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Wisconsin Book Festival 2018 (free)

  • Multiple venues Madison, Wisconsin (map)

Natalie Eibert, a sci-fi panel, and a Richard Davis tribute are among the highlights at the annual literary gathering. Info

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The Wisconsin Book Festival's year-round events series once again culminates during the second week of October for four days of author readings, lectures, and panels. Hosted by the Madison Public Library, the event draws thousands of bibliophiles to events at various locations across the city, all free, to hear local and visiting writers discuss their work and the state of literature as they know it.

The variety contained in the 70-plus offerings is almost staggering: Laura Jeanne Baker's memoir on her addiction to motherhood; Natalie Eibert's poetry and gender studies hybrid Indictus; author, musician, and recent Tone Madison interviewee Dan Kaufman on Wisconsin's descent into right-wing nationalism and its squashing of progressivism in The Fall Of Wisconsin; and novelists Karen Bender and Chris Bachelder on the panel "Making Sense of One Another: Literature and Connection,” considering the ways in which literature increases self-awareness and empathy for the experience of the "other," to name a few.

Not to be missed is Passing the Bass: A Tribute to the great jazz and classical bassist (and now-retired UW-Madison professor) Richard Davis, which will include a performance by Mr. Davis' domestic and international collaborators, and an exhibition of personal memorabilia. Also, while not necessarily a darling of the critics or his literary peers, James Patterson will be in conversation with Steve Paulson from WPR's "To The Best of Our Knowledge," discussing his new YA book Max Einstein and his life as literally the bestselling author in the world. But panels like "Fearless Women in Sci-Fi and Fantasy,” with Mary Robinette Kowal, Mirah Bolender, and K Arsenault Rivera, balance out the presence of that sentient beach-read factory.

The festival offers not only something for (almost) every taste and proclivity, but also the refreshing spectacle of Madisonians gathering in droves to celebrate the enduring power of the written word and artistry, rather than, say, sports, or protesting the latest horrors of the current administration. A full schedule is available on the festival's website. —Katie Hutchinson

Earlier Event: October 10
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda