and year round


About the Festival




The Wisconsin Book Festival, presented by Madison Public Library in partnership with Madison Public Library Foundation, presents free, public author events that celebrate books and spark conversations. Each year, the festival creates a robust schedule of accomplished and new writers whose fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books appeal to all ages of readers. The Festival presents stand-alone events throughout the year with a culminating celebration each fall.


The 2020 Wisconsin Book Festival was understandably different from any previous iteration, but despite moving to fully virtual programming, the festival presented 70 events throughout the year, and the overall attendance average for events actually increased due to the highly accessible virtual format. Another unplanned-for benefit of virtual events is the ability to replay them on YouTube or Crowdcast, allowing thousands of people to watch after the live event. Audience member responses were very positive, with more than 94 percent of survey respondents reporting they were very satisfied or satisfied. 


The festival is committed to presenting events that are free and open to the public. 


The Wisconsin Humanities Council founded the festival in 2001; the library and foundation took over festival leadership in 2013.


Since then, we have hosted more than 900 writers, including:


  • Pushcart Prize recipient Celeste Ng

  • the world’s bestselling author, James Patterson

  • Pulitzer Prize winners David Maraniss, Jane Smiley, and Anthony Doerr

  • Political leader, voting rights activist, and New York Times best-selling author Stacey Abrams

  • Charles Yu, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction for Interior Chinatown

  • Sarah Broom, author of National Book Award-winning memoir The Yellow House

  • acclaimed food writer and cooking expert Mark Bittman

  • two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo

  • Ambassador Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize winner and one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People for 2004 

  • Many UW-Madison graduates, such as 2021 USA Writing Fellow, Danez Smith, and Booker Prize finalist, Brandon Taylor

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