Library in McCandless hosting author of ‘100 Things to Do in Pittsburgh Before You Die’
While countless people made New Year’s resolutions to improve their health, many Pittsburghers also may be focusing on their bucket lists.
Beth Geisler’s book “100 Things to Do in Pittsburgh Before You Die” offers ideas for those lists, and she’ll give a presentation from 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 26 at Northland Public Library in McCandless.
Geisler, 51, chose the University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms — 30 classrooms depicting different cultures — within Oakland’s Cathedral of Learning as her top pick.
“There’s nothing else in the world like them. They are beautiful to see. They tell an interesting story, and they are a tribute to the melting pot of Pittsburgh,” she said.
The lifelong Kennedy resident took German courses in the cathedral’s German classroom, transferring the credits to Texas Lutheran University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She later earned a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
St. Louis-based Reedy Press approached her to write the book based on her experience as VisitPittsburgh’s associate communications director from 2000 to 2004. During her time with the Allegheny County tourism agency, she hosted visiting journalists, among other responsibilities.
The book is part of Reedy’s “100 Things to Do” series, which includes 50 cities, with six more books planned for spring publication, according to Lanna Demers, public relations and media associate. The publisher searches for potential authors, “who know their communities really well,” she said.
Geisler copy-edited nonfiction books mostly related to health and cooking from 2008 to 2015 and currently works as a freelance copywriter and editor.
Reedy asked her to include the following categories to comply with series guidelines: “food and drink,” “music and entertainment,” “recreation and sports,” “culture and history” and “shopping.” She had the freedom to determine the contents.
She found it challenging to narrow her options to 100, and target a diverse audience.
“There are things that are kind of trendy and hip in the book … and then there are the classics,” she said.
Geisler wants her book to appeal to locals and visitors alike. “I think everybody, for example, would know about Mount Washington if they’ve lived in Pittsburgh for any amount of time, the dinosaurs at the history museum,” she said.
“So these kinds of obvious choices are included in the book because people from out-of-town wouldn’t know about them. But then, I also tried to include in the book things that even locals might not be aware of.”
The book mentions many free activities in one of its suggested itineraries. Concerts, hiking and biking trails and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation walking tours are highlights.
“People’s budgets are a bit tighter, so I think it’s interesting to find out what you have hidden in your own city,” said Santina Balestreire, the library’s marketing and communications director.
During Geisler’s Northland visit, she plans to incorporate an interactive element.
“I’m in a unique position where I am talking to Pittsburghers about Pittsburgh,” she said. “Everybody in the room is a subject matter expert — I am not the only one.”
Geisler will have her book available for sale and signing for $17.
“I think books like this are great to encourage people to go out and explore other neighborhoods and explore their city and get to know it a little bit better,” said Rebecca Munoz, adult programming librarian
Geisler maintains a “100 Things to Do in Pittsburgh Before You Die” Facebook page with tips and updates.
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.