Happy 6th Blogiversary!

blogiversary

Today is In Search of the End of the Sidewalk’s 6th blogiversary!

Over the last six years I’ve written from four different homes in three different countries, traveled to countless more, and read/reviewed hundreds of books.

Celebrate the big “6” with me today by sharing In Search of the End of the Sidewalk with six friends who are either travel enthusiasts or bibliophiles! It is great seeing the blog’s readership increase and I love sharing travel/reading recommendations with friends new and old.

 

Changes Coming to a Blog Near You

I’ve been hinting at some blog changes recently, and it is finally getting close to time to put them into place. With my move back Stateside for the next year or two (actual length of the DC stay should be determined by early November), the travel part of In Search of the End of the Sidewalk will be a bit quieter. There will still be occasional posts (hopefully one soon about my trip today to the new Smithsonian African-American History and Culture museum and definitely one next week about my first-ever trip to New York City), but it is hard to maintain a SE Asia travel itinerary out of Washington DC. (No Air Asia hub? How can I fly to Singapore for a $23?) So, while travel posts will still come as I am able to indulge, I don’t want this blog to wither away, meaning that much of its focus for the next bit is going to focus on my other love: books and literature. I already have regular book postings, and these will continue. I plan to see out my 2016 Book Challenge (although, I must admit it is getting more challenging as the calendar progresses) and will still repost my regular book review that I submit to The Caldwell Perspective once it is published by the paper each month.

Status quo then, you are thinking? So far, nothing here is new or exciting. (Well, other than then awesome new format!)

But wait!

You see, here is the brain-struggle I’ve been having lately. I read. A lot. And I would like to include more of those book on In Search of the End of the Sidewalk, but the reality is that when I read two to three books a week, I am just not going to write one to two page reviews detailing each one. Laziness? Maybe. But more than that, I am always too excited to get on to the next book in my queue!

Solution: Card Catalog Reviews!

This idea came about after hours of brainstorming and then a few short minutes of inspiration with a fellow blogger and friend. It has taken a bit of time to pull together, as I needed some new low-tech equipment to make it happen, but soon you’ll be privy to several new book reviews each week!

Short. Sweet. To the point.

A card catalog card gives me space for about 125 words. It will be a flash review of what I’m reading and whether I say “run to the library now!” or “eh, maybe wait for the next review.”

I’m excited to get these new reviews up and running on the blog. My adorable new-to-me typewriter is settled on the table and ready to roll, my pile of library-grade cards stacked in a neat pile next to it and now it is time to forge ahead with a new chapter at In Search of the End of the Sidewalk. Look for the first Card Catalog Review to hit the site in the next few days. (They will commence just as soon as I finish with the visual updates on the blog. No need for an introduction there, as if you are reading this, you’ve seen the huge change from a vertical feed to a horizontal one. I’m loving the new “bookshelf” look, but I know it will take us all a bit of time to get used to navigating the new format. Stick with me. I promise you will soon love it as much as I do!)

Until then, thanks for coming along for the ride, and hopefully you will find a great book to read, or maybe one to avoid, but always continue searching sidewalks.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List

While this blog is mostly a travel blog, it does have a second life as a book blog, although I must admit to having neglected that section in recent months. It is something I feel guilty about. (I do guilt pretty well.)

But, recently, the owner of the fabulous Erratic Project Junkie blog and friend from high school (also my amazing dentist) recommended that I participate in a book-driven top ten list run by The Broke and the Bookish. What a great idea! This will give me a focus for my book blogs that is more than just the reviews I was doing before and hopefully keep the literary part of In Search of the End of the Sidewalk from dying entirely. I can’t promise I will post a new top ten list every Tuesday, but at least this will resuscitate my floundering “Book Musings” tag.

This week’s theme is “Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List” which is absolutely perfect as my new term at school starts a week from today and I spent this last weekend Skyping with my thesis adviser and creating a reading list for one of my courses. I placed a huge start-of-the-semester order with Amazon yesterday, so now I eagerly await the boxes to come rolling in through our embassy mail room. (It is times like this that two-week mail kills me!)

So, without further ado, here is my inaugural Top Ten Tuesday list.

(In no particular order, but can you sense a theme here?! I may or may not be working towards a thesis about travel literature, so these books are going to be my life for the next year or so.)

                    Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List
1. Angry Wind: Through Muslim Black Africa by Truck, Bus, Boat, and Camel by Jeffrey Tayler

2. Methods for Teaching Travel Literature and Writing: Exploring the World and Self (Travel Writing

Across the Disciplines) by Eileen Groom

3. Forgiving the Boundaries: Home as Abroad in American Travel Writing by Terry Caesar

4. The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia by Brian Hall

5. The Long Hitch Home by Jamie Maslin

6. Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World’s Most Dangerous Country by Tim Butcher

7. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

8. Tourists with Typewriters: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Travel Writing by Patrick Holland

9. Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey

10. Wide-Open World: How Volunteering Around the Globe Changed One Family’s Lives Forever by John Marshall

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Blogging for Bucks

A zoo without zebras…

Idaho without potatoes…

Waffles without syrup…

An English teacher without students…

All are hopelessly adrift in a sea of slight melancholy. Until, that is, they find their missing piece. Luckily, I’ve found mine! (My “piece “might disagree with the “lucky” part though.)

Last Thursday, when I got the email from our fabulous mail clerk saying, “Today there is a little mail,” I, like many others in the consulate, locked up shop and headed out back to the mailroom in hopes that a bit of that “little mail” would be addressed to me. Surprisingly, the sun was out, forcing me to dig through my purse to find my seldom used sunglasses for the short walk around the building. But, the search of shades and the short walk were worth my effort- mail in the Ross bin! I had two Netflix movies, a bill from my dermatologist (you know, the one I pay a lot of money to hack off my fingernails, reducing my weekly manicure time by 30%) and a hand addressed envelope. Exciting!

After checking to see what movies I had for the weekend and making a mental note to send off a check to the doctor, I sliced open the edge of the mystery envelope. Inside, I found a letter from my niece, who is going into the 7th grade in just a few short weeks. She’s a budding biologist, hoping to be a veterinarian in the future. To that end, she is going to Florida next summer with her science class, on a five-day visit to wildlife parks, swamps and the ocean. But, as with most great experiences, there is the little issue of the almighty dollar. The fieldtrip costs a lot. She is thirteen. Those two things don’t go together so well.

Hence, the plea for help.

I’m not about to send the child cash, just for the heck of it, but, I will gladly put her to work! Not being there to employ her as a backyard pooper scooper or knick-knack duster, and feeling the tug of the classroom as my Facebook feed blows up with my teacher friends bemoaning the end of summer, I came up with a better plan: I would pay her to write!

In the last six months, she has started two blogs, both of which never really got off the ground. This was the perfect chance to support her fundraising efforts and encourage her to spend time writing. The English teacher in me could hardly contain myself!

So, I sent her a proposal. I would pay her a set amount for each blog entry she posted, but they had to follow a few simple guidelines. (For example, they had to be well-organized, not just a single, gigantic paragraph.) Within those basic parameters, she is free to write about whatever she would like- school, dance, family, her summer adventures, etc.

I am super excited for her to start writing and posting on her blog and I am more than happy to throw down a bit of cash as an encouragement. (Now, if only I could get someone to pay me to write!) Her first post went up today at http://zebradancer.wordpress.com/ and is a fun look at the day she spent at Idaho’s first aquarium.

I may not have a classroom full of 8th graders to pester about reading and writing, but with middle school aged nieces/nephews, I’ll work my magic anyhow.