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.

David Rees (How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening)

Tuesday, April 24, 7 pm, at Books Inc. Berkeley (1760 4th St.)

After retiring his popular political-satire comic, Get Your War On, when President Obama took office, cartoonist David Rees (left) worked a gig for the U.S. Census and became enamored with sharpening the pencils used to fill out his government scantrons. He reinvented himself as an artisanal pencil sharpener, and hundreds of people have paid $12 to have him sharpen a fresh pencil for them. His new book is a tongue-in-cheek look at the craft of pencil sharpening. (Perplexed by this whole paragraph? This short documentary examines Rees' journey as a pencil sharpener.)

Elizabeth Gilbert (At Home on the Range, or, How to Make Friends with Your Stove

Saturday, April 28, 1 pm, at Book Passage SF (1 Ferry Building)

Sunday, April 29, 6:30 pm, at Left Bank Restaurant (507 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur). 

Gilbert, whose Eat, Pray, Love made her a household name, has returned with a cookbook based on the recipes of her great-great-grandmother, Margaret Yardley Potter. A 1920s-era cooking columnist for the Wilmington Star, Potter was ahead of her time in many ways, advocating for farmer's markets and ethnic food, and deriding the use of preservatives. All of Gilbert's proceeds from the book will benefit ScholarMatch and 826 National. The Larkspur event is a $110 dinner that includes a signed copy of the book; tickets are available here

Victoria Sweet (God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine)

Friday, April 27, 7:30 pm, at The Booksmith (1644 Haight St.)

Sunday, April 29, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Sweet has worked as a physician at SF's own Laguna Honda Hospital for over two decades, and her new memoir tells the story of how she came to be a part of Laguna Honda and why the hospital's tradition of "slow medicine" has encouraged her to stay. Her wide-ranging exploration of life at the hospital includes thoughts on particularly unusual medical cases, a history of hospitals that dates to nuns and monks in medieval Europe, and her thoughts on the current debate over health-care reform.

Michael David Lukas (The Oracle of Stamboul)

Wednesday, April 25, 7 pm, at Dominican University of California, Angelico Hall (50 Acacia Ave., San Rafael). 

Oakland native Lukas' first novel, The Oracle of Stamboul, was recently chosen as the 2012 One Book One Marin selection. As part of the festivities, he'll speak alongside KQED's Michael Krasny in a culminating event that will allow readers to ask questions. The novel tells the story of a young girl at the turn of the last century who emigrates to Turkey and befriends the beleaguered Sultan Abdulhamid II, unintentionally changing the course of history. 

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