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Reading Roundup: This Week's Top Literary Events

Each week, we offer a roundup of the best literary events in the city. All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. Want to submit an upcoming event for consideration? Go here.

Alan Kaufman (Drunken Angel)

Wednesday, November 2nd, 7:30 pm, at The Booksmith (1644 Haight St.)

From the outside, Alan Kaufman's life reads as a laundry list of accomplishments: born to a French Holocaust survivor, he grew up in the Bronx and emigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israeli Defense Forces. After returning to the U.S., he settled in SF and became one of the leading voices in the nascent spoken-word movement, then led an influential Jewish avant-garde arts movement. The entire time, however, Kaufman was a serious alcoholic, estranged from his daughter for 20 years; he didn't clean up until he'd reached 40. The follow-up to his acclaimed memoir Jew Boy tells the story of his addiction and recovery.

Mary Roach (Packing for Mars) and Adam Savage (Mythbusters)

Wednesday, November 2, 6 pm, at San Francisco Main Library, Koret Auditorium (100 Larkin St.)

If you've glanced at any billboards lately, you've probably noticed that Packing for Mars, the fourth book by Oakland's acclaimed Mary Roach (above), has been named SF's One City One Book selection for the fall. Like Roach's other writings, Packing for Mars combines hard science and a gentle sense of humor in its discussion of NASA's sometimes wacky attempts to determine how a human could make it to the Red Planet. Adam Savage, half of the Mythbusters team, will interview Roach. Get there early-- seats are limited, and the doors open at 5:45.

Isabel Allende (Island Beneath the Sea)

Wednesday, November 2, 7 pm, at First Unitarian Universalist Church (1187 Franklin St.)

Sunday, November 6, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Allende has authored 18 acclaimed books, from The House of the Spirits to City of the Beasts, but has gained equal fame in her role as an advocate for women's health, safety, and reproductive rights through the Isabel Allende Foundation. On Wednesday, she'll participate in Gwen Mazer's WiseTalk series, speaking on the topic of "What Women Really Want: Their Role in the World Today." Then she'll change gears for a Sunday appearance with mystery author William Gordon (The Chinese Jars). Tickets for the Wednesday event are $20 and are available here; the Sunday event is free.

Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks)

Thursday, November 3, 6-7:30 pm, at Omnivore Books (3885a Cesar Chavez St.)

New York Times Cookbook author Hesser and Cook's Illustrated alum Stubbs drew plenty of media attention after launching Food52, which held weekly contests for the best recipe, narrowed down by Hesser and Stubbs and selected by the readership. Their crowdsourced cookbook is now on the shelves, with the 140 winners of such contests as "Best Street Food Recipe" and "Best Summer Fish Recipe." The book event will also be a potluck-- bring along your favorite Food52 recipe and sample others' contributions.