without it, but it’d be a much less enjoyable or inspiring experience.