Returning students aren’t the only ones facing a daunting reading list at this time of year. As we’ve previewed in these pages the past few weeks, local presses and some big literary names are introducing books that demand a closer look.

As I assembled the books I intend to tackle before October’s Wisconsin Book Festival, I was struck by the range of subjects and talents the diverse group of authors presents. One book that stands out is a departure for a man who is most known for chronicling the culture of the Midwest.

Michael Perry’s latest, “The Scavengers,” is his first foray into young adult fiction. His book stars a teen girl living in a dystopian future who dubs herself Ford Falcon and scavenges for goods to barter in an old junk heap. Perry is headlining the upcoming Southwest Wisconsin Book Festival in Mineral Point. On Saturday, the event titled “Michael Perry Runs His Yapper” starts at 7 p.m. at the Mineral Point Opera House, 139 High St. in Mineral Point.

Prior to the main event, workshops on many aspects of writing and publishing run during the day at the Mineral Point Public Library and the Opera House. Most events are $20, and registration is required. Visit for more information.

Poet headlines
open mic event

In other book festival news, the annual Edgerton Sterling North Book and Film Festival is hosting a poetry reading Friday featuring Amaud Jamaul Johnson. Johnson teaches in the creative writing MFA program at UW-Madison.

The event, “Voice: Over,” features an open mic and begins at 7 p.m. at the Masonic Temple, 213 W. Fulton St., Edgerton. Tickets are $5. Visit to learn more about this event, and about the ninth annual festival set for Sept. 27.

‘You’re Not You’ gets release date

Madison author Michelle Wildgen will finally see her book “You’re Not You” on the big screen in October. The movie, starring Hilary Swank as a pianist suffering from ALS, will be released Oct. 10.

Wildgen, author of 2014’s “Bread and Butter,” is also a founder of the Madison Writers’ Studio. She chatted with State Journal readers earlier this year, in which she talked about visiting the set of the movie and meeting star Emmy Rossum. Wildgen and her husband, Steve, spent some time on the set as extras, she said, “standing — with great presence, I thought — silently near a gift table.”

Watch for Wildgen in the background when the movie is released next month, and in the meantime, check out the trailer at Entertainment Weekly at

Blum honored by UW-Whitewater

Noted science writer Deborah Blum is the recipient of the 2014 UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Regional Literary Award.

Blum, best known for her books “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” and “Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection,” has been part of UW-Madison’s faculty since 1997. She recently announced that this will be her last year in Wisconsin; next year she’ll take over a prestigious program for science journalists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A reading and signing event on Oct. 27 will offer Blum an opportunity to tell readers the secrets for her scientific success. According to a press release, Blum has simple and important advice for new writers.

“Write,” she said. “Start right now. Being a writer today, in this digital age, is really exciting. There are so many platforms where you can start looking for homes for your work and drawing attention to your work.”

Her second piece of advice: Read.

“We all become better writers when we read good writing and can hear the music of language, and can read and appreciate and listen and can learn from the way that gifted writers turn words into poetry,” she said. “The more you do that, the better you get.”