If Wisconsin seemed overrun with more literati than football fans the first two weeks in October, it was for good reason: the sixth annual Wisconsin Book Festival took place at a variety of locations in the Badger State's two largest cities October 2—14. This year's celebration of literature drew more than 15,000 attendees for readings, panels, workshops and film screenings, held at a variety of local venues ranging from bookstores to community centers in Milwaukee and Madison.
This year’s festival kicked off in Milwaukee October 2 with Garrison Keillor reading from his new release, Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon. Over the next 10 days, book lovers attended 15 events featuring 33 regional and national authors at a dozen spots throughout the Milwaukee metropolitan area, before the festival moved to Madison. Over the next four days, more than 100 events featuring 187 authors took place at 35 venues in Madison's downtown area and on the adjacent UW-Madison campus. The festival concluded its 12-day run in October 14 with two concurrent readings: Michael Cunningham (The Hours) at the historic Orpheum Theatre, and A.J. Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically) just across State Street at the new Overture Center for the Arts.
The Wisconsin Book Festival, which was launched by the Wisconsin Humanities Council, (still the event's primary organizers) as a three-day celebration in Madison in 2002, featured author events in Milwaukee for the first time last year. “It's not just to highlight great literature, but to bring people together to talk,” said. Alison Jones Chaim, the Wisconsin Book Festival's director for the past five years. “I'd love to see the entire month of October as 'Book Month' throughout Wisconsin, with events going on in communities all over the state.”