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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.

John Jeremiah Sullivan (Pulphead)

Wednesday, November 16, 7:30 pm, at The Booksmith (1644 Haight St.)

One of the most talented long-form journalists currently working, Sullivan has earned comparisons to greats like David Foster Wallace, Norman Mailer, and Joan Didion. His first collection of essays encompasses the prosaic (a Christian rock festival in the Ozarks), the pop-cultural (a Real World alumni gathering), and the punishing (the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of the BP oil spill). Alternately funny and sad, and always wise, Sullivan's writing illuminates big topics through small, personal moments.

David Sedaris (Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk)

Wednesday, November 16, 8 pm, at Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium (10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael).

If you're seeking to bolster your sense of humor before the onslaught of the holidays, consider a trip to see David Sedaris read from his animal-themed Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, recently released in paperback. A departure from his popular personal essays, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk features Sedaris' first fictional stories in over 15 years, tinged with his trademark absurd wit. He's one of the most popular authors in the world for live readings, so ticket prices are high, at $39-42. They can be purchased here.

Stephen Breyer (Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View)

Wednesday, November 16, 8 pm, at Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Ave.)

Sitting Supreme Court Justice Breyer has ditched the bench for a conversation at City Arts and Lectures, where he'll discuss his optimistic take on how the Supreme Court and other judges can build stronger relationships with the executive and legislative branches. An SF native, Stanford grad, and pragmatic Constitutional interpreter, Breyer is part of the liberal minority on the Court. Tickets are $17-27, and can be purchased here.

Kay Ryan (The Best of It: New and Selected Poems)

Friday, November 18, 7:30 pm, at The Dominican University of California, Angelico Hall (50 Acacia Ave., San Rafael).

Fresh off her two-year term as U.S. Poet Laureate, Ryan (above) will head to San Rafael to read in a benefit for the Marin County Free Library System. She's known for funny, accessible, and playful poems that address serious subjects without being stuffy. Her recent best-of compilation, appropriately titled The Best of It, took home the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, and she's also received a Guggenheim fellowship and four Pushcart Prizes. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased here.