2020 Recap: Blogging Adventures

Yes, the first month of 2021 is almost over and I’m still recapping last year. Today, it’s all about looking back on my blogging adventures!

Unexpectedly, I had a really, really good blogging year (one pro of being unemployed 😛 ). As someone who says they’re not creative, I was surprised in looking back at how many original features I created this past year! I fully embraced expanding beyond my typical collection of book reviews and life updates and experimented with other types of content and formats.

And I loved it! True, it was a lot of work, especially near the end of the year when I started introducing a new feature every month. But I had so much to share and I’m so pleased with the response I got from all of you!

Read on for more on these features and links to check them out if you missed them!


January

After a two year wait, I finally launched Lovely Libraries! Since my university in Toronto had 44 libraries on campus, and I only ever used the one in my faculty’s building, I decided to spend a summer visiting each one. And of course as a lover of lists, I made a pros and cons list for each one I visited so I unintentionally had all the notes I needed to create this feature on the blog!

Whether or not you’re in Toronto and able to use those spaces, it’s still interesting to see how each library is set up differently and gets you thinking about the kinds of things you look for in a library or study space. Most of the ones in this feature are academic spaces (so far) but I also had a special feature on the LA Public Library!

I also followed Jenna’s @ Falling Letters example and brought her Month in Review feature to the blog, where I recap that month’s reads, reviews, blog posts, and updates on my reading challenges. Clearly based on these 2020 recap posts, I love looking back (I’m a nostalgic person, what can I say) so these posts have been perfect to reflect on the previous month, see where I need to get caught up on reviews or reading challenges, and brainstorm the next month’s posts.

I was pleasantly surprised that I managed to keep up with it for a whole year, as I initially thought it might be something I do every now and then, but Jenna’s template is so easy to follow and it really is nice to reflect on that month’s work.


March

March marked the re-launch of Music Monday with the help of collaborator, Liam Sturgess! Music Monday was the first original feature I ever created for this blog (thanks to a review request from a band that writes songs based on books), but it had fallen off in recent years. So I was incredibly excited that Liam agreed to an interview, which also marked my first interview for the blog that took place in-person rather than over email!

Music Monday posts are based on any kind of connection between music and reading that you can think of, and which I encourage all of you to participate in too! This year, it was poetry written with song lyrics, book recommendations based on songs and an event supporting music education, and guest posts on the process of writing prose and music. Music and reading are two of my biggest loves so it’s a lot of fun to be able to incorporate them both into a post.


May

The funny thing about those Month in Review posts is that I can see all the times I promised that the next month would be when I finally created new graphics for the blog 😛 Well despite that 2019 project becoming a 2020 project, I’m still working on it.

BUT! I did re-brand my bookish discussion posts, playing around with titles in May until I officially landed on “Spines Speak” in August. This is where you can go for all of my bookish posts that don’t fall into the other categories on my blog (so not Lovely Libraries, Music Mondays, or Life Updates) — including bookish memes, event recaps, and book recommendations.

I also reworked the menu and navigation of the blog, cleaned up the sidebar, updated my stable pages (though these may still be getting some updates), created a new template for reviews, and even switched over to the Block Editor (which has mostly worked). This past weekend was dedicated to addressing my very messy tags: down from 990 tags to 221! A new logo is in the works and dare I say it’ll be ready this year?


July

I continued my reviews of beautiful book spaces with Beautiful Bookstores launching in July! So far, these showcase the bookstores in Vancouver that I was able to visit last year, but I still have some Winnipeg ones I’d like to share and there are many more Vancouver spots I haven’t been to yet so this feature is ongoing.

I’m not a big book buyer but it’s always nice to be able to wander around an indie bookstore, especially used bookstores, and stumble on a book I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. Of course, a little more difficult these days but something to look forward to!


August

August saw a new sub-feature in Music Mondays with Audiobook August, my first research-intensive series (it even has a bibliography!). I attended a webinar on how to be an audiobook narrator (for curiosity’s sake) but it got me interested in all things audiobooks. Enter this feature, a foray into the world of audiobooks with an overview of the format, details on the production process, and the importance of the accessibility of the format itself and its distribution.

It ended up working out perfectly that I had my research complete in time for August with that perfect alliteration, but if there’s more you’d like to know about audiobooks and have some unanswered questions, I’m happy to continue with the series next summer!

Graphic with text that reads "Audiobook August, Spines in a Line, Join in! #AudiobookAugust #MusicMonday". Text is laid over photo of books on a shelf.

September

Book hiding is SO. MUCH. FUN. and I was so glad to finally put together a feature to share this on the blog with my Book Hiding Tips! These tips cover materials to get started, recommendations on best hiding spots, the different online communities you can join, and some inspiration from my Toronto book hiding adventures.

This is undeniably my favourite feature and I was so incredibly pleased with the response, with nearly twice as many views as my posts usually get! While I’ve engaged with a lot of folks on social media who hide books, there seem to be very few who are also book bloggers and I always get a lot of interest (and some confusion) when I post about book hiding on my platforms, so I’m happy to be able to introduce the activity to new audiences!


October

The following month, I re-launched my Organization Tips and Tricks feature, another one that fell by the wayside the past couple years but I still had lots of tips to offer! I’d originally offered tips on using a planner to track your reading back in 2018. This past year I added tips on using bullet journals, organizing your reviews, and how to handle promo and scheduling posts.

Another one I’m happy to continue with if you have more requests on how to organize your reading, blogging, or life! I love all things to do with organization (whether or not I end up following the systems I set up for myself) so it’s a lot of fun to delve into these things.


November

I really got into creating new features every month in the last half of the year! 😛 In November, I launched my Bookshelf Tour, a feature to share the books on my shelf and my special connection to them, as well as some wishlist reads I hope to acquire soon.

Now that I’ve moved, most of these books are back in Winnipeg but once I have a dedicated bookshelf and it’s safe to travel back and forth, I’ll be able to have all those books together again! I’ve gotten some book mail already in the new place so perhaps I’ll share those titles soon as well.


December

My final new feature of the year was The Cookie Chapters! I offered book recommendations based on my favourite holiday treats: sweet stories for sugar cookies, unique retellings of classics for shortbread, “spicy” reads (in romance or humour) for gingerbread, and books with twists for lemon bars.

I love the holidays, especially the baked goods my family often makes, so this was a really fun feature to make. I don’t often give book recommendations outside of my regular reviews but my 2020 reads ended up pairing so naturally with holiday treats. Plus I got to collaborate with my sis, who baked many of the goodies I featured in these posts!

Text overlaid on a photo of decorated Christmas cookies. Some of them read "Noel" and others decorated with snowmen, the Grinch, and Santa. Text reads "The Cookie Chapters with @spinesinaline. Join in! #TheCookieChapters #SpinesInALine, cookies by @WhatWillCassCreate".

All in all, I created 6 original features, introduced another blogger’s feature into my regular blogging, and re-launched or rebranded another 3 original features! 10 whole features! So much good stuff and I’m looking forward to continuing these creative ventures this year as well.

I had a lot of fun putting this post together and getting the chance to reflect on how my blogging has grown, and I hope you enjoy it too. 🙂

What are some blogging accomplishments you achieved last year?
Do you have a favourite type of post you like to write?

Photo of Liam Sturgess provided by musician ; cover artwork for We Are the Foxes provided by band.
All other images by blogger.

3 thoughts on “2020 Recap: Blogging Adventures

  1. I took a page from your blog after contributing to your Music Monday. I also went from a weekly blog to at least 5 times a week.
    On the topic of libraries: One of the experiences I enjoy is walking into an old library – especially if there is a newer addition leading to it. The smell of the wood and paper, the creak of the floorboards, and the change in lighting is like walking back in time. My favorite one which I sadly only had a few minutes to be in was the NYC public library. One word: Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

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