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Reading Roundup: This Week's Top Literary Events

Ellen Forney

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.

Bookstores are taking most of this week off for the holiday, but early next week features a handful of standout events. 

Ellen Forney (Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me)

Monday, November 26, 7:30 pm, at the Booksmith (1644 Haight St.)

Forney, an artist and graphic storyteller who collaborated with Sherman Alexie on The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, turns her pen on her own struggles in this new graphic memoir. After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Forney feared that treatment might cost her her creativity and livelihood. Studying the lives of other artists with mental illness, from Georgia O'Keeffe to Vincent van Gogh, Forney explores the cultural trope of the "crazy artist" and tries to determine if it's a myth or a way of life. 

John Perry (The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing)

Tuesday, November 27, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.) 

Stanford philosophy professor Perry's book focuses on a topic we all can relate to: putting things off. Instead of trying to make ourselves more productive, however, he argues that we should use our dawdling as an opportunity to explore why we're putting off the task in the first place, and embrace the creativity that often comes with procrastination. And for those who really have a problem, Perry offers ingenious strategies to break out of the rut. 

Susannah Cahalan (Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness)

Tuesday, November 27, 7 pm, at Books Inc. Opera Plaza (601 Van Ness Ave.)

In 2009, then 24-year-old Cahalan was a recent college grad with a promising career as a cub reporter. One morning, however, she awoke to find herself strapped to a hospital bed, unable to move or speak-- and quickly learned that she had been there for over a month, with no memory at all of what had happened. It turned out she had been plagued by hallucinations, violence, and eventually catatonia, nearing death as a team of doctors worked around the clock to unravel the medical mystery that had suddenly caused her to go mad. Cahalan uses hospital records, surveillance footage, interviews, and her father's diary to piece together the story of what happened to her, and examines the fallout of a life-threatening crisis that she cannot remember. 

James Gustave Speth (America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy)

Monday, November 26, 7-8 pm, at the World Affairs Council (312 Sutter St., Suite 200)

Speth, the former dean of Yale's school of environmental studies, has authored two books examining how current U.S. economic and environmental policies could spell the collapse of the country and its economy. He recently completed his trilogy with a more hopeful tack, exploring how the country and the environment could still recover if sweeping economic changes are given the opportunity to take hold. Tickets are $15 for the general public and $5 for students.