River Reads

Chippewa Valley Book Festival features fiction, food, and fun

Emily Kinzel

Pulitzer Prize winner Matthew Desmond is among the authors at this year’s Chippewa Valley Book Festival.
Pulitzer Prize winner Matthew Desmond is among the authors at this year’s Chippewa Valley Book Festival. Image: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Hey there bookworms! The 18th Annual Chippewa Valley Book Festival is almost here. Starting Monday, Oct. 16, and running through Thursday Oct. 26, the festival will feature 30 authors and a wide range of activities and events, from dinners with authors to poetry readings to grip-lit! Literary happenings are scattered throughout the month, giving attendees plenty of academic and social opportunities. The festival’s mantra, “There’s something for everyone,” couldn’t ring more true. Fiction, nonfiction, cooking, poetry, politics, thriller, music, and autobiography writers and readers of all shapes and sizes are welcome.

The festival is also providing students with opportunities to engage with 11 authors at age-appropriate workshops and talks, and the opportunity to participate in the Young Writers Showcase. The best part? Most festival events are free!

And to top your literary ice cream off with a cherry, the festival is hosting Matthew Desmond, who won the Pulitzer Prize this year for his New York Times bestseller, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. The book explores America’s housing instability crisis and its entanglement with many other prominent social issues, including poverty, racial injustices, and economic exploitation. Through an extensive amount of research and years of firsthand experience, Desmond centers his work on the city of Milwaukee. His book includes stories from eight families and their struggle with eviction.  Desmond will share his accounts during a forum on Thursday, Oct. 19, at UW-Eau Claire’s Schofield Hall.

For our foodies, Award-winning author J. Ryan Stradal also has New York Times bestseller and American Booksellers Association Indie’s Choice awards under his belt for his novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest. Join fellow readers Monday, Oct. 23 at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, where Stradal will bond with his Wisconsin audience as he talks about growing up in the friendly Midwest and how his experiences influenced his novel. While Kitchens of the Great Midwest may be food-centered, it goes deeper into experiences we all know too well: friendships, loss, and life-defining moments.

And if you could use a few more books on your shelf, come to the Table of Content Book Fair. This event is so extensive, it will be hosted by three businesses  – The Local Store at Volume One, The Oxbow Gallery, and Red’s Mercantile – to make all your literary dreams come true. (Although we all know a book junkie is never satisfied – you can never have too many books!)

The book fair will feature children’s books, a newly released poetry collection by Max Garland, zines, a blackout poetry workshop, and loads more! Red’s Mercantile is featuring Scandinavian-inspired books and Bomb Tacos will be serving food (yeah tacos!) at the Local Store. The event also includes book signings from a plethora of local authors such Julie Bowe, Nickolas Butler, Michael Perry, and Molly Patterson. Book lovers unite at the Table of Content Book Fair 12am-4pm Sunday, Oct. 22.

The fest’s featured authors are a diverse bunch. “This year’s books feature mystery and suspense, emotional family dramas, epic family sagas, short stories, memoir, nature hiking and travel, social justice, essays and articles about Prince in the ’90s, and much more!” said Pam Gardow, one of the festival organizers. “Of course, a major highlight is Nick Butler’s dinner and presentation about The Hearts of Men, an emotional and moving story about the intersecting lives of two very different young men.”

The list of events is long, making it easy for everyone to attend any scheduled event. “The Festival is an entertaining, engaging, mentally and socially stimulating, and just plain fun!”  Gardow summarized.

For a full calendar of events, visit cvbookfest.org.

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