ALTON - Need something to do this summer? Melanie Holmes has you covered.
Holmes’s fifth book, “100 Things to Do in Illinois Before You Die,” is out now and might add some fun new items to your bucket list. The book highlights Holmes’s appreciation for her home state.
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“I really wanted to tell a story — Illinois’s story, as told through a collection of experiences,” Holmes said. “I hoped to produce a book that says, ‘This is us. All of us.’”
Holmes’s book is the latest to join the “100 Things to Do Before You Die” series, a line of guidebooks published by Reedy Press. The company allowed Holmes to make the book her own, with lists and region-specific tips for readers. With these additions, Holmes said there are nearly 200 experiences highlighted in her “bucket list book.”
“My approach to writing this book was to tell Illinois’s story through a collection of experiences. I wanted to find the hotspots of culture, history, geology and especially the fun!” Holmes said. “I’m a lifelong Illinoisan and I happen to love it. The people are warm and hard-working and welcoming in all parts of the state.”
While Holmes has a long bucket list herself, she’ll be sitting out a few of the activities in her book. She has chosen to avoid skydiving, bouldering and whitewater rafting, but she thought of her loved ones who would enjoy these activities and decided to include them in her writing. She also thought about inclusivity, so there are suggestions for disabled individuals and people on the autism spectrum.
This is not the only book by Holmes that highlights Illinois. As a historian, she has also written about gender and culture in the Midwest, as well as a biography of an Illinois man who studied Mount St. Helens. You can see a full list of her work at her website.
Holmes wasn’t planning to write a guidebook, but she discovered Reedy Press’s series and felt an immediate connection to the project. Holmes has spent her life traveling. She credits her mother for instilling this drive in her.
“I share my mother’s words: ‘Go while you feel like it, because someday you won’t feel like it,’” Holmes said. “She is my inspiration for traveling and learning about the world as I go.”
As Holmes wraps up a ten-city book tour throughout the state, including a stop last week in Alton, she’ll spend the rest of her summer at arts and music events. According to the book, she still has 25 things to do before she dies. She looks forward to crossing them off her list.
But more than anything, Holmes views this project as a way to support her home state.
“I believe it’s up to all of us to support each other,” Holmes said. “It’s my way of saying to my fellow Illinoisans, ‘We’re all in this together.’”
“100 Things to Do in Illinois Before You Die” by Melanie Holmes can be purchased here through Reedy Press. You can learn more about this local author and her upcoming projects on her website or Facebook page.
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