Well, looks like this review blog’s made it two whole years! Whoda thunk? In case you missed it, I registered the domain name PaganBookReviews.com and applied it to the blog (please do update your bookmarks accordingly!). I also ran a little maintenance here and there; there were a couple of widgets missing which I’ve now returned to the front page (most notably the Categories widget).
Here’s where it was a year ago, and here’s where it stands right now (numbers include stats from last year):
–208 posts (not including this one), of which 206 are reviews or lists of reviews at other sites; I cleaned out a few of the administrative posts and random things that didn’t really need to be there.
–The best-ever day for views is still Monday, November 19, 2007, with the all-time record of 279 views. My goal for this coming year is to break that. Wanna help? ETA on 18 December, 2008: Ask and ye shall receive–as of 10am PST, I’ve gotten 320 views overall, and there are still a few hours to the day by way of WordPress! Muchas gracias! ETA Again: Final tally, 429 views!
–192 legitimate comments, some of which are my replies. I used to have a godsawful amount of spam, til I registered the new domain name, which reset the spam filter–so far I’ve still had 219 of them try to weasel their way in.
–70 categories, 69 of which are book-related
–PaganBookReviews.com is the very first result on a Google search for “pagan book reviews”, up from #4 last year
–My reviews are showing up in some interesting places–Google Books, links to various other blogs, and the occasional link on Wikipedia (check out the list of links for Patrick Harpur)–I may not be notable enough for the Wikipedia folks, but apparently my reviewing abilities are 😉
The first review since my first anniversary post was The Cave Painters by Gregory Curtis; the most recent post was for a new batch of Facing North reviews.
I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like; I quit the job that had me commuting three hours a day, spent the summer telecommuting, and started graduate school this fall (which means that most of my reading has been for my classes, something I’ll be addressing on my break!). However, there were some really great books that I’ve read in the second year of this blog:
Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future by various – This is the kind of thing pagans need to be talking about. Not just spells. Not just gossip about who wore OMGRENGARB to the ritual. But actual issues that involve people’s personal spirituality and cosmology and how they affect everyday life and shape worldviews.
Spiritual Transformation Through BDSM by Sensuous Sadie – As a pagan who is also a kinky person, I really appreciated this in-depth look at the spirituality of kinks. Like the above book, it goes beyond the usual 101 material to provide some exceptionally good brain food.
Green Hermeticism by Wilson, Bamford and Townley – Alchemy and hermeticism from an ecocentric perspective, partly penned by none other than Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey). While it’s primarily theory rather than practice, there is a wonderful practical section in the last chapter that I feel could have a lot of good potential.
Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready – This year I signed on with Pocket Books to review some of their paranormal fiction (mainly romance novels, apparently). One of the first ones they sent me was this surprisingly good read that’s more on the urban fantasy end rather than romance. If you want some brain candy to balance out a good chunk of hefty nonfic, this is a good pick. Oh, and you should check out her totemic novel, Eyes of Crow, too (I have the sequel on my review pile).
A Field Guide to Modern Pagans in Hamilton, Ontario by Neil Jamieson Williams – I seem to have been particularly impressed by books in the past year that deal more with theory and social/etc. issues surrounding paganism as a set of religions and as a subculture, rather than the hands-on how-tos that are more common. This is a great niche-within-a-niche book, an academic-level sociological study of the pagan community in one particular city. Even if you aren’t a resident of Hamilton, Ontario, there are a lot of facts and figures in this slim volume that are worth pondering.
The Weiser Concise Guide to Herbal Magick by Judith Hawkins-Tillirson – Here’s something for those of you looking for the practical texts. While herbalism isn’t my forte, I was impressed by the author’s ability to write an incredibly versatile guide to this topic. Now we have something to recommend besides Cunningham (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek!).
Spirit Herbs by Amy “Moonlady” Martin Not long after the Weiser guide, I was given the chance to review this little gem. It’s got some great ideas for actual practices, especially if you want something more snazzy than the same old sage smudge. Couple this book with Hawkins-Tillirson’s work and you have a great combination for an aspiring herbal magician.
Drumming at the Edge of Magic by Mickey Hart – If you’re a drummer (or drum circle dancer) and you haven’t read this book–why haven’t you yet? By far one of the best books I’ve read ever, let alone just this year.
Drawing the Three of Coins by Terri Paajanen – Spilled Candy is an awesome small press, and I’ve liked everything of theirs I’ve seen so far. This one-of-a-kind practical guide to opening and running a pagan shop is an absolute must-have, as it covers numerous details that mainstream start-your-bookstore texts won’t have that are specific to pagan and occult businesses.
The Long Descent by John Michael Greer – Yes, I know a lot of my favorite books this year have been green. This may be the best of the bunch, honestly. Even though most of it has nothing to do with paganism, per se, it’s definitely one of the premiere books on the peak oil issue. Additionally, Greer included this incredible chapter on spirituality post-peak oil that should be mandatory reading for any pagan who has had the idea of buying land out in the southwest and starting a pagan commune (prepare to have your fantasies shattered, and your realities well-supported).
Spiritual Tattoo by John A. Rush – As one of the ranks of inked folks, I thoroughly enjoyed this academic-level exploration of the history of tattooing and related scarification as a spiritual practice.
Runes for Transformation by Kaedrich Olsen – While I haven’t read runes in years, I loved this book–not the least reason of which being that Olsen does a remarkably good balancing act between traditional lore and solid research, and modern perspectives and experimentation. We need more books like this.
When God is Gone, Everything is Holy by Chet Raymo – Don’t let the Catholicism fool you–this is a superb book that raises a lot of questions on theology that will be as applicable to paganism as any denomination of Christianity.
Ecopsychology by various – Oh, hell, why not one more green text? Even if you aren’t a sustainability or psychology geek like me, the spiritual overtones in some of the essays (particularly the one on neoshamanism in therapeutic practice, and the one on magical thinking) should make this a good choice for the pagan reader.
There were plenty of other great books this year (as well as some real losers!), but those are ones that really stood out to me. That being said, I’m looking at my review shelf which is full to overflowing, plus all the books that I’ve bought from various places or have been given and haven’t read yet, and I’m betting that this coming year is going to be even better. (Seriously–I have a few publishers who have been sending me all kinds of stuff to read!) Thank you to everyone who has read the reviews, left comments, clicked on links, supported my own writing and publishing efforts, and otherwise helped me to feel even better about creating this blog in the first place. As they say on teh intarwebz, “Made of WIN and AWESOME”.