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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.

Adam Johnson (The Orphan Master's Son)

Tuesday, January 10, 7:30 pm, at The Booksmith (1644 Haight St.)

SF resident and Stanford professor Johnson is poised to break big with his new novel, an acclaimed and frightening tale of life in ultra-secretive North Korea. With Kim Jong-Il gone and a regime change underway, the timing couldn't be better for Johnson's story of protagonist Jun Do, who starts life in an orphanage work camp, is recruited into kidnapping Japanese citizens, and eventually tries to impersonate a government minister, with dangerous results.

Michael S. Gazzaniga (Who's In Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain)

Wednesday, January 4, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Gazzaniga (above), known as the "father of cognitive neuroscience," is dismayed by the recent trend towards determinism in the study of the brain. His new book argues the important role of free will in our thinking, positing that the "mind" created by our brain ends up constraining its actions, much like cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Readable and unpretentious, Gazzaniga's book brings human interaction back into the neurological conversation.

Tammy Kaehler (Dead Man's Switch)

Sunday, January 8, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Race-car driving isn't necessarily high on most San Franciscans' list of favorite subjects, but Kaehler's debut thriller manages to make the details of professional racing downright fascinating-- and that's before the added layer of murder-mystery intrigue. When protagonist Kate Reilly takes a driving job from a man killed just hours earlier, she becomes a prime suspect in his murder. Reilly must simultaneously search for justice and prepare for an important race, or risk losing her career.

Randy Kasten (Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in a World of Spin)

Saturday, January 7, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

As an attorney, Kasten is more than accustomed to lies and spin, which is why he's decided to offer his knowledge as a guide through the media, politics, and personal interactions. His book details the eight types of lies, how science has been able to detect them, and the rising power of advertising and "spinmasters." It also delves into how to find the truth in a given interaction, and how to avoid self-deception.