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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.

Jane McGonigal (Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World)

Tuesday, January 31, 8 pm, at Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Ave.)

McGonigal (pictured), who was in our Hot 20 2011, heads up game research and development at the Institute for the Future, which is currently organizing a massively multiplayer online game that addresses issues that will confront the world in 2019. In her new book, she argues that video games can be a positive way for users to collaborate and solve the problems that face the real world. For her City Arts & Lectures appearance, she'll be interviewed by the Academy of Sciences' planetarium director, Ryan Wyatt. Tickets are $22-26, and can be purchased here.

Jennifer Futernick (I Never Expected This Good Life: Poems & Stories)

Wednesday, January 25, 7-9 pm, at CookWithJames (1373 Masonic Ave.)

Futernick's new book marks the resurgence of Capra Press, which once published Henry Miller, Anais Nin, and Raymond Carver, and was recently purchased by locals Philip and Hilary Young Brodey and John and Diana Harrington. Though she believed at 17 she would never be happy, Futernick proved herself wrong, and outlines the belief in gratitude that makes her joy possible. Chef and cooking instructor James Stolich is hosting Futernick's reading at his home, and will provide wine and appetizers. Tickets are $35, and include a signed copy of the book; they can be purchased here.

Victoria Costello (A Lethal Inheritance: A Mother Uncovers the Science Behind Three Generations of Mental Illness)

Tuesday, January 31, 7:30 pm, at The Booksmith (1644 Haight St.)

Local science writer Costello's world was rocked when her son developed schizophrenia, but the parallels to her other family members couldn't be ignored. From a grandfather who died in an "accident" on a railroad track to a heroin-addicted sister and alcoholic father, mental illness was in the roots of Costello's family tree. Her book explores how genes and environment both contribute to mental-health issues, and how parents can cope with both their children's issues and their own.

Julia Flynn Siler (Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, The Sugar Kings, and America's First Imperial Adventure)

Monday, January 30, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

This new history of how Hawaii became an American territory centers on Queen Lili'uokalani, who was born in 1838 and witnessed a complete transformation of her kingdom over the course of her lifetime-- including the loss of her crown. As lucrative sugar plantations (mostly owned by whites) overtook Hawaii, the islands became a prize in the imperialist maneuverings of the U.S., France, and England, kicking off the 20th-century trend of American imperialism. Siler has been hailed for both her sweeping narrative arc and her attention to literary detail.