The Great American BOOB Tour

Well, if that doesn’t increase traffic on this site, I don’t know what will.

Seriously – on Aug. 17, my fifteenth novel, I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE, will be published. The pre-publication reviews have been good – starred notices in Booklist and Publishers Weekly, an inscrutable-but-benign squib in Kirkus. It is one of Amazon’s top ten books for August and an Indie Next pick. More importantly, some wonderful booksellers throughout the country were kind enough to give the book their personal endorsement.

Yet, for personal reasons, I am making very few public appearances for this book – Bethany Beach, Oxford, MD, Oxford, MS and Baltimore are pretty much it. Hence, the BOOB tour, with Memphis tacked on the very end. Although it looks like I’ll make Los Angeles as well at the end of the month, and I still neeed to figure out a date in my second home, New Orleans, so – BOOB-M-NOLA? Bubbelah? (I also am doing a big event with PEN/Faulkner on Sept. 20th, but that’s not really part of the book tour. I am one of several writers reading original pieces on “Indiscretions.”)

It happens that one of my longtime readers – a word that I prefer to fan, not because there’s anything wrong with being a fan, I just happen to think that being a big reader is even cooler – likes to refer to himself as Bob “One O” Smith and used to ask me to sign his books that way. I stole that line for one of the Tess books; Crow uses it as a pseudonym. But Bob is moving to a smaller place and he can’t keep all his books. Much to my delight, he asked if I wanted his collection of signed Lippmans. I said I would take them if I could give them to someone else. Bob agreed. Want the books? E-mail me the title of the book in which Bob “One O” Smith is cited. Yes, I know it’s hard. Heck, I couldn’t remember which book it was without Bob’s help.

Bob’s generous offer made me think about how I could pay things forward. The paradox in my life is that I speak for a fee, almost always to libraries, and donate that fee to my hometown library. But the fact remains that while some libraries are still doing well, many are not. I would like to show my support for a library that can’t afford to bring in speakers. So here’s the deal: Write an essay about your hometown library and why I should visit. It can be personal – an anecdote about how you learned to write your name in order to get your library card there, or how you curled up on the window seat in the children’s room to read a beloved book on a snowy day. It can be factual, with details about how many people use the library and why it’s central to the community. I’ll pick my favorite essay and will then visit, completely at my own expense, at a mutually agreeable date within the next year.

A few more rules.

  1. The library must be within the continental United States, not because of cost of travel, but because I have only so much time.
  2. No bitching about the outcome! Plus, I’ll send signed copies of my new book to the libraries cited by the top ten runners-up.
  3. You’re on the honor system. If your local library is one of the lucky ones, with a robust speakers series and and/or an endowment, I hope you’ll give the less fortunate libraries a chance.
  4. No flattery. The essay shouldn’t mention me or my work at all. Tell me about your library and its staff, your town. And while I’ll be happy to enjoy a meal while I’m there, don’t worry about enumerating the delicacies on which I might feast. Think: books. Think: community. Think: libraries.
  5. My relatives and friends are prohibited from entering – sorry, Mom! – but their libraries are not. That said, the Enoch Pratt and the Baltimore County library systems are not eligible for this offer.
  6. The essays should be no more than 1,000 words and must be received by Sept. 30, 2010. No essay will appear anywhere without the writer’s express permission. It will not be possible to acknowledge receipt of all the essays. I prefer that the essays be in the body of the e-mail, not sent as attachments.
  7. Send your entry to laura at, along with your name, e-mail address, and city/state of the library you have chosen.

I am a librarian’s daughter, as I’ve mentioned many times. I used both the Baltimore city and county library systems growing up. One of my favorite childhood memories centers on going to the library before a big trip and checking out books for the road. I know the scores of countless Broadway musicals because I could check the albums out of my local library. Years later, I began discovering opera the same way, only via CD. Meanwhile, my shelves are filled with writers I never would have discovered without libraries.

I am who I am today because of libraries. Perhaps you have a similar story to tell. If so, I really want to hear it. And if this works out, I hope to do the same thing for a deserving independent bookstore.