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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.

Augusten Burroughs (This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude, and More)

Friday, May 18, 7:30 pm, at Books Inc. Castro (2275 Market St.)

Saturday, May 19, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

As anyone who's read Augusten Burroughs' memoirs knows, the guy's been through a lot: after being left as a young child with his mother's psychiatrist's crazy family (Running with Scissors), he battled alcoholism for years, finally achieving sobriety at the cost of his successful advertising career (Dry). So it's no surprise that Burroughs (left) has decided to take a crack at the self-help genre, using his own wild history to help others "survive the un-survivable." Whether it's weight loss, a drinking problem, finding love, or getting a job, Burroughs' book has the answers, served up with a characteristic dose of black humor. 

Michael Sandel (What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of a Market)

Wednesday, May 16, 7:30 am, at Caleruga Hall, Dominican University of California (50 Acacia Ave., San Rafael). 

Wednesday, May 16, 7 pm, at the JCCSF (3200 California St.)

Is it morally right to pay children to get good grades, collect fees from corporations in exchange for the right to pollute, or sell citizenship to immigrants who have the cash to pay? Political philosopher and Harvard professor Sandel (Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?) investigates our current everything-for-a-price era, examining how we've drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society in almost every aspect of our lives. Sandel's San Rafael event, which includes breakfast and a signed book, is $25; tickets are available here. His JCCSF lecture is $10 for students, $17 for members, and $20 for the general public; tickets are available here

Gideon Lewis-Kraus (A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage For the Restless and the Hopeful)

Thursday, May 17, 7 pm, at Books Inc. Opera Plaza (601 Van Ness Ave.)

After moving to Berlin in his late twenties, journalist Lewis-Kraus found himself feeling a little restless, and decided to take a friend up on a drunken bet to walk the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route across France and Spain. The trip led to two more pilgrimages: a solo walk through 88 Buddhist temples on the Japanese island of Shikoku, and a family sojourn to the tomb of a Hasidic mystic. As he travels, Lewis-Kraus examines how pilgrimage provided a break from the strictures of daily life for the people of the past, and how it can help modern travelers address the sometimes paralyzing amount of choice in our own lives. 

Sunnyside Up: An Evening of No-Holds-Barred Optimism

Friday, May 18, 8 pm, at the Red Vic Movie House (1727 Haight St.)

With spring in the air and flowers in bloom, the Booksmith and the SF Writers' Grotto are teaming up for an evening of looking on the bright side of life. (Even the venue, the long-shuttered Red Vic Movie House, is making a comeback for the evening.) The event is something of a variety show, comedy from Kaspar Hauser; readings from Beth Lisick, Isaac Fitzgerald, Rachel Lehmann-Haupt, and Maw Shein Win; music by Baby & the Luvies and Larry Gallagher; popcorn; interactive audience storytelling; and a pop-up bar. Tickets are $10, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit 826 Valencia.