Book Chat: My 2015 Reading Plan (February Update)

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***  February 2015 Update  ***


This is the year I'm reading a few of those 
forgotten books that are languishing on my personal shelves. 

Over the years, my reviewing duties have slowly cut into the time I have to read the books I've purchased on my own. Personally, I love to read travel memoirs, but I don't get to read many of those on book tours. I've also gotten away from book reading challenges in the past few years. I liked the challenges because breaking outside my usual genres always yields surprisingly great books. I'll still be working on book reviews and blog tours, just being more selective. 


Here's how the whole 
2015 reading challenge 
thing is going:


Grand Total of books read in 2015:  18




Lavish Bookshelf Challenge 2015: 
Tackling the To-Be-Read (TBR) Pile - One book per week (6/52)
  1. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff  (Finished January 2015)
  2. Africa Trek by Alexandre Poissin
  3. Alice Princess by Alice Princess Siwundhla
  4. Amazon Journal by Geoffrey O'Connor
  5. Annapurna by Maurice Herzog
  6. Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger
  7. Arcadia by Lauren Groff
  8. Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw by Will Ferguson
  9. Berserk by David Mercy
  10. Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
  11. Catfish and Mandala by Andrew Pham
  12. Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron
  13. Daisy Bates in the Desert by Julia Blackburn
  14. Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
  15. Desert Queen by Janet Wallach
  16. East Along the Equator by Helen Winternitz   (Finished January 2015)
  17. Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach (Finished February 2015)
  18. Emotions by Charles Stanley
  19. Endurance by Alfred Lansing (Finished February 2015)
  20. Four Corners by Kira Salak
  21. Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
  22. Great Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough 
  23. Halfway to Each Other by Susan Pohlman
  24. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  25. In Silence by Ruth Sidransky
  26. In Trouble Again by Redmond O'Hanlon
  27. Little House in the Arctic by Kathy Slamp
  28. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  29. Measure of All Things by Ken Alder
  30. Memoirs of an English Governess in a Siamese Court by Anna Leonowens
  31. Motoring with Mohammed by Eric Hansen
  32. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
  33. No Horizon is So Far by Ann Bancroft
  34. Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli
  35. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  36. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  37. Road Fever by Tim Cahill
  38. Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje (Finished January 2015)
  39. Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama  (Finished February 2015)
  40. Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
  41. Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich
  42. Sycamore Row by John Grisham
  43. The Summons by John Grisham
  44. The Associate by John Grisham
  45. The Client by John Grisham
  46. Through a Window by Jane Goodall
  47. Too Close to the Sun by Sara Wheeler
  48. Turkish Reflections by Mary Settle
  49. Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma
  50. Unheard by Josh Swiller
  51. Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
  52. Winter in Arabia by Freya Stark

Other books To Be Read this year (if I have a LOT of extra time):
  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Harry Potter Series (the entire series!) by J. K. Rowling




Book Riot's Read Harder in 2015 Challenge   
(3/24 completed)
  1. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25
  2. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65
  3. collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)
  4. A book published by an indie press
  5. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ
  6. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own
  7. A book that takes place in Asia -- No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs
  8. A book by an author from Africa
  9. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture 
  10. microhistory
  11. YA novel
  12. sci-fi novel
  13. romance novel
  14. National Book AwardMan Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
  15. A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)
  16. An audiobook
  17. A collection of poetry
  18. A book that someone else has recommended to you -- Endurance by Alfred Lansing
  19. A book that was originally published in another language
  20. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind 
  21. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure 
  22. A book published before 1850
  23. A book published this year
  24. self-improvement book -- Clutter Free by Kathi Lipp 




Aussie Author Challenge 2015   
(0/3 completed)
  • WALLABY - Reading Challenge Level
    • Read and review 3 titles written by Australian authors, of which at least 1 of those authors are female, at least 1 of those authors are male, and at least 1 of those authors are new to you;
    • Fiction or non-fiction, any genre



2015 Reading Challenge from PopSugar    
(6/50 completed)

  1. Book w/ 500+ pages
  2. Classic romance
  3. Book that became a movie
  4. Book published this year (2015)
  5. Book w/ a number in the title
  6. Book written by someone under 30
  7. Book w/ nonhuman characters
  8. Funny book
  9. Book by female author -- What is Found, What is Lost by Anne Leigh Parrish 
  10. Mystery or thriller
  11. Book w/ one-word title -- Endurance by Alfred Lansing
  12. Book of short stories
  13. Book set in a different country -- No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs
  14. Nonfiction
  15. Popular author's first book
  16. Book from an author you love that you haven't read yet
  17. Book a friend recommended
  18. Pulitzer Prize-winning book
  19. Book based on true story
  20. Book at bottom of your to-read list -- East Along the Equator by Helen Winternitz
  21. Book your mom loves
  22. Book that scares you
  23. Book more than 100 years old
  24. Book based on its cover
  25. Book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
  26. A memoir -- Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
  27. Book you can finish in a day
  28. Book w/ antonyms in the title
  29. Book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
  30. Book that came out the year you were born
  31. Book w/ bad reviews
  32. A trilogy
  33. Book from your childhood
  34. Book w/ a love triangle
  35. Book set in the future
  36. Book set in high school
  37. Book w/ color in the title -- Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley 
  38. Book that made you cry
  39. Book w/ magic
  40. Graphic novel
  41. Book by an author you've never read before
  42. Book you own but have never read
  43. Book that takes place in your hometown  
  44. Book that was originally written in different language
  45. Book set during Christmas
  46. Book written by an author with your same initials
  47. A play
  48. A banned book
  49. Book based on or turned into a TV show
  50. Book you started but never finished

FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Book Chat: Should Americans Read More Translated Books?

This post may contain affiliate links. To learn more, please read Lavish Bookshelf's disclosure policy.







I have recently learned about Smartling, a website translation service. This website had me thinking about literature from around the world. 
  • Why should I (or anyone else) read translated books?
  • Do I personally read enough translated fiction?  
  • Do I even know what translated works are worth reading? 

BBC: Why won't English Speakers Read Books in Translation?

Starting with my To Be Read pile I'm trying to finish in 2015, I found 6 books that are probably translated books. Honestly, though, I don't know if they actually are translated. Many authors are so brilliant that they speak one language and write novels in English. Which brings me to the premise of the BBC article. Publishers of English speaking books are not publishing many books per year that are actually translated. Regarding books translated into English, "Compare Anglophone two or three per cent to figures in France, where 27% of books published are in translation. And if that sounds a lot, you might care to know that in Spain it’s 28%, Turkey 40%, and Slovenia a whopping 70%." Perhaps this is a chicken/egg problem. Since access to great books from other languages is not easy, translated books are not a priority to the English-reading world. Either way, I find this pretty sad.



Words Without Borders: Why Translations Matter
Rochester University: Why Literature in Translation is SUPER SUPER IMPORTANT

Books are a window into another time, place and culture. Even if I won the lottery and could travel to every corner of the globe, I would still never be able to experience life as is depicted in so many wonderful books. Books in translation provide insights into families, struggles, challenges and dreams that a traveler would never be able to experience. 

The key to enjoying a book from another language is a good translation, I suppose. When I invest the time in a translated book, I want to experience the sights, sounds, smells and feelings that the author intended. As an English-speaker, I need to have subtle cultural references explained to me and jokes should be translated so precisely that I find myself laughing as well. 

In college I had the privilege of studying world literature. It might have been one of the best classes ever. By reading several carefully curated books, I was able to understand the horrors of wars fought in faraway countries. I learned of freshly prepared delicacies and cultural taboos. My world literature studies was a chance to travel the planet, all within the pages of translated books.





Publisher's Weekly: 20 Best Books in Translation
UK's Book Trust: Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Winner for 2014 
FlavorWire: 50 Works of Fiction in Translation that Every English Speaker Should Read 

Stunningly, I have read a paltry 4 of the 50 international classics on the FlavorWire list. And I consider myself to be a well-read individual! My reading list is intentional by nature. And yet, as I look at my own reading choices, I'm shocked to find see how English-centric my readings choices really are.


My Favorite Works in Translation:
Now that I have been reminded the importance of reading works in translation, I'm planning to add many books to my reading list. A few of the translated books that I have recently already enjoyed are:




Final Thought: 
Of course Emily Dickinson is not an author translated into English. Even so, this poem sums up my thoughts about books and travel...and books translated into English!




What are your favorite works in translation? 


Do you agree that books are a 
unique way to travel the world?

Homeschool Review: Pick and Draw

This post may contain affiliate links. To learn more, please read Lavish Bookshelf's disclosure policy.

 Note: Originally this review was posted on Heart of the Matter Online, which is no longer online. I'm now reposting my review here for all of my wonderful Lavish Bookshelf readers. 






Have you heard of Pick and Draw?

Part educational game, part art lessons...
WE LOVE PICK AND DRAW!



Part art lesson and part card game, Pick and Draw can teach basic cartooning techniques to kids of all ages using a quick step-by-step approach that is fun and very easy to understand. 
Getting started with Pick and Draw is very simple. The entire Pick and Draw product is packaged to look like a deck of cards. Within the deck are five different facial features to draw, including eye and nose shapes and hairstyles. Then for each facial feature, Pick and Draw provides 9 distinctly different cartooning options. 
To begin playing Pick and Draw, five cards are chosen at random, one from each facial feature category. Using paper and a pencil, a player first draws the face shape that is shown on the card. Next, the player adds the nose, eyes, mouth and hair shapes that are displayed on each particular chosen card. That’s it! The adorable cartoon face is done! It’s really that simple. 
For added educational benefit, once the drawing of numerous faces are complete, homeschooling parents could assign creative writing assignments such as having kids give their cartoon faces a name and personality. Children will also enjoy writing a fanciful story to give life to their Pick and Draw cartoon faces. 
My entire family really enjoyed Pick and Draw. My kids that have been enrolled in expensive art lessons loved Pick and Draw because of the ability to manipulate just one card (of the five needed for a particular face) in order to create some very different cartoon faces. As for me, I have no art training whatsoever. However, by following designs on the five cards faithfully, even I was able to draw adorable and funny cartoon faces! 
Pick and Draw really is easy to understand and can be enjoyed by the entire family. It’s small and as portable as a deck of cards, so you can also take Pick and Draw along on your next trip.



FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Homeschool Book Review: Reader's Digest Educational Reference Books

This post may contain affiliate links. To learn more, please read Lavish Bookshelf's disclosure policy.

 Note: Originally this review was posted on Heart of the Matter Online, which is no longer online. I'm now reposting my review here for all of my wonderful Lavish Bookshelf readers. 
Image: galleryhip.com
Reader’s Digest has a reputation for quality articles and writing. Reader’s Digest educational reference books are no exception.
     
  • I Wish I Knew That is subtitled “Cool Stuff You Need to Know” and that is really true. Part educational, part trivial, the focus of this book is a quick understanding of basic educational subjects such as history, math and science. I Wish I Knew That also includes chapters that explain art, nature and “classic stuff.” This book does finish on with the science chapter with a section titled “where do you come from?” which is a 2-page detail explaining the theory of evolution. From Shakespeare to the Water Cycle to how to say “Hello” in Chinese, this book has a little bit of something for everyone of all ages and would really make a great gift book.
  • Write (or is that “Right”?) Every Time is a great summary of all things Language Arts, including grammar, spelling rules and punctuation guidelines. With short tidbits explaining topics such as the parts of speech, spelling plurals and when to use a comma, this book is an overview of Language Arts knowledge and is not intended as a complete curriculum. Homeschoolers might really like this book as a reference tool for elementary language arts rules. Want to know when to use quotation marks or what the object of a sentence is? This book is filled with short, easy to understand definitions and examples that can clear up Language Arts confusion with ease.
  • My Grammar and I…or Should That Be Me? is a great book for older homeschoolers who might want a little bit more help when it comes to grammar. Like Write (or is that “Right”?) Every Time, this book is an overview of language arts and would not work as a complete curriculum. With random quotes from Shakespeare, Winston Churchill and Edgar Allan Poe, My Grammar is is written for an older audience than Write Every Time. For example, a gerund is explained in My Grammar, but not in Write Every Time. To be honest, Write Every Time is more readable, but My Grammar is a better reference tool in our homeschool.

Purchase on Amazon:





FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Homeschool Review: Maestro Classics CDs

This post may contain affiliate links. To learn more, please read Lavish Bookshelf's disclosure policy.




Note: Originally this review was posted on Heart of the Matter Online, which is actually no longer online. I'm now reposting my review here for all of my wonderful Lavish Bookshelf readers. 
Music can touch a heart and make the imagination soar. 
As a child I had a small record player and a collection of classical music on 45s. (Yes, I’m that old.) For hours on end I would listen to wonderful orchestral pieces such as “Peter and the Wolf” and “Swan Lake.” The music would transport me from our tiny house to worlds far away on adventures that I would make up in my mind. The music became a soundtrack to my childhood stories. 
Naturally, as a mom, I have wanted the same musically creative outlets for my children. That’s why I was so impressed with Maestro Classics. Combining stories with music, Maestro Classics offers children their own musical experience. Using professional storytellers and actors, Maestro Classics brings new and old stories to life. What makes Maestro Classics so wonderful is that the soundtrack for the stories are provided by the world famous London Symphony Orchestra. Each CD contains several songs and stories that are all centered around a particular theme. 
Maestro Classics titles available:
  •  My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music
  • Peter and the Wolf
  • The Story of Swan Lake
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
  • The Tortoise and the Hare
  • Casey at the Bat
  • The Soldier’s Tale
  • Juanita The Spanish Lobster
  • Carnival of the Animals
Maestro Classics is the product of the husband and wife team, Stephen and Bonnie Simon. As the former Music Director of the Washington Chamber Symphony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Stephen Simon is also a famous symphony conductor. Bonnie Simon has also been deeply involved with the Washington Chamber Symphony as the former Executive Director of the organization. Biographies of this talented duo can be found on the Maestro Classics website. 
Homeschoolers will be especially pleased to find detailed coordinated homeschool curriculum for each of the Maestro Classic products. Using the website, a single Maestro Classic CD can quickly become a fun and educational unit study for your family. 
And speaking of the website, the Maestro Classic website itself is really a great site. Click on the “music and life” tab to learn of the importance of music in the home. This page is also filled with hints on how to increase listening experiences for your children. Kids can identify instruments to win a “prize” and parents can find links to other music education websites filled with games and lessons plans. The Kids Club section has musical puzzles, games and a link to find Maestro Classics on Pinterest. Over on Pinterest, the Maestro Classics board is filled with ideas such as how to make homemade instruments, musical games to play and lots of other great non-musical educational ideas. 
My family and I reviewed “Juanita the Spanish Lobster.” The story itself is a new story that we were not familiar with, however the storyteller drew us in immediately. We thoroughly enjoyed the London Symphony Orchestra providing the background music. Juanita is a lobster who wants more out of life, but in the end learns to stay in her place. Personally, I did not really enjoy that ending of the Juanita story, however the musical background, professional recording quality and the coordinated online homeschool curriculum made up for it. 


Book and CD Info:


  • Maestro Classics titles available:
    • My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music
    • Peter and the Wolf
    • The Story of Swan Lake
    • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
    • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
    • The Tortoise and the Hare
    • Casey at the Bat
    • The Soldier’s Tale
    • Juanita The Spanish Lobster
    • Carnival of the Animals
Purchase on Amazon: Juanita, the Spanish Lobster





FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.