Now, it’s time for the festival part of the festival.

The Wisconsin Book Festival has finalized details for the four-day festival in October, bringing in a familiar mix of top-notch national and local authors in a variety of genres.

The festival is also starting to settle in with some of the changes that were made when the Madison Public Library took it over from the Wisconsin Humanities Council beginning with the 2013 festival — with events taking place not only during the festival but all year-round.

“We talked with them quite a bit about what the possibilities were, what the history has been, how we saw the transition going,” said festival director Conor Moran. “They were really great with us in telling us what they felt was the essential book festival, what they’d do if they had the chance to do it differently, what they absolutely said we shouldn’t do.”

One thing that has come of it is scaling back the festival. In 2012, there were about 150 events with 200 authors at 32 venues. Now there are approximately 70 events at 22 venues, most of which are Downtown.

“We’ve been figuring out what the spaces are, what the partnerships are that can help us create a festival atmosphere,” Moran said.

The festival has already hosted 27 events this year outside of the festival dates. Moran said the approach has been to see the festival as two entities – a year-long book celebration, as well as a concentrated four-day event.

“People do ask, ‘What’s the deal?’ but this gives us the nimbleness to get things that we can’t get in October,” he said.

One example of that, Moran said, will happen right after the four-day festival ends. Best-selling author Sarah Vowell will be in Madison on Oct. 30 to talk about her most recent entertaining take on history, “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States” at Central Library.

“If we were limited to four days, she just wouldn’t be coming to Madison,” Moran said.

Yet even within the four days of the festival, there’s enough to keep book-lovers happy.

Adam Johnson

  • : The 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winner for his novel “The Orphan Master’s Son” will discuss his latest book, “Fortune Smiles,” a collection of short stories, at Central Library on Oct. 22

Robert Reich

  • : The political commentator and former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration will talk about how to fix the American economic system through his new book, “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not for the Few” (Oct. 24).

Azar Nafisi

  • : The author of “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” will discuss her follow-up, “The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books,” which explores the importance of literature (Oct. 25).

David Maraniss

  • : The Madisonian and Pulitzer Prize winner will be making two appearances. One is to talk about his new book, “Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story” (Oct. 24) and in conversation with Evan Thomas, author of “Being Nixon: A Man Divided” (also Oct. 24).

Mary Norris

  • : Language geeks will revel in the words of the longtime copy editor at the New Yorker. Norris’ book is a manual for some of the many quandaries and curses of our language, such as that vs. which or the much-abused apostrophe (Oct. 24).


  • : For the second year in a row, the book festival is the same weekend as the Wisconsin Science Festival, a partnership that creates unique opportunities, Moran said. Neuroscientist Stuart Firestein will discuss his new book, “Failure: Why Science Is So Successful” on Oct. 22 at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. Eileen Pollack will discuss “The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club” there on Oct. 23.

Local authors

  • : Eau Claire author Nickolas Butler will discuss his new collection of short stories, “Beneath the Bonfire” (Oct. 24). Other local and state authors include Lucy Sanna (“The Cherry Harvest”), Jerry Apps (“Wisconsin Agriculture: A History,” “Whispers and Shadows”) and Jennifer Chiaverini (“Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule”).

Kids and YA

  • : Events aimed at younger readers include an appearance by Madison author and Caldecott medalist Kevin Henkes, whose most recent book is “Waiting” (Oct. 24) and a visit from Maryrose Wood, whose “The Unmapped Sea” is the fifth book in her series, “The Incorrigible Children at Ashton Place”(Oct. 25).

Untold stories

  • : Mai Na M. Lee was the first Hmong to earn a Ph. D. when she finished her studies at UW-Madison and has written a pioneering history of the Hmong people with “Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom: The Quest for Legitimation in French Indochina 1850-1960” (Oct. 25). In addition, Andrew Maraniss will discuss his book about Perry Wallace, the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference, “Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South” (Oct. 25).

Fun stuff

  • : It’s not all science, history and literature. The festival also includes presentations by William Bostwick, author of “The Brewer’s Tale: A History of the World According to Beer” (Oct. 24); Jude Stewart, who will go from seersucker to polka dots in talking about “Patternalia: An Unconventional History of Polka Dots, Stripes, Plaid, Camouflage, & Other Graphic Patterns” (Oct. 24); and New Yorker cartoonist Matthew Diffee, author of “Hand Drawn Jokes for Smart Attractive People.”

“I cannot wait to see the audience for that,” Moran said.