Book Serves as ‘Love Letter’ to Memphis

By Andy Meek

Samantha Crespo has written her first book with a simple goal: to make readers fall in love with Memphis.

Samantha Crespo has written “100 Things to Do in Memphis Before You Die,” a book with the goal of making readers fall in love with Memphis.

A writer for a few years now of products for the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau and, Crespo’s book “100 Things to Do in Memphis Before You Die” is exactly what the title suggests.

It’s a curated list of things to do in the city that includes both obvious choices and lesser-known attractions for tourists and local residents alike.

She directs readers, for example, to tour the Stax Museum of American Soul Music with the sole surviving member of the Memphis Horns, to watch workers at St. Blues Guitar Workshop handcraft their instruments, walk 100 feet above the Mississippi River with a Memphis historian and much more.

“It was so easy to come up with the 100 that I feel like I could easily sit down and write the next 100,” says Crespo, whose book is available at local vendors including The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Burke’s Books, The Cotton Museum, St. Blues, the South Main Book Juggler and Co-Motion Studio in Crosstown.

A list of vendors and events where she’ll appear and sign books in the coming days can be found at her website, with additional vendors coming soon. The book also can be purchased online.

“My goal in creating the list was to not ignore the biggies, especially as this is being used as a resource for people coming from elsewhere,” she said. “So the biggies – Graceland, the Gibson tour, things like that – all need to be in there. I wrote it with the idea of it being a balance, because I also wanted to make sure the obvious was balanced out with the lesser known.

“That’s really just an effect of my personal travel philosophy. When I travel as an individual or with my family, we’re adamant about tasting what’s local and hearing what’s local.”

Crespo was born in Florida and has lived in Memphis for a few years now. Some of the things she most loves about the Bluff City are its galleries and gardens, traveling to area farms and checking out live music.

She wrote “100 Things to Do in Memphis Before You Die” basically in the month of March and filed it April 1, with the goal of getting ahead of the summer travel season, and she’s already gotten orders from as far away as the East Coast and France.

“It’s obviously a travel guide, but I wrote it very much for Memphians, as well,” she said. “Sometimes you move out of the core of the city and you just don’t really engage with the city the way that you used to, or things get busy. So the book is very much for that visitor who’s coming from overseas or another state just as much as it is for locals to help rekindle their love affair with the city or help them rediscover maybe those things they feel like they’ve done ad nauseam.

“The idea is maybe I can help them find a fresh way to look at something or experience something.”

Her personal favorites include landmarks like St. Blues and the Center for Southern Folklore – places where area residents might feel, she says, that they don’t need to visit because they think they may know everything about those places already.

“There are a lot of places like that in Memphis where it’s good to go to and play tourist in your own town,” she says. “Memphis really needs its cheerleaders, and this book is sort of a love letter to the city.”