Fifty authors are on the lineup for the Wisconsin Book Festival’s 20th anniversary fall celebration October 13–16 at Central Library. Their work spans the literary genres, from fiction and nonfiction to poetry and more. 

“We’re delighted to be able to celebrate the 20th anniversary with a return to in-person events during our four-day fall celebration,” said Wisconsin Book Festival Director Conor Moran. “Being in person presents the opportunity for our attendees to ask questions and elevates the rich discussions that the festival prides itself on encouraging.” 

The festival hosted Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author David Maraniss (pictured above, right) on August 16 for a discussion of Path Lit by Lightning, his latest biography about two-time Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe. The event drew more than 400 attendees. 

“Before any of my books come out, I know that one place I most want to go to on tour is the Wisconsin Book Festival at the Madison Public Library, and any author who has been there even once understands why,” Maraniss said. “Year after year for 20 years it brings out the smartest, friendliest book-reading audience in the country.”

Highlights of the fall celebration weekend are listed below. All events will take place at Central Library unless otherwise noted.

Friday, October 14

6 p.m. –  Dr. Steven Thrasher, acclaimed journalist and academic, for The Viral Underclass
7:30 p.m. – International best-selling author Andy Weir for Project Hail Mary
9 p.m. – Leading arts and culture critic Maya Phillips for Nerd

Saturday, October 15

10:30 a.m. World-renowned comic creator Alan Moore for Illuminations, Crowdcast (will be live streamed at Central Library for viewing)
3 p.m. Reese’s Book Club author Thrity Umrigar for Honor
3 p.m. Wisconsin journalist and editor Ruth Conniff for Milked, Wisconsin Historical Society Auditorium
6 p.m. New York Times Editorial Board member Elizabeth Williamson for Sandy Hook
7:30 p.m. Activist and advocate Brenda MyersPowell for Leaving Breezy Street

Sunday, October 16

 1:30 p.m. Cody Keenan, former Director of Speechwriting for President Obama, for Grace, and former White House Photographer Pete Souza for The West Wing and Beyond

Other fall events include: 

  • Lauren Groff for Matrix, Thursday, October 20, 7 p.m.
    • National Book Critics Circle Award winner Clint Smith for How the Word Is Passed (UW-Madison’s Go Big Read selection), Tuesday, November 1, 7 p.m., Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall
    • Celebrated poet and essayist Ross Gay for Inciting Joy, Thursday, November 3, 7 p.m.
    • Pulitzer Prize winner Art Spiegelman for Breakdowns, Tuesday, November 29, 7 p.m., Crowdcast (virtual event)

The Wisconsin Book Festival is presented by Madison Public Library in partnership with Madison Public Library Foundation. For program details and the full schedule, go to Follow the festival on Facebook and Instagram (@wibookfest) or on Twitter (@wibookfestival) for bonus content.

Festival sponsors this year include:

Marvin J. Levy

Madison Arts Commission & National Endowment for the Arts
Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation

Cheryl Rosen Weston Estate

American Girl’s Fund for Children
The Bass Family
Friends of UW-Madison Libraries
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.
MG&E Foundation
Stafford Rosenbaum LLP
University Research Park

The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconson Public Radio