Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Travel the World in Books Readathon Oct 2015, Day 11: Sharing our Real Life Travel Experiences

Our Travel the World in Books Readathon is a chance to read books to learn about different cultures and countries other than your own. Join us October 18-31, 2015 to expand your horizons, travel the world in books and let publishers know #WeNeedDiverseBooks.
Today is day 11 of our Travel the World in Books Readathon.  I hope you are all having a fabulous time reading books from around the world. I finished reading Rosemary Sullivan's book Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, so I've left Russia and traveled to Pakistan where I am now reading Malalya Yousafzai's book I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. Where have you spent your readathon travels?

If you haven’t heard, our readathon goal is quite get you reading more about other countries and cultures than your own. It's both a learning opportunity and a great excuse to cozy up with a good book and travel to places you might not otherwise be able to visit! My fabulous co-hosts (CHANGE LINKS FOR YOUR OTHER CO-HOSTS) Becca, Tanya, Lucy, Aloi and I have a great couple of weeks in store for you, check out the entire schedule of events here.


Today Heather of Based on a True Story is hosting our mini-challenge: displaying books and props that represent specific countries.  For example display your favorite books from France with a replica of the Eiffel tower. Head on over to Heather's blog to share your books and props.

Daily Discussion Posts

Travel the World in Books Readathon, Oct. 18-31, 2015. Daily discussion topics to get you talking about your favorite world books, authors, genres and places to visit. This year we want to get YOU talking about your favorite books, authors, genres, and characters. Every day we'll have a different topic of discussion. You can write a new blog post, link up a couple of old posts that are pertinent to the topic and/or leave comments answering our questions. Linkups will be open through 11/7/15 ( a week after the readathon ends to give you plenty of time to write a new post if you want).

Today's discussion topic:  travel post, somewhere you’ve been or a bucket list of places you’d like to go

Instagram Photo Challenge

I LOVE Instagram. Join us for our Instagram challenge for our Travel the World in Books Readathon, using our new shorter #TTWIBRAT hashtag. Be sure to follow your hosts on Instagram too: TanyaBecca, Lucy and Aloi . Tag each day's photos with the #TTWIBRAT hashtag. Don't worry if you miss a day, just share and tag the photo with #TTWIBRAT anytime! Today, head over and share a TRAVEL PHOTO, A PLACE YOU’VE BEEN IN REAL LIFE, HAVE LIVED OR WOULD LIKE TO GO . Have fun and I'll see you on Instagram!  [caption id="attachment_7107" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Travel the World in Books Readathon Instagram Photo Challenge. Join us October 18-31, 2015 for the readathon and share pictures of your favorite books and authors from around the world. Image courtesy of potowizard at[/caption]


Travel the World in Books Readathon Oct 2015 Giveaways! Sign up and enter to win one of 18 great books from around the world. You must be 18 years or older and a registered participant to be eligible for these giveaways. See the giveaways page for complete rules. Good luck and enjoy traveling the world in books!
Want to know more about our Travel the World in Books Readathon? Sign up here, check out our schedule of events, linkup your goals if you like and travel the world in books with us!  Want to continue the reading and traveling fun all year long? Sign up for our no-stress Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge and our Goodreads group too.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

My 5 Favorite Reading Spots in Amsterdam

Photos courtesy of Kate from The Diary of an Urban Housewife

Today the Travel the World in Books Readathon is traveling to Amsterdam where Kate from The Diary of an Urban Housewife shares her 5 favorite reading spots.  Enjoy:

Amsterdam is a beautiful city, I am so grateful that as an expat I have had the wonderful opportunity to live here. In case you don't know me, I am Kate, I own the blog The Diary of an Urban Housewife. I use that platform to record everything from our daily life to the wonderful travels we get to experience living all the way over in Europe. I know this sweet little city inside and out and learn something new about it everyday. The city is constantly alive, and some of my favorite haunts are unique, cozy, and perfect for settling in with a good book and an ice cold water or some mulled wine...depending on the season of course! So, without further ado I present my five favorite reading spots in Amsterdam... Side note: I also consider these "must visits" if you come to Amsterdam on a trip.
  1. Amstel Park.

    This is just across the street from my home. In the spring and summer it is blooming with gorgeous flowers, and in the fall the leaves are changing colors. There are always people around, but it has so many nice areas where you can lay down a blanket or sit on a bench and you feel completely secluded. You would almost think you are completely alone, not smack in the middle of the city with dozens of people running around the park.
  2. Cafe Zuiver.

    I discovered this one day after having lunch with my husband, it is just a block from his office. They have delicious coffee and the cutest atmosphere, with a wonderful garden out back that is wonderful on a sunny day whether it is hot or cold!
  3. Cafe 't Hooischip.

    This is an old Dutch brown bar....they serve great gluhwein (mulled wine) and they have one of the best apple pies in the city. It is directly across the street from the National Ballet and Opera so it is the perfect place to go after a free Tuesday lunch concert!
  4. Amsterdam Central Station Starbucks or Rembrandtplein Starbucks.

    As an expat, sometimes you just need a little bit of home. There are days when you are just tired from being an expat and miss home..well, a Starbucks is always a little bit of America on international soil. You can get a drip coffee, a flavoured latte, or a caramel hot cocoa without everyone thinking you are insane. Plus, you can sit and relax for as long as you want because that is how Starbucks rolls! These two places are particularly cozy because the one at Centraal Station is located just off the Ij so you can see the ferries and boats coming as you relax and get in to a good book, the one at Rembrandtplein is nice because you can often meet up with other expats who are doing the same as you-looking for a little bit of relaxation and reading.
  5. De Koffieschenkerij.

    This is actually located in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, but it is full of history. It is attached to the Oude Kerk which is the church the red light district was built around. This is by far my favorite place to read and have coffee as it radiates history. In fact, in the back room of this coffee shop they say is where Rembrandt met his wife Saskia, doesn't get much cooler than that!
These are just a few of my favorite places to get out of the house and read, it can be such a cozy experience to find a cozy corner in a cafe. Where is your favorite place to read when you want to get out of the house?

About Kate:

Kate is an American expat living in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She moved abroad with her husband and 15 year old daughter. Kate loves to spend her days reading, cooking, crafting, and if not at home touring Amsterdam and has made it her personal goal to visit every museum possible in a city known for its museums. In her spare time Kate loves to write about her travels on her blog, The Diary of an Urban Housewife. This is not only a platform to record everything that happens, but an outlet to help other travelers, and especially other expats if they are considering coming to the Netherlands.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Announcing the 2nd Travel the World in Books Readathon

"Image courtesy of potowizard at"

Last year Becca of I'm Lost in Books, Tanya of Mom's Small Victories and I created a challenge to read more books from around the world. You can learn about how to sign up for the challenge and about my challenge goals here. Along with the challenge, we also hosted a Readathon giving everyone an opportunity to read and discuss books that take place in countries other than their own.

Today I am delighted to announce the readathon is back for a 2nd year. We’ve extended it to two weeks to provide more reading and discussion time. We’ve also added two great co-hosts. Tanya, Becca, Lucy and Aloi and I have come up with some great activities, check out the entire schedule of events here.

The goals for the Readathon are simple: read books that take place in countries other than your own.

Traveling around the world through books has always been a passion of mine. I continue to be amazed by how little some people know about geography and cultures outside of their community.
Here are some of my recent conversations with casual acquaintances:

My friend is being transferred to Belgium. Where is that? Somewhere in Europe right. (This statement was more shocking when I learned this person was a teacher).

I’d never go on a safari in Africa. I’m afraid I’d contact Ebola. See Ebola fears crippling Africa's safari industry.

My friend is interning in a third world country in South America. I think it is Portugal. When I say that doesn’t sound right, she texts a friend who informs her it is Paraguay.

I currently live in Wisconsin and read mostly nonfiction. My goals for the readathon are as follows:

1. Finish reading Rosemary Sullivan's book Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva. This book takes place in Russia and the U.S. It also touches on Switzerland, India and England.

2. Finish reading Nicholas D. Kristof's book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide which has been on my reading list for years. It provides insight into several countries where women struggle to receive adequate health care and basic human rights.

3. Start reading Malala Yousafzai's book I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban which is also the discussion pick for Nonfiction November.

4. While preparing this post, I realized I’ve never written a post summarizing the nonfiction books I’ve read and recommend by country, so I plan to do so. Watch for it Tuesday, October 27th.

5. Participate in the evening twitter chat.

Are you participating in the Travel the World in Books Readathon? What books do you plan to read?

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Getting Back into Blogging

I received an email this week from a fellow blogger asking if I had quit blogging. My original plan was to take a week off. Somehow that week turned into two and the next thing I know I hadn’t blogged since August. To get back into the swing of things I’ve decided to provide an update. Here is my current status:


I am finally getting caught up at after an employee in my department resigned earlier this year. We were both working 40+ hours per week, so after she left my workload became overwhelming as I attempted to cover both positions. Initially, we brought in a temp who did not work out and were disappointed to learn she had asked the agency to be reassigned two full weeks before they felt the need to share that information with us. During that period she created an incredible mess; incorrect postings, duplicate payments and from what we surmise - throwing her mail away. We are still making corrections. We recently hired a full-time and a part-time employee who I am confident will be great hires.


I cancelled my gym membership and joined Jazzercise. With my increased work-load I was no longer able to attend the fitness classes I enjoyed at my old gym. Feeling depressed and lethargic, I asked a former gym member how she was liking Jazzercise. She loved it and invited me to a class. Impressed with the class variety, schedule, fitness instructors, location and the price (I receive a discount through my medical insurance) I joined and am back to working out consistently.


Since my last post I finished reading Isabelle Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. I had an “aha moment” when Wilkerson mentioned of the three lives she followed for the great migration she considered Ida Mae the happiest. Ida Mae also lived the longest. Instead of living with regrets or trying to be someone she was not she accepted who she was and lived in the moment. I have spent years living in the future – retired, self-employed or anywhere but at work. This book inspired me to read Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown. Both books helped pull me out of my workplace funk and back to a more balanced state mind.

Travel the World in Books read-a-thon: The Travel the World in Book's team has chosen October 18-31st for this year’s read-a-thon. I’m already compiling a list of books and have chosen Rosemary Sullivan's book Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva as my first read. Stay tuned for more information on the read-a-thon and our challenge.

Dog Update:
Buck, our golden retriever, was diagnosed with lymphoma earlier this year. After deciding against chemotherapy, our vet prescribed a steroid regimen and told us to begin preparing for his demise. After a rocky couple of months, I am happy to report yesterday was Buck’s 12th birthday. We celebrated with lots of photos and birthday treats. He seemed to enjoy himself and now when someone says the word birthday he stands by the treat jar.

In the spirit of a friend’s resent trip to Tuscany we watched Under the Tuscan Sun last night. This was one of those rare instances where I enjoyed the movie more than the book. The movie is quite different in that Francis is portrayed as single while in actuality she is married and bought the home in Tuscany with her husband.

Have you ever taken a lengthy break from blogging? Did you miss it? What brought you back?

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