New York Times bestselling author visits Meservey

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg speaks at the Meservey Public Library on August 31. CAITLIN WARE|THE PIONEER ENTERPRISE

The Meservey Public Library was packed with patrons that share a love of literature last week when New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg came to visit.

Berg — who has penned 27 books — visited Meservey as part of her “Make Someone Happy” tour, which is the title of one of her most recently published works. Throughout August, she visited libraries across the country to host readings, sign books and visit with fans as part of the tour. Berg’s only stop in Iowa was in Meservey on August 31, and people both from the small town, and those who made a trip from other communities filled the library to enjoy some snacks and an afternoon with Berg.

“I have been an Elizabeth Berg fan for a while,” Library Director Chelsea Price said. “I have been reading them for a very long time. I think I started loving her work in high school. She is able to describe things in a way that you would never have thought of before. She has a way of taking what seems to be very ordinary, and turning them into something extraordinary.”

Price explained that the Meservey Public Library ended up on the tour list after she sent a last-minute email requesting a visit, without any hope that something would come of it.

“You might be asking, ‘Why is this big author in Meservey, Iowa, population 220?’” Price said. “I sent an email at exactly the right time. I saw that she was doing a library tour, and that she wasn’t visiting any libraries in Iowa. I just sent a pretty brief email about our library and Meservey and why I think small town libraries are so important. Five minutes later the phone rang at the library. I picked up the phone, and he was like, ‘This is Bill Young with Elizabeth Berg.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ I almost threw up.”

As part of Berg’s library tour, she requested that in memory of her dog, Homer, who passed away at the age of 14, all visits include hosting a local animal shelter or humane society during the visit. Her trip to Meservey was no exception, and in addition to Berg’s dog Gabby, the library welcomed two other dogs from the Humane Society of North Iowa: Angel and Lexie.

“[I] wanted to honor Homer’s memory and remind people that you can find a really worthy friend at these places,” Berg said.

Sybil Soukup, the executive director for the no-kill Mason City-based shelter, spoke during the event to encourage attendees to be responsible pet owners by spaying and neutering their animals, and also to visit shelters to find their pets.

“Most of the shelters in the United States are not considered no kill, because there simply isn’t enough space,” Soukup said. “We hope that you’ll check out my shelter if you’re in my area, or the shelter in your area.”

Berg spent her afternoon in Meservey reading excerpts from books she has written, including a sneak peek behind the cover of “The Story of Arthur Truluv,” which is set to release in November. One lucky audience member won an advanced copy of the book through a raffle. Berg also read from “Make Someone Happy,” a collection of favorite blog entries and postings.

“We live in difficult times, and I think sometimes we’re psychically exhausted and we’re just looking for something cheerful,” Berg said. “That’s what this book tried to be.”

Berg also spent time signing books and visiting with event attendees, and noted her visit to Meservey only reminded her of how much she loves small towns.

“It’s so beautifully decorated, this is such a comfortable room, I just want to move in,” Berg said of the Meservey Public Library. “It’s a beautiful library, I’m so honored to be here. I’m so gratified. I have a deep love of small towns and a not anymore secret desire to live in one.”