By Laura Anne Bird

When Chloe Benjamin moved to Madison in August 2010, she wondered if she’d made a mistake. “I arrived during a terrible heat wave. I had no air conditioning, and I was taking three cold showers a day,” she says. “Plus, I was horrified at all the mosquito bites I got.”

A San Francisco native, Benjamin had just graduated from Vassar College and was beginning her creative writing master’s degree at UW–Madison. Benjamin describes the two-year program as wonderfully small and generous in financial aid, but she was most excited about having the legendary Lorrie Moore as a professor and Judith Claire Mitchell as an adviser. “That sealed the deal,” she says.

Chloe Benjamin swiftly got over her distress at being in Madison. “Fast forward a few months and I found myself thrilled to be living here,” she says. She went on to meet her future husband at UW, and they decided to stay for good.

Chloe Benjamin relishes the sense of home they have created. “Madison is small enough to have close relationships and big enough for lots of activities,” she says. She appreciates her “Madison favorites” because they allow her to work hard—and play hard, too:

Favorite view

Lake Monona in winter. “For a California girl who had never walked on a frozen body of water before, it’s magic,” Benjamin says.

Favorite writing spot

Johnson Public House for the coffee, Wisconsin Historical Society​ for the silence, and “my desk at home on lazy afternoons.”

Favorite book source

The Central and Hawthorne branches of Madison Public Library and bookstores A Room of One’s Own and Mystery to Me.​

Favorite restaurants

Sushi Muramoto, Grampa’s Pizzeria, Lombardino’s, Graze, Chocolaterian and Lazy Jane’s.

​Favorite seasonal fun

“Door Creek Orchard for apple picking in fall; going to the farmer’s market in summer; drinking grog at the Weary Traveler in winter; and walking along the Yahara in spring.”

Check out Chloe Benjamin’s fave books in On Her Bookshelf here.

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