Event Schedule

Splinters

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Splinters
27
Feb
Community Room 301 & 302

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Recovering and The Empathy Exams comes the riveting story of rebuilding a life after the end of a marriage—an exploration of motherhood, art, and new love.
 
Leslie Jamison has become one of our most beloved contemporary voices, a scribe of the real, the true, the complex. She has been compared to Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, acclaimed for her powerful thinking, deep feeling, and electric prose. But while Jamison has never shied away from challenging material—scouring her own psyche and digging into our most unanswerable questions across four books—Splinters enters a new realm.
 
In her first memoir, Jamison turns her unrivaled powers of perception on some of the most intimate relationships of her life: her consuming love for her young daughter, a ruptured marriage once swollen with hope, and the shaping legacy of her own parents’ complicated bond. In examining what it means for a woman to be many things at once—a mother, an artist, a teacher, a lover—Jamison places the magical and the mundane side by side in surprising ways: pumping breastmilk in a shared university office, driving the open highway in the throes of new love, growing a tender second skin of consciousness as she watches her daughter come alive to the world. The result is a work of nonfiction like no other, an almost impossibly deep reckoning with the muchness of life and art, and a book that grieves the departure of one love even as it celebrates the arrival of another.
 
How do we move forward into joy when we are haunted by loss? How do we claim hope alongside the harm we’ve caused? A memoir for which the very term tour de force seems to have been coined, Splinters plumbs these and other pressing questions with writing that is revelatory to the last page. Jamison has delivered a book with the linguistic daring and emotional acuity that made The Empathy Exams and The Recovering instant classics, even as she reaches new depths of understanding, piercing the reader to the core. A master of nonfiction, she evinces once again her ability to “stitch together the intellectual and the emotional with the finesse of a crackerjack surgeon” (NPR).

True North

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True North
28
Feb
Community Room 301 & 302

As the summer of 1993 begins, Sam and Swami Brecht roll into town with a twenty-six-foot Winnebago camper van, their three young kids, and the deed to Woodchuck Rafting Company. 

Sam and Swami met as young, adventurous river guides but, a decade later, find themselves weighed down by money worries and the demands of adulthood. The town of Thunderwater, in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, could be the fresh start their marriage needs. But Woodchuck, once the property of Sam’s eccentric uncle, has seen better days and will need a serious overhaul if it is going to stand a chance at survival.

Soon Sam and Swami learn they are not the only ones looking for change and profit on the river. A competing rafting outfit, clashing raft guides, stubborn townsfolk, and an exploratory mining company begin to threaten their tenuous livelihood. Then nature intervenes, in the form of historic floods throughout the Midwest. Amid tumultuous currents both on and off the river, Sam and Swami find themselves struggling to maintain the new life they’ve built. Before the summer draws to a close, the Brechts must learn to face the floodwaters together in order to create a sustainable future for their family, the town, and the pristine river upon which it all flows.

In conversation with Nickolas Butler.

An Immense World

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Immense World
07
Mar

Presented in partnership with the Aldo Leopold Foundation. 

This is a virtual event only. Register and join on Crowdcast here: https://www.crowdcast.io/c/leopoldweek24

The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electric and magnetic fields. But every kind of animal, including humans, is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving but a tiny sliver of our immense world.

In An Immense World, Ed Yong coaxes us beyond the confines of our own senses, allowing us to perceive the skeins of scent, waves of electromagnetism, and pulses of pressure that surround us. We encounter beetles that are drawn to fires, turtles that can track the Earth’s magnetic fields, fish that fill rivers with electrical messages, and even humans who wield sonar like bats. We discover that a crocodile’s scaly face is as sensitive as a lover’s fingertips, that the eyes of a giant squid evolved to see sparkling whales, that plants thrum with the inaudible songs of courting bugs, and that even simple scallops have complex vision. We learn what bees see in flowers, what songbirds hear in their tunes, and what dogs smell on the street. We listen to stories of pivotal discoveries in the field, while looking ahead at the many mysteries that remain unsolved.

Funny, rigorous, and suffused with the joy of discovery, An Immense World takes us on what Marcel Proust called “the only true voyage...not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes.”

Middle Distance

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Middle Distance
11
Mar

Presented in partnership with A Room of One's Own Bookstore. 

This heartfelt graphic memoir takes us through the highs, lows, twists, and turns of the author’s relationship with running, down the long road toward self-acceptance.

A charming, heartwarming, and poignant story of running and self-acceptance, Mylo Choy’s Middle Distance combines exertion and introspection in an exploration of the physical body’s connection to the human experience. An exciting graphic addition to a growing field, this sports memoir recounts Mylo’s history with running, and how their love for that famously solitary sport pushed them to grow over time.

As Middle Distance grapples with themes of resilience, identity, and self-care, Mylo leads us along the middle way between motion and rest, hurt and healing, fear and joy. The result is an honest, nuanced work of subtle power that will appeal to all runners, especially those who are transgender or nonbinary.

Birding to Change the World

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Birding
12
Mar
Community Room 301 & 302

Presented in partnership with Wild Warner Park.

In this uplifting memoir, a professor and activist shares what birds can teach us about life, social change, and protecting the environment.

Trish O’Kane is an accidental ornithologist. In her nearly two decades writing about justice as an investigative journalist, she'd never paid attention to nature. But then Hurricane Katrina destroyed her New Orleans home, sending her into an emotional tailspin. 

Enter a scrappy cast of feathered characters—first a cardinal, urban parrots, and sparrows, then a catbird, owls, a bittern, and a woodcock—that cheered her up and showed her a new path. Inspired, O’Kane moved to Madison, Wisconsin to pursue an environmental studies PhD. There she became a full-on bird obsessive—logging hours in a stunningly diverse urban park, filling field notebooks with bird doings and dramas, and teaching ornithology to college and middle school kids.

When Warner Park—her daily birdwatching haven—was threatened with development, O’Kane and her neighbors mustered a mighty murmuration of nature-lovers, young and old, to save the birds’ homes. Through their efforts, she learned that once you get outside and look around, you're likely to fall in love with a furred or feathered creature and find a flock of your own.

In Birding to Change the World, O’Kane details the astonishing science of bird life, from migration and parenting to the territorial defense strategies that influenced her own activism. A warm and compelling weave of science and social engagement, this is the story of an improbable band of birdlovers who saved their park. And it is a blueprint for muscular citizenship, powered by joy.

Tough Broad

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Tough Broad
13
Mar
Community Room 301 & 302

Presented in partnership with Wisconsin Public Radio. 

New York Times-Bestselling author Caroline Paul has been an outdoor adventurer her whole life. From mountain biking in the Bolivian Andes to pitching a tent, mid-blizzard on Denali to flying experimental planes, Paul has never been a stranger to the beauty and benefits of outdoor activity. But as she hit her mid-fifties and was often the only woman paddling a surfboard or riding a skateboard, she began to wonder why women, like men, aren’t encouraged to keep adventuring into old age. “Isn’t being outside a vital elixir?” she writes. “Isn’t adventure enlivening, and an important challenge? Why, then, aren’t older women out here with me?”

In her newest book, Tough Broad: From Boogie Boarding to Wing Walking - How Outdoor Adventure Improves Our Lives as We Age, Paul embarks on a quest to understand how not just to live a dynamic life in a changing body in defiance of societal expectations but why we must. Along the way, she uncovers the science and the psychology that shows how outdoor adventure may be the single best solution for a healthy brain, a vital body, a confident mindset, and a longer, happier life, and meets women whose outdoor activities have changed their outlook on growing older, bringing them fulfillment, community and endless joy.

Combining scientific research, cultural studies, medicine, psychology, and memoir, Paul travels the country sharing women’s narratives alongside her own incredible experiences, illustrating how outdoor activity positively affects a person’s spirit, body, brain, and heart. From BASE jumping with 52-year-old Drew Brooks in Yosemite National Park to scuba-diving with 80-year old Louise Wholey, riding BMX bikes with 74-year-old Miss Kittie, the oldest female racer competing in the United States today, to meeting the weekly group of septuagenarian wave catchers who boogie board together in the San Diego surf, these women’s stories offer important insights into our own physical and emotional health as we age, showing that growing older is no reason for women to sell themselves short. 

Purified

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Purified
19
Mar
Community Room 301 & 302

In 2000, a transformative climate-driven “megadrought” swept over the Colorado River watershed. By the early 2020s, levels on the river’s two largest reservoirs were hitting record lows and threatening the water supply for forty million people. Outside the West, water stocks are stressed even in states with bountiful rainfall such as Florida. From coast to coast, conventional measures to sustain the most fundamental natural resource on earth—drinking water—are coming up short. Recycled water could help close that gap.

In Purified: How Recycled Sewage Is Transforming Our Water, veteran journalist Peter Annin shows that wastewater has become a surprising weapon in America’s war against water scarcity. Annin probes deep into the water reuse movement in five water-strapped states—California, Texas, Virginia, Nevada, and Florida. He drinks beer made from purified sewage, visits communities where purified sewage came to the rescue, and examines how one of the nation’s largest wastewater plants hopes to recycle one hundred percent of its wastewater by 2035. At each stop, readers come face to face with the people who are struggling for, and against, recycled water. While the current filtration technology transforms sewage into something akin to distilled water—free of chemicals and safe to drink—water recycling’s challenge isn’t technology. It’s terminology. Concerns about communities being used as “guinea pigs,” sensationalist media coverage, and taglines like “toilet to tap” have repeatedly crippled water recycling efforts. Potable water recycling has become the hottest frontier in the race for expanded water supply options. But can public opinion turn in time to avoid the worst consequences?

Purified’s fast-paced narrative cuts through the fearmongering and misinformation to make the case that recycled water is direly needed in the climate-change era. Water cannot be taken for granted anymore—and that includes sewage.

Be A Revolution

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Revoluntion
02
Apr
Community Room 301 & 302

In Be A Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World —and How You Can Too, offers an eye opening, accessible guide to anti-racist activism. Showcasing the leaders who work every day to create systemic change in America, Oluo gives a voice to specific community leaders, providing space for them to share their stories and offer honest wisdom.

Oluo interviewed over 30 movement workers across the US. Looking at many of our most powerful systems education, media, labor, health, housing, policing, and more—she highlights what people are doing to create change for intersectional racial equity. She illustrates various ways in which people can find entryways into change in these same areas or can bring some of this important work being done elsewhere to where they live. This book is educational and will inspire action and change and it will take our conversations on race and racism out of a place of pure pain and trauma, and into a place of loving action. With an emphasis on intersectionality in all forms of activism, Oluo provides a critical analysis of the systemic institutions that govern society. Oluo stresses the need for abolition, the fight for freedom. The need to look to the root cause of social issues and the belief in collective responsibility for those issues.

Be A Revolution emphasizes the importance of hope, determination, and strength during a time when it has never been more critical. In this inspiring book Oluo shares a vital outline for students and movement makers, shaping conversations around justice and equality. Be A Revolution is both an educational tool and a prominent call to action during a time of turbulence, encouraging readers to engage with their communities and examine how they can start creating positive systemic change.

In conversation with Dr. Sagashus Levingston.

Pre-signed copies of Be A Revolution will be distributed for free to all attendees courtesy of the Wisconsin Book Festival and the Madison Public Library Foundation. There will not be a signing or personalizations.

The Dane County Farmers’ Market Cookbook

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Dane County Cookbook
04
Apr
Community Room 301 & 302

For more than 50 years, the nationally renowned Dane County Farmers’ Market in Madison, Wisconsin, has supported farmers and bakers, inspired award-winning chefs, nurtured home cooks, built community, and attracted hordes of tourists and locals who browse up to 150 stalls surrounding the beautiful Wisconsin Capitol building. It is the largest producers-only farmers market in the nation, featuring growers from all corners of the state. Farm-fresh vegetables and fruit, pastured meats, world-class cheeses, luscious baked goods, maple syrup and honey, foraged nuts and mushrooms, and many more seasonal specialties delight the eye and palate. 

This cookbook is a gorgeous, warm-hearted salute to all who make the market a community. Build your pantry contents and recipe repertoire with everything from purple daikon radishes and harissa paste to bandaged cheddar and black currants. Prepare both contemporary and heritage dishes such as Hungarian Tomato and Pepper Stew, Tacos de Carnitas, Garlic Scape Feta Pesto Salad, and Red Kabocha Squash Soup with Ginger, Lemongrass, and Thai Eggplant. In addition to some 125 recipes that give a global spin to local ingredients, the book includes a history of the DCFM, a foreword by chef Tory Miller of L’Etoile, and many pages of colorful market photographs.

In conversation with Holly De Ruyter, History Producer for PBS Wisconsin.

Lost Children Archive

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Lost Children
15
Apr
Community Room 301 & 302

In Lost Children Archive, an artist couple set out with their two children on a road trip from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. As the family travels west, the bonds between them begin to fray: a fracture is growing between the parents, one the children can almost feel beneath their feet.

Lost Children Archive, an initiative of the Center for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is additionally supported by the UW-Madison Libraries; the Evjue Foundation; the Wisconsin Book Festival; the Anonymous Fund of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and the Departments of American Indian Studies, History, and English and Creative Writing.
 

Lunch For Libraries - Tommy Orange

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Wandering Stars
23
Apr

Presented by BMO Harris Bank, Madison Public Library Foundation's 2024 Lunch for Libraries event will feature Tommy Orange. He will appear live at Monona Terrace to discuss his latest novel, Wandering StarsJoin us for this annual fundraiser on April 23rd at 12:00 p.m. 

The Pulitzer Prize-finalist and author of the breakout bestseller There There, delivers a masterful follow-up to his already classic first novel. Extending his constellation of narratives into the past and future, Tommy Orange traces the legacies of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School through three generations of a family in a story that is by turns shattering and wondrous.

"For the sake of knowing, of understanding, Wandering Stars blew my heart into a thousand pieces and put it all back together again. This is a masterwork that will not be forgotten, a masterwork that will forever be part of you.” —Morgan Talty, bestselling author of Night of the Living Rez

Colorado, 1864. Star, a young survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre, is brought to the Fort Marion Prison Castle, where he is forced to learn English and practice Christianity by Richard Henry Pratt, an evangelical prison guard who will go on to found the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, an institution dedicated to the eradication of Native history, culture, and identity. A generation later, Star’s son, Charles, is sent to the school, where he is brutalized by the man who was once his father’s jailer. Under Pratt’s harsh treatment, Charles clings to moments he shares with a young fellow student, Opal Viola, as the two envision a future away from the institutional violence that follows their bloodlines.

Oakland, 2018. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield is barely holding her family together after the shooting that nearly took the life of her nephew Orvil. From the moment he awakens in his hospital bed, Orvil begins compulsively googling school shootings on YouTube. He also becomes emotionally reliant on the prescription medications meant to ease his physical trauma. His younger brother, Lony, suffering from PTSD, is struggling to make sense of the carnage he witnessed at the shooting by secretly cutting himself and enacting blood rituals that he hopes will connect him to his Cheyenne heritage. Opal is equally adrift, experimenting with Ceremony and peyote, searching for a way to heal her wounded family.

Tommy Orange once again delivers a story that is piercing in its poetry, sorrow, and rage and is a devastating indictment of America’s war on its own people.

Purchase your tickets today for Madison Public Library Foundation’s annual Lunch for Libraries fundraiser! Lunch for Libraries proceeds fuel year-round author programming of the Wisconsin Book Festival, presented by Madison Public Library in partnership with Madison Public Library Foundation. The majority of Lunch for Libraries proceeds go toward the Wisconsin Book Festival’s free, year-round author programming. A portion of Lunch for Libraries proceeds fund Madison Public Library youth literacy efforts. 

Table For Two

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Table
30
Apr

Please note this event will be held at the Orpheum Theater. It's free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is by general admission. Doors open at 6 p.m. 

Pre-signed copies of Table For Two will be distributed for free to all attendees courtesy of the Wisconsin Book Festival and the Madison Public Library Foundation. There will not be a signing or personalizations. 

Millions of Amor Towles fans are in for a treat as he shares some of his shorter fiction: six stories based in New York City and a novella set in Golden Age Hollywood. The New York stories, most of which take place around the year 2000, consider the fateful consequences that can spring from brief encounters and the delicate mechanics of compromise that operate at the heart of modern marriages. The novella includes one of his most beloved characters, the indomitable Evelyn Ross, who left New York City in September 1938 with the intention of returning home to Indiana. But as her train pulls into Chicago, where her parents are waiting, she instead extends her ticket to Los Angeles. Told from seven points of view, the novella describes how Eve crafts a new future for herself—and others—in a noirish tale that takes us through the movie sets, bungalows, and dive bars of Los Angeles. Written with his signature wit, humor, and sophistication, Table for Two is another glittering addition to Towles's canon of stylish and transporting fiction.

In conversation with Christina Clancy. 

Lessons For Surival

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Lessons
08
May
Community Room 301 & 302

In this scrupulous and searching examination of the intersections of social and environmental justice, Raboteau offers her perspective as a mother raising children in the midst of protracted crises and existential threats. In confronting a range of these threats—from the over-policing of Black bodies to the devastation of climate collapse this innovative and provocative book asks how we can cope with the myriad, multiplying dangers that constitute life in the 21st century. How can we protect our children as they begin to grasp the asymmetries of power that shape their worlds? How can we raise them to be good citizens of a country that too often endangers Black life? What does it mean to be deeply local and sensitively global? And the grand container for all these questions: what does it mean to occupy the morally impure position of ‘mother,’ principally responsible for bringing life into a fallen world?

In her quest for answers, Raboteau traces art, politics, history, and nature across her New York City home. Birds both in the air and painted on buildings spark conversations about the interconnectedness of environmental issues; a pond serves as refuge to wildlife but also threatens to flood her home when it swells; the eroding beaches of the Rockaways call to mind an hourglass, reminding her that we are running out of time to prevent the worst climate catastrophes. She seeks ways for her children to safely play in city parks while avoiding pollution, pandemics, and the police. She ventures abroad to learn from indigenous peoples and discovers the most intimate meanings of resilience in her own family and community. She bears witness to the inner life of Black motherhood and to the brutalities and possibilities of cities, while celebrating the beauty and fragility of nature. Along every avenue of this nimble exploration, Raboteau floodlights the systems that perpetuate inequity, and finds alternatives toward a more sustainable future. In its sharp observations and its stories of protection and hope, Lessons for Survival blazes with insight.

In conversation with Erika Meitner. 

Real Americans

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Real Americans
14
May
Community Room 301 & 302

From the award-winning author of Goodbye, Vitamin: How far would you go to shape your own destiny? An exhilarating novel of American identity that spans three generations in one family and asks: What makes us who we are? And how inevitable are our futures?

Real Americans begins on the precipice of Y2K in New York City, when twenty-two-year-old Lily Chen, an unpaid intern at a slick media company, meets Matthew. Matthew is everything Lily is not: easygoing and effortlessly attractive, a native East Coaster, and, most notably, heir to a vast pharmaceutical empire. Lily couldn’t be more different: flat-broke, raised in Tampa, the only child of scientists who fled Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Despite all this, Lily and Matthew fall in love.

In 2021, fifteen-year-old Nick Chen has never felt like he belonged on the isolated Washington island where he lives with his single mother, Lily. He can’t shake the sense she’s hiding something. When Nick sets out to find his biological father, the journey threatens to raise more questions than it provides answers.

In immersive, moving prose, Rachel Khong weaves a profound tale of class and striving, race and visibility, and family and inheritance—a story of trust, forgiveness, and finally coming home.

Exuberant and explosive, Real Americans is a social novel par excellence that asks: Are we destined, or made? And if we are made, who gets to do the making? Can our genetic past be overcome?