Arts and Culture

28 local books to add to your 2019 reading list

Featuring local authors and other Wisconsin ties

It's not too late to set a New Year's resolution to read more books in 2019. As you dive into this year's reading list, consider adding a few local titles to the lineup. 

Our staff has selected a few Wisconsin-connected books that feature everything from first-person Wisconsin narratives to the harrowing tale of World War II heroes. We think you'll find something you like within the pages of these 12 picks, but if not, peruse our list of 16 more titles that feature local authors and other Wisconsin ties.

Whatever you read this year, we can all agree that quality time with literature you love is a weekend well-booked. 

“The Curiosities” by Susan Gloss
In Susan Gloss’ second novel (on sale Feb. 5, 2019), the author returns to her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, to tell a story about the healing power of art, friendship and community. To keep her mind off of a devastating struggle with infertility, main character Nell Parker starts applying for jobs. Fate leads the art historian to a position as director of an artists’ colony, where Parker finds herself responsible for three eccentric artists. The story is “a celebration of creativity, self and finding your own way,” says Jessica Strawser, author of “Not That I Could Tell.” HarperCollins Publishers, 2019. -AB


“Love Wisconsin” by Megan Monday and Brijetta Hall Waller
Stories matter. That’s why co-founders of Metta Monday, Megan Monday and Brijetta Hall Waller — who were named to Madison Magazine’s 2018 M List — set out to share real-life, first-person stories from the state through the Love Wisconsin project. “The idea was to create a place for personal human stories that showcase the richness and diversity of our state, and share them back with as wide a group as we could gather. The reason? Because we matter to each other," says Monday. The project comes together in a gorgeous coffee table book, "Love Wisconsin: Stories From The Place We Call Home." The book is available locally at A Room of One’s Own and the Wisconsin Historical Society museum. It is also available on Amazon. Love Wisconsin; First edition, 2018. -AB


“The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight Loss Program” by Andy De Santis and Julie Andrews 
Julie Andrews, a registered dietitian, blogger and food/nutrition consultant based in Neenah, co-authors her first book, “The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight Loss Program: Recipes and Workouts to Lower Blood Pressure and Improve Your Health.” Check out 100 recipes, a 28-day meal plan and more in this diet and lifestyle book written by Andrews and Canadian dietitian Andy De Santis. “I feel there is a negative stigma to healthful eating, and I am here to say healthful eating doesn't have to mean sitting down in front of a bowl of plain quinoa and kale,” says Andrews. “Healthful eating is simply eating whole, nutrient-rich foods, cooking for yourself as much as possible and achieving balance with both the foods you eat and your relationship with food.” Andrews is a Madison Magazine contributor and regularly appears on WISC-TV. Andrews has another cookbook in the works focusing on the MIND diet that will publish at the end of April. Rockridge Press, 2018. -AB


“While I Have Your Attention” by John Roach
Madison Magazine columnist John Roach celebrates 25 years of writing with a second compilation of his favorite and most provocative columns from 2003 to 2018 in “While I Have Your Attention.” His first book was “Way Out Here in the Middle,” a compilation of 51 columns that originally appeared in Madison Magazine from 1993 to 2003. “John Roach is as endemic to Wisconsin as Badgers and brats; to Madison as State Street and Vilas Park; and to the Northwoods as lake sunsets and the call of the loon,” writes Brennan Nardi — who edited the book — for a Madison Magazine excerpt.  Little Creek Press. A Division of Kristin Mitchell Design, Inc; First edition, 2018. -AB


“Tommy: My Journey of a Lifetime” by Doug Moe
Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson chose celebrated Madison columnist and author Doug Moe to co-author his autobiography, “Tommy: My Journey of a Lifetime.” After 30-plus hours of interviews, Moe helps Thompson tell his story from his childhood in Elroy, Wisconsin, to his political career on a world stage. Moe, who is a former editor and current columnist and blogger for Madison Magazine, has written several other books, including “The World of Mike Royko” and “Lords of the Ring: The Triumph and Tragedy of College Boxing’s Greatest Team.” University of Wisconsin Press, 2018. -AB


“Madison in the Sixties” by Stu Levitan
Nobody knows Madison like Stu Levitan does. In his latest work, “Madison in the Sixties,” Levitan chronicles the era’s biggest issues in only the way this prolific Madison historian can. (Part of his research included reading every day’s newspapers — three different publications — from the entire decade.) Levitan tells fellow writer Doug Moe that the historical pieces he’s written so far have been in building up to writing about the 1960s — one of Madison’s most exciting and turbulent decades. Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2018. -AB


“Resistance Women” by Jennifer Chiaverini
Not many people know about the only American woman ever to be executed by Hitler's orders. Fewer know that she was born and raised in Wisconsin. New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini sets out to change that with “Resistance Women,” a novel based on the harrowing life of Mildred Fish Harnack and her inside work to fight fascism from Nazi Berlin. This novel (to be released May 28, 2019) compliments the recent installment of an 8 ½-foot tall memorial monument in Middleton's Marshall Park, which reflects Madisonians’ effort to commemorate the incredible woman who gave her life to stand up for her beliefs. William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2019. -CV


“Me, Myself & Ideas” by Carrie Anton and Jessica Nordskog
There was never a cure for writer’s block – until now. Dynamic duo Carrie Anton and Jessica Nordskog guide freelancers, creatives and independent professionals through successful brainstorming sessions in “Me, Myself & Ideas.” As the founders of Wonder: An Idea Studio and former editors of American Girl, these “idea people” know how to lasso that breakthrough revelation you’ve been waiting for. Pre-order the book and receive it after Apr. 30, 2019. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2019. -CV


"Settlin’: Stories of Madison's Early African American Families” by Muriel Simms
Much of the history documented on early African American settlers in Madison was written about only the most influential characters. Lifelong Madison resident Muriel Simms fills in the gaps with “Settlin'” a collection of the oral histories of 25 African Americans who came to Madison in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The stories are “deeply personal and broadly relevant – evoking similarly overlooked tales that could be told in cities around the country,” says Simms. The book is available in both paperback and electronic copies on Amazon. Wisconsin Historical Society Press; First edition, 2018 -CV


“The Overdue Life of Amy Byler” by Kelly Harms
Single moms everywhere can likely relate to Amy Byler’s story. She’s overworked, underappreciated and itching for a break. So when her divorced ex asks for time with the kids, she races off to New York on a vacation filled with love, self-discovery and plot twists. Inspired by her own experience as a single mom on Tinder, Kelly Harms’ novel is “a charming, relatable, and entertaining look at parenthood, divorce, dating and everything in between,” says author of “Slightly South of Simple” Kristy Woodson Harvey. Lake Union Publishing, 2019. -CV


“Paris by the Book” by Liam Callanan
Her husband is gone again. This time he leaves no clues to his whereabouts save for plane tickets to France – a destination de rêve for the family. Liam Callanan’s novel “Paris by the Book” follows Leah and her daughters around Paris as they attempt to solve the mystery of a disappeared father, but is the city really the beloved place the family thought it was? “Here we witness the sacrifices and yearnings of the ones left behind as they continue to love, live and flourish,” says Min Jin Le, author of “Pachinko.” Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House; First edition, 2018. -CV

“Little Faith” by Nickolas Butler
Nickolas Butler, author of “Shotgun Lovesongs” and “The Hearts of Men,” releases a new novel in March 2019 titled “Little Faith,” the cross-generational tale of a Wisconsin family reconvened. What should be a happy time for main character Lyle Hovde turns out to be challenging and divisive when his daughter and her son fall under the influence of a radical church. Butler’s book can be pre-ordered through HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins Publishers, 2019. -CV

15 More Wisconsin-Related Titles

  1. “The Capital Times: A Proudly Radical Newspaper's Century Long Fight for Justice and Peace” by Dave Zweifel and John Nichols 
  2. “Taking Flight: A History of Birds and People in the Heart of America” by Michael Edmonds 
  3. “The Philosopher’s Flight” by Tom Miller 
  4. “Murder Capital: Madison Wisconsin – The Mafia Under Siege” by Gavin Schmitt 
  5. “The Splendor Before the Dark: A Novel of the Emperor Nero” by Margaret George 
  6. “The Confessions of Young Nero” by Margaret George 
  7. “Indictus” by Natalie Eilbert 
  8. “Where Honeybees Thrive” by Heather Swan 
  9. “How to Leave: Quitting the City and Coping with a New Reality” by Erin Clune
  10. “Once a Professor: A Memor of Teaching in Turbulent Times” by Jerry Apps
  11.  “Cold as Thunder” by Jerry Apps 
  12. “The Story of Act 31: How Native History Came to Wisconsin Classrooms” by JP Leary 
  13. “The Kithseeker” by M.K. Wiseman
  14. “A Book Never Read Before” by Adam Groener 
  15. “Be Who You Are” by Jimmy Brandmeier
  16. "Imminent Dawn" by R.R. Campbell


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