Mikalee Byerman's 100 Things To Do in Reno Before You Die - Reedy Press
Text Oliver X
Photo Jeff Dow
If you were compiling a list of the greatest attractions, places and things to do in the Biggest Little City, what would you include? A few stand-byes come to mind: the Santa Crawl, the Zombie Crawl, the RWMA Wine Walk, eating at Lulou's, the buffet at Sterling's, skiing Mount Rose. But could you compile 100 essential things to do in Reno? Well, now you don't have to because talented writer Mikalee Byerman has done it for you in her new book streeting this month 100 Things To Do in Reno Before You Die.
I caught up with the lovely editor and blogger to find out all about her labor of love and what exciting things made the cut.
Oliver X: I guess the obvious place to start is to ask you what inspired you to write the book? Is the book for locals, for tourists or both?
This is my personal love letter to the place I call home. Sounds totally cheesy, I know — but I’ve lived here for all but four years of my life (I consider myself a grandfathered-in local), and it’s absolutely the only place in the world I would have chosen to raise my family. There are times I want to shout my love of Reno from the rooftops, and other times I’d rather keep it a well-guarded secret. I guess this is one of those times I’m shouting! The book is pretty ideal for tourists, given there are many insider secrets that aren’t readily apparent on Yelp or in other tour books. But the best part is that it’s also great for locals. I can’t even tell you how many of the experiences I chose to include within the book that are things I had never done until writing it! So even I, a “so-called” Reno expert, found myself discovering cool new spots. I think many of us locals get into patterns and rhythms, and this book is a way to challenge ourselves to try things that may be just outside of our personal comfort zones.
Oliver X: So many people have writing a book on their bucket lists. For those who may not be familiar with how a book is constructed, take us through your process and how you chose what to write about. How did you secure a publisher for the book?
This is truly one of those bizarre scenarios when the publisher found me, I didn’t pitch the publisher. Reedy Press, based out of St. Louis, looks for up-and-coming, cool spots for these books — and Reno was on their radar. Thanks to a certain awesome someone over at the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority (ahem—Ben—ahem), I was referred, and the rest is history. I knew this book should reflect my voice but also shouldn’t be only about me and my personal preferences. But I also recognized from the beginning that it would not be easy to cull down the list of 100 “things” without help. So I turned to family, friends, colleagues — pretty much anyone I encountered! I would ask them about their favorite, must-do experiences/destinations when they entertained guests from out of town. Obviously, I had my own pretty complete list before I spoke with anyone else, but I found myself kicking off some of my personal favorites in favor of the additions offered by the masses. I made extensive use of crowdsourcing for the book — again, so it reflected more than just me. I’m super grateful to my peers, Twitter, the Reno Foodies page on Facebook, and everyone who came to me with a suggestion. The recommendations from others made the book so much more diverse and fun. And yes, I did my best to experience for myself practically everything I recommended — though there were a few things I couldn’t do based on the season. Or because I’m chicken shit (Whitney Peak climbing wall, I’m looking at you.)
Oliver X: Was it hard to narrow your scope down to 100 things?
Oh holy HELL it was nearly impossible. Right from the start, I knew this would be the biggest challenge. And ever since I hit “send” on the manuscript, I’ve routinely kicked myself, over and over again, because I “forgot” this place, or another destination opened just a few days after submission, or I just didn’t have room and I really, really should have included this other place. You know how some people have buyer’s remorse? Well, I totally have writer’s remorse. But I figure I’ll just start keeping more lists for that sequel (perhaps called “100 MORE Things to Do in Reno Before You Die”). Or the app. Or the website. Or whatever is next.
Oliver X: Without giving away too much, what was the most delightful thing you discovered about Reno?
I discovered that even after having lived here for 39 years (I totally just gave away my age, for all of your gifted readers), I hadn’t experienced it all. Not even close. My hometown is still surprising, and all of this talk about Reno’s renaissance is actually rooted in reality. But that renaissance isn’t just about the new stuff — it’s about paying homage to our rich and colorful history. I was able to pull from experiences like the very first time I saw that creepy shrunken head at the Wilbur May Museum, which happened in the fourth grade during a field trip in Mrs. Legarza’s class from Elmcrest Elementary School. But at the same time, only a few pages later, I was able to talk about a high-tech, hip new destination like Lex Nightclub. Both are important to Reno, and both are worthy of attention — even though they couldn’t be much more opposite in terms of experience.
Oliver X: Your book release is coming up soon. Talk about that event a bit.
I’ll be having a book signing and launch party at 5 p.m. on March 24 at Rounds Bakery. And as you may have guessed, Rounds is mentioned in the book. If you’re #NotOnADiet, you can probably figure out why.
Facebook: Facebook.com/MikaleeByermanWriterChick or Facebook.com/100ThingsToDoInReno
Website/Blog: mikaleebyerman.com (Disclaimer: May not always be suitable for work. Just sayin'...)
This article is featured in the 2017 March RTT: