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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.

Andrew Solomon (Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity)

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

Thursday, November 29, 7:30 pm, at the Hillside Club (2286 Cedar St., Berkeley).

Solomon's National Book Award-winning The Noonday Demon shed new light on clinical depression and its sufferers, and in his latest work, he delves into another taboo topic: parents coping with children who were not what they expected. Culled from 14,000 pages of interviews, Far from the Tree examines the home lives of children who are mentally and physically disabled, transgender, deaf, schizophrenic, conceived via rape, and more, focusing on the bonds that unite parents with their children and other, similarly afflicted parents, often driving them to action and advocacy. Tickets to Solomon's Hillside Club appearance are $12 for general admission and $7 for members and students. 

Kim Severson and Julia Moskin (CookFight: Two Cooks, 12 Challenges, 125 Recipes-- An Epic Battle for Kitchen Domination)

Thursday, November 29, 6:30 pm, at Left Bank Restaurant (507 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur).

Friday, November 30, 6-7 pm, at Omnivore Books (3885a Cesar Chavez St.)

In 2009 Severson and Moskin, both longtime writers for the New York Times food section, went head-to-head in a challenge issued by the paper's then-restaurant critic, Frank Bruni, to craft a 6-person dinner party on a budget of $50 (with the winner chosen by Bruni). This initial battle royale of the recipe-writers led to eleven more challenges, including devising dishes that would please both kids and adults at a party and cooking a meal exclusively from local farmer's market ingredients. The two women, best friends from wildly divergent backgrounds, tackle their challenges in different ways, but ultimately come out with winning recipes on each side. The event in Larkspur is a dinner featuring the two chefs; tickets are $150 and include wine, tax, tip, and a copy of the book. 

Tom Reiss (The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo)

Monday, December 3, 12:30 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Tuesday, December 4, 7 pm, at Books Inc. Berkeley (1760 4th St.)

Reiss follows up his bestselling The Orientalist with a new biography of Alex Dumas, the mixed-race father of legendary French writer Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers). The elder Dumas' real adventures bear intriguing similarities to his son's fiction; the son of a black slave in Haiti, he became a swashbuckling Parisian swordsman who eventually commanded armies during the French Revolution. Reiss put six years into the book, inspecting prison cells and even cracking a locked safe to get the story of the unlikely hero. 

Jon Meacham (Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power)

Thursday, November 29, 6 pm, at the Commonwealth Club (595 Market St., 2nd Floor). 

Friday, November 30, 12 pm, at Rakestraw Books (522 Hartz Avenue, Danville).

Friday, November 30, 7 pm, at Dominican University of California, Angelico Hall, San Rafael. 

Meacham, the former editor of Newsweek and a Pulitzer Prize winner for his Andrew Jackson biography, American Lion, returns with the tale of another President. Focusing on Jefferson's philosophical bent and intellectual interests, Meacham presents colonial America as the third President saw it, and examines his noble (Founding Father, founder of the University of Virginia) and not-so-noble (slaveholding, sleeping around) traits. Tickets to Meacham's Commonwealth Club appearance are $20 for regular admission, $14 for members, $7 for students, and $40 for priority seating and a copy of the book. Admission to his Danville appearance is $10 at the door; his San Rafael appearance is open to the public, but those who purchase his book from Book Passage will receive priority seating.