Booksellers, Bat Sh*t & Scary Driveways

Here’s an excerpt of the short acceptance speech for the 2016 Midwest Choice Awards held recently in Minneapolis…


Now I’ve been thinking about bookstores and midsize farms and they have some things in common. For one, I’m thinking when you tell someone that you’re buying a bookstore, you likely get the same reaction we got when starting Locally Laid. I mean, the world isn’t really set up for us anymore. You might as well say you’re investing in a Blockbuster franchise.

Polite folks will lean in and tell you “you’re brave – oh, so so brave,” but we know what that really means. “You’re brave” exactly translates to “you’re cra-zy….BAT. SH*T. CRAZY.

I owe a debt to all of you who’ve taken their lovely storefronts and prominently displayed a book strewn with chicken butts. And furthermore — encouraged your customers to read it. And I know you’re doing this because they send me the sweetest Facebook messages – they say things like:

 “I wasn’t going to get your book, but the woman in the store highly recommended it – and I really liked it. It was so much better written than I thought it would be! …..Smiley emoji”

Somewhere in there is a compliment and I am taking it, damn it.


Bookstore display

But the best compliment I get is when people tell me they learned something. Somewhere between our various poultry pratfalls and real life drama, I’ve tucked in USDA census data, academic research and a bit of relevant history.

Actually when I was writing the book, I remember folding in all these government finding– and I thought…. this is where people are going to glaze over and flip ahead to the next nasty fight I have with my husband on the driveway.

A reader pointed out that in the book, our driveway is like the abandoned shack in a bad horror movie – she said she wanted to shout out “Don’t go out there, Lu! Something TERRIBLE is going to happen!” Every. Single. Time. I hadn’t noticed it, but …she’s right.

And while surely some folks were clearly digging the driveway fallouts, I’m pleased to say some people were grooving on the ag stuff, too.


I was at a signing and a woman stood in front of me with that energy — you know, of someone who had something to say. I put down my pen, looked at her and she said:

“I see things differently now…you see, my parents lost their farm when I was a kid and I just thought it was because they were…like bad at business. But I read the book — about the industrialization and the dismantling of government protection and the commodity treadmill — and now I get it. It was all stacked against them. There wasn’t really anything they could have done and well…I see things differently now.”

I got the feeling she saw herself differently– and let go of some long-harbored shame.

That might be one of the more profound interactions I’ve ever had – and I had it in an independent bookstore. I guarantee you, that’s not available on Amazon Prime.

So perhaps farms and bookstores, as we fight our uphill battles, we might just be what the world needs. We provide people with nourishment and, if we’re really lucky, create some much-needed community while we do it.

So, in closing, I was genuinely surprised to get this award. I want to thank the great folks at Avery/Penguin/Random House for nominating Locally Laid, if you’ve dealt with Louisa my publicist, isn’t she great?

And I truly want to thank YOU for finding room in your hearts for a book that pretends to be about chickens, but really is about life and love and risk and marriage and scary driveways –and a food system we’re capable of making better.

I’m truly humbled – thank you my fellow Batshit Crazies.