Something for Everyone at the 2016 Chippewa Valley Book Festival

Lucie Amundsen will share stories of learning to raise chickens at the 2016 book festival.

Lucie Amundsen will share stories of learning to raise chickens at the 2016 book festival.

By Chris Kondrasuk, CVBF marketing co-chair

Mysteries? Historical fiction? Nonfiction? I like them all, which is why I belong to three book clubs —and why the Chippewa Valley Book Festival is right up my alley. I can hear authors of all kinds of books right here in Eau Claire and the surrounding area. 

From this year's selection of authors, I’ve already read a mystery book (The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens), one whose main character is an early Chinese empress (The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel), one that takes place in the South (Mudbound by Hillary Jordan), and one about the influence of being born to a mother in prison (Prison Baby by Deborah Jiang-Stein).

And that’s just a few of the more than a dozen that will be presenting.

I love the chance to hear the authors talk about their works and what inspires them, and that's what the Chippewa Valley Book Festival is all about. Barbara Massaad will talk about refugees and Syria at a Lebanese-inspired dinner at the Altoona Country Club; Lucie Amundsen will share stories of learning to raise chickens and sell eggs at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library; poets Rita Mae Reese and Ron Wallace will share readings with us. I loved Sandy Tolan’s book The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East, and now he will be here to talk about refugees and his latest book Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land. What a wealth of diversity! I try to attend as many sessions as possible.

In addition to author presentations, there are writing workshops and a panel on publishing. Programs are held around the Chippewa Valley, and everything other than meals and workshops are free to attend. I know that I want to attend the cooking demonstration of recipes from Barbara Massaad’s Soup for Syria which will be held at Forage. I could meet Jack Mitchell, one of the earliest employees of Wisconsin Public Radio, at a lunch at the Chippewa Valley Museum. And I definitely want to try chicken with freekeh, a Lebanese inspired dish, at the Eau Claire Country Club. Lebanese food in Eau Claire? This is a real opportunity! 

At the end of the festival, I’ll still have a pile of books to read, but I know I will already be looking forward to the next year’s authors.

And not to forget the children. There are writing workshops, authors in the schools, and even an opportunity for aspiring authors to read their own stories. I’ve been the host for visiting school authors in past book festivals, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The kids are so excited to meet the author of a favorite book.

If I’ve piqued your interest at all, details are available on our website, The Book Festival will be held from October 10-20, and whether you live in Eau Claire, Bloomer, Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, Altoona, or any place in between, there should be a program that appeals to you.

Start your own pile of must-read books now!