Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

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.

Anne Elizabeth Moore (Hip Hop Apsara)

Tuesday, September 4, 7 pm, at Books Inc. Opera Plaza (601 Van Ness Ave.)

As Cambodia continues its political and economic recovery, a group of Cambodians gathers every night for a waterfront dance party right in front of the home of prime minister Hun Sen. Dancing to a mix of traditional Apsara music and American-influenced hip hop, the Cambodians who attend the party provide interesting insights into how Cambodia has overcome its dark past and created an emerging middle class. Moore's (above) new book collects her photographs of the dancers, as well as essays on topics like public and private space, memory, and tradition in the face of economic development. 

Robert Hass (What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World

Tuesday, August 28, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Hass has emerged with his first collection of essays since 1984, when his 20th Century Pleasures won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Some of the authors discussed within include Cormac McCarthy, Wallace Stevens, Anton Chekhov, and Korean poet Ko Un, and Hass expands their work into essays on themes like photography and the relationship between literature and religion. 

Louise Penny (The Beautiful Mystery)

Saturday, September 1, 4 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series of mystery novels have been among the genre's most acclaimed, garnering her four Agatha awards and a slew of other prizes. In the series' eighth entry, Quebecois detective Gamache investigates the murder of a choir director at a cloistered monastery deep in the wilderness. Despite the peaceful surroundings, Gamache must identify which of the two dozen holy men has secretly harbored the desire to kill-- and overcome some of his personal demons in the process.

Martin A. Lee (Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana-- Medical, Recreational, and Scientific

Wednesday, August 29, 7:30 pm, at The Booksmith (1644 Haight St.)

We're unofficially declaring 2012 the Year of the Pot Book, as we've seen a slew of ganja-themed entries that range from memoir (Growgirl, Heart of Dankness) to economic investigation (Too High to Fail). The latest from investigative journalist Lee takes a more medical tack, examining the history of prohibition and the potential salutary effects that marijuana and its components can have on patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain.