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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.

Lev Grossman (The Magician King)

Saturday, June 16, 7 pm, at the Variety Preview Room (582 Market St.)

Tuesday, June 19, 7:30 pm, at Books Inc. Castro (2275 Market St.)

Grossman's (left) trilogy of books about adolescent wizards, which began with The Magicians, has been dubbed "an adult Harry Potter," optioned for film, and continues to climb bestseller lists. The Magician King, the second book in the series, revisits protagonist Quentin Coldwater two years after the events of the first book. Despite ruling the magical world of Fillory in conjunction with his friends, Quentin is bored, and decides to journey with his on-again, off-again love interest Julia to the outer reaches of their kingdom. When the pair risk banishment, they must fight to return home. (The book was released in 2011, but recently appeared for the first time in paperback.) Grossman's Saturday reading is part of the Science Fiction in SF series; a $5-10 suggested donation is requested at the door, and a cash bar will be offered.

Children's Writers and Illustrators Conference

Thursday, June 14-Sunday, June 17, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

If you dream of writing or illustrating your own children's book, consider attending this four-day conference at Book Passage, featuring Gennifer Choldenko (Newbery Honor winner, Al Capone Does My Shirts), Brian McMullen (children's editor for McSweeney's), Annie Barrows (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), Katherine Applegate (Animorphs), and numerous other kids' authors. Admission is $475, and includes meals, parties, and a critique forum. 

Gail Collins (As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda)

Wednesday, June 13, 8 pm, at Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Ave.)

New York Times op-ed writer Collins is appearing at City Arts & Lectures to promote her latest book, which examines how the Lone Star State (despite Rick Perry's 2009 threats of secession) has come to define the Republican party line and influence the American political conversation. She analyzes how Dick Cheney and Karl Rove's media machinations, Rick Perry's championing of the death penalty and environmental deregulation, and of course, former Texas governor George W. Bush's time in office have contributed to the current political tumult. 

Andrew Blackwell (Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places)

Thursday, June 14, 6 pm, at Book Passage SF (1 Ferry Building)

Plenty of writers have expounded on the glories of the world's most beautiful spots, but journalist and filmmaker Andrew Blackwell has taken a different tack in his first book, seeking out such sights as the most polluted city in China, the sand-oil strip mines of Canada, and of course, the titular Russian nuclear-accident site. As he explores some of humanity's worst contributions to the health of the planet, Blackwell makes a surprisingly moving case for loving the Earth as it is (and as we've made it), not as we wish it to be.