Book Read 'Round the World: Sharing My Book Hobo Experience

Lost on Planet China = Purple Pin
Journeyed from Cedar Park, TX, USA to Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England
Distance Traveled = 4826 mi. / 7767 km.

Carin (me!) from Cedar Park, TX, USA
I received word from Carly at Writing from the Tub on July 27 that she received Lost on Planet China so I can now do my post about my shopping experience for her! Click HERE to read my review of Lost on Planet China and make sure you stop by Writing from the Tub as well!


Since I am hosting the Book Read 'Round the World event, I started first in the rotation because it is no fun just getting a book and no other gift in the mail (Sorry Rikki! You were such a good sport about The Enchanted April)! I made up for it by ordering another book with it and a CD for my husband so I could get free shipping from (the other book was The Girl Who Played with Fire for those of you who are wondering).


Since Rikki and I were the first to get the books, Rikki asked me a few questions about Texas. I admit that I am not an expert because even though I've lived here for almost 11 years, I still consider myself to be a New Mexican!

1. What do I need to see when I go to Texas? Apart from the typical tourist things like the Alamo, Riverwalk, etc. What are the secret spots that tourists never get to see?

Well, I have to say that I thought I wouldn't live in Texas very long so I haven't done the touristy things or made an effort to learn much about the state. That's so bad! I'm trying to change that now. There have been two things that I've done that might be considered touristy, but I think are still worth doing. If you come to Texas, you must brave the heat and attend a Texas A&M football game at Kyle Field in College Station, TX. I had NO idea how avid the fans are. They aren't normal fans. They know all the yells (cheers for all you normal people) and the student section stands for the ENTIRE game. It is definitely a one of a kind experience. To give an example of how unique the games are, after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, life pretty much stopped for a few weeks. When sports in the country resumed a few weeks later, the student body had organized a "Red, White, And Blue Out" and printed probably over 70,000 t-shirts to show solidarity with the nation for their game on September 22, 2001. I thought that was pretty cool and I don't think there was another sporting event that pulled that off in that time period. They have a "Maroon Out" game every year (the Texas A&M Aggie colors are Maroon and White) which also looks pretty cool.

Source: Wikimedia
The other thing I would recommend doing is Fossil Rim in Glen Rose, TX. It's this really cool wildlife place that you drive through in your car. You can purchase feed pellets and throw them out to the animals as you drive through the property. We went a few years ago and at times got a little too up close and personal with some of the animals. A zebra stuck his head into my car trying to get the pellets and an ostrich decided to enforce the pecking order on my hood! Super fun day though!


2. What is a typical Texan dish?

This is another one that I have trouble with. Tex-Mex food is very popular here, but I don't really like it since the food I grew up with in New Mexico is really different (and better of course...hehe...just kidding). 

Texans like to eat chili which is typically made with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, pinto/kidney/or black beans, garlic, cumin,and red chili. I found out that it's actually the state dish which I didn't know. Here's a recipe on The other things that I think Texans are known for is Pecan Pie. Oh how good is this stuff! It's terrible for you so I usually make it and only have a tiny piece at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here's the recipe I use: Burt's Southern Pecan Pie on


Well, I hope you guys aren't disappointed, but my photos didn't come out that well so I will let Carly show you what she got from me in the mail, but I will tell you about my experience. I wanted to find Carly things that were uniquely Texan but weren't the stereotypical things that people think about Texas. I went to our most awesome local independent bookstore called BookPeople. They have a section for local authors in both the adult part of the bookstore and the YA section of the bookstore which I think is pretty darn cool. They also have an amazing staff that is super helpful and friendly. It has become my favorite bookstore and I have decided to abandon the big box stores and try to exclusively shop independent stores because of them. I wanted to get Carly something from there because it's such a great place (it was named one of the "Bookstores we love for their spirit of Independence" on the Huffington Post recently).

Two stories of books? What could be better?!!

Bosco and Nicole were the associates that helped me find a book to send to Carly! They rocked my socks off!

This is the shelf of local authors. BookPeople has tons of books that are signed by authors that come to the store for events. It's amazingly cool. I ended up buying Carly a signed copy My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson (a local author). This was in the young adult section of the store--Carly reviews YA so I tried to find something that she might like there.

After my trip to BookPeople, I went to a store called Parts and Labour. It's devoted to supporting artisans/designers from Texas. I wasn't sure what I was looking for, but I did find something for Carly here.

Parts and Labour
Source: Shop Across Texas

Photo taken from Parts and Labour Blog
I bought her a clay coaster that featured a photo of the cafe where my Thrill Me! book club meets every month. I thought it was kind of personal since it's a place that I go often. It was kind of a cheesy gift, but hopefully she drinks tasty beverages while reading and it will be useful. 

Whole Foods - An escalator?!! Fancy grocery store!
I also dropped by Whole Foods (the grocery store is headquartered in Austin) and met some local ladies that were marketing their reusable grocery bag business, Blue Avocado. I bought Carly a small grocery bag called a pod. I am pretty sure that she could get these where she lives, but hopefully it's unique enough that she'll be the most stylin' grocery shopper in town. I actually forgot to take a picture of this so hopefully Carly will show it on her guest post. I also picked up a free copy of a satirical newspaper called The Onion which I love!

The last place I went was The Texas Store at the mall near my house. I was trying to find a nice postcard or bookmark from Texas, but I went the ridiculous route and bought her these giant postcards because honestly, I had trouble finding regular sized ones. I guess everything really is bigger in Texas! I also picked up a bookmark that has the Texas state flower on it, the Bluebonnet. They are really abundant all along the highways here in the Spring. President Lyndon B. Johnson's wife, Lady Bird Johnson loved wildflowers and I think was instrumental in promoting wildflower growth in Central Texas (President Johnson is from Johnson City which is fairly close to Austin). 

I had a great time shopping for Carly! I am sorry that this post is so long, but hopefully you've stuck it out to the end with me! I am so excited that Book Read 'Round the World is successful thus far. My hope is that this event will help foster community with bloggers all over the world. I hope everyone is having a good time participating and following this event! I am also planning on having a giveaway and hope to post details within a week or two! I have some neat things to give away!

One Sentence Review
How can I review a book about a country as complicated as China? Well, here is my attempt:

"J. Maarten Troost truly took the journey of a lifetime through a country that would baffle most of us and came out of it a changed man."


CarlyB said...

Yay! And I loved ALL the gifts - and I do drink many tasty beverages :). Getting towards the end of the book now, I love it. MUST send you the pictures you wanted, just poke me if I don't do it soon!xxx

Trish said...

Oh, so wish we lived closer together!

And in case you're wondering...that's me in the second row wearing the white shirt. I'm an Aggie (Whoop!) and that game was by far one of my favorites--the spirit at Kyle was amazing that me chills thinking about it 9 years later. Love me some Kyle field, Aggies, and College Station in general--wish I lived closer.

Don't like Tex-Mex? :P

Leeswammes said...

What a great story of finding goodies for Carly! I think you did really well. I bought one small item so far for when I'm sending off my package. I need to think of some more items!


Carin B. said...

@CarlyB - No worries on the pictures. I just used the few that didn't look too bad and found photos online of the other places. I am so glad you liked the stuff. I have to admit it was kind of hard to find stuff that wasn't overly Texas-y!

@Trish - We don't even get the games on television in Austin because we're stuck in a sea of burnt orange. I think I'm a little older than you are. I left A&M in the year the Bonfire collapse happened. My husband and I went to the first Maroon Out game ever though (I wore a white shirt. 2%er here...LOL). We should get together sometime. We do go to Dallas every so often--my husband is from Plano.

@leeswammes - Sad! You are still having problems with comments. The Name/URL thing didn't work? I may try to find something to switch out my comments. I've noticed a few people use different commenting programs.

Thanks for thinking I did well! I was hoping it wouldn't be a terrible fail! I tried to do all local businesses (even though Whole Foods is a corporation they are headquartered here) because one of the big things in the city is to support locals here (They have a motto called "Keep Austin Weird" for supporting local businesses). I can't wait to see what you come up with. I'm hoping for some Dutch tote bag pictures! :P

Rikki said...

Great round up post, Carin.
I think the shopping bag idea was great. When I go shopping in foreign countries I always bring all plastic bags and shopping bags with me. I even went as far as buying a Nordstrom shopping bag at one of their stores, lol.
You got super gifts. The book shop sounds awesome. Lots of signed copies of books? That is fantastic.

Carin B. said...

@Rikki - Well this shopping back was more girly and didn't have anything that identified it as being from Austin. They are just finally making a bigger push to stop using plastic bags here (I know...we're SO behind the times) and I wanted to support Blue Avocado's efforts since they were a local business.

Oh yes, BookPeople has heaps of signed copies. If you go to their website, you can see what events they have every month (they often have a few signings every month). I've known about BookPeople for a long time, but I just recently started shopping there because I've never lived close to it. I'm just going man up and make the drive down there from now on because I love the store!

Scrabblequeen said...

I'm most likely taking my first "not just the airport" trip to TX later this year...San Antontio for an Air Force graduation...I'll try to keep your suggestions in mind.

Carin B. said...

@Scrabblequeen - That's great! San Antonio is within driving distance of both places, but College Station is much closer. Glen Rose is nearer to Ft. Worth. I recommend either the Inner Space Cavern or Natural Bridge Caverns if you're going to be in San Antonio. Also, try the Snake Farm! It was on Dirty Jobs (if you like that show) and was a neat little place on the side of 35 near New Braunfels. I'd also recommend hitting Fredericksburg and the Nimitz Museum if you are interested in the Pacific War in WWII. Fredericksburg is a really neat little town known for its bed and breakfasts and shopping. That is much closer to San Antonio than Glen Rose. :)

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