Four Wisconsin Book Festival Author Events We’re Excited About

By Shelby Rowe Moyer | Image courtesy Madison Public Library

The Wisconsin Book Festival takes place Oct. 21-24, and this year offers many exciting author discussions that started in late September, and will continue through mid-November. 

The mix of virtual and in-person discussions with authors started on Sept. 23, with activist and creator of the #metoo movement Tarana Burke who authored “Unbound,” kicking it off. Roughly 37 more authors will follow, with the final event scheduled for Nov. 16. 

The majority of in-person events will fall during the festival on Oct. 23 at Central Library in Madison — with a few others occurring in partnership with the Wisconsin Science Festival on UW-Madison’s campus. 

With so much talent and such a broad range of topics tackled, it’s hard to be excited about just a few of these author events, but we managed to whittle down a few favorites. 

Oct. 12, 7 p.m. (in-person)

“Girlhood” by Melissa Febos

Named a “Most Anticipated Book” by The New York Times and among others, Melissa Febos’s “Girlhood” examines the values we’ve learned as girls, and how these values do not prioritize “personal safety, happiness, or freedom.” The book takes a look at what it means to be female, and how reframing those learned expectations can set oneself free to live life on your terms.

Oct. 21, 5:30 p.m. (virtual)

“A Beginners Guide to America” by Roya Hakakian

An immigrant herself, Roya Hakakian wrote this book as a sort of guide for recent immigrants by sharing the complexity of laying down roots in a new country — from things immigrants love about America to how Americans can be cruel and unwelcoming. 

Oct. 23, 9 p.m. (in-person)

“The Ex-Girlfriend of My Ex-Girlfriend is My Girlfriend” by Maddy Court

A UW-Madison alum, Maddy Court presents this illustrated book with answered advice from anonymous LGBTQ queries on topics like love, dating, coming out, heartbreak and friendship. Some may already know Court — a.k.a. Xena Worrier Princess — from her ’zine (which has the same name as her book). For current fans, you’ll be excited to know that the book features unpublished query letters submitted to Court for her advice column. 

Oct. 24, 11 a.m. (virtual)

“Fuzz” by Mary Roach

Journalist and author Mary Roach is known for her zany, fascinating and often hilarious works tackling scientific, and downright strange, topics — like, what happens to our bodies when we die or what’s some of the weirdest stuff that can happen to a person in space? In her most recent book, Roach examines a series of human-animal encounters and conflicts. Spoiler alert: did you know animals that broke the law used to be tried in court? It’s true — and there’s a lot more hilarity where that comes from. 

Two other books we recommend that were featured in the Wisconsin Book Festival:

“Milk Blood Heat” by Dantiel W. Moniz

A UW-Madison alum and assistant professor, Dantiel Moniz’s “Milk Blood Heat” is her debut novel. The intergenerational stories follow characters as they’re “confronted by extraordinary moments of violent personal reckoning.” This book has garnered a lot of attention and praise. 

“Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness” by Kristen Radtke

The universal experience of loneliness feels even more apt as we continue to ride the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kristen Radtke excavates the “silent epidemic” of loneliness by examining gender, violence, technology and art — as well as how we try to dispel the feeling by connecting with one another. 

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