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"What Are Americans Voting For": George Lakoff, Robert Reich and other political activists and authors tackle such questions as, Do ideas matter in politics? Is there really an idea gap between the two dominant political parties? Thu., Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m., call for price, www.rockridgeinstitute.org. UC Berkeley, Wheeler Auditorium, Bancroft & Telegraph, 510-642-9988.

Tariq Ali: The author reads from Pirates of the Caribbean. Fri., Oct. 27, 7 p.m., free. Cody's Books/Stockton, 2 Stockton (at Ellis), 773-0444, www.codysbooks.com.

Peter Barnes: The author reads from Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons. Mon., Oct. 30, 7 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Bill Bryson: The author reads from The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kids: A Memoir. Wed., Oct. 25, 7 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Celebration of the Word: This regular event features an open mike for writers hosted by Jeanne Powell. Mondays, 7 p.m., free. Perry's Joint, 1661 Fillmore (at Post), 931-5260.

Kevin Coval: The author reads from Slingshots. Sun., Oct. 29, 5 p.m., free. Cody's Books/Fourth Street, 1730 Fourth St. (at Virginia), Berkeley, 510-559-9500.

Richard Dawkins: The author talks with Roy Eisenhardt about The God Delusion. Mon., Oct. 30, 8 p.m., $19. Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon (at Bay), 567-6642, www.palaceoffinearts.org.

Sergio de la Mora: The author reads from Cinemachismo: Masculinities and Sexuality in Mexican Film. Thu., Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m., free. Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th St.), 282-9246, www.mtbs.com.

Drop-In Writer's Group: Join other writers for a read-and-critique session led by Marnie Webb. Every other Tuesday, 6 p.m., free. Laurel Book Store, 4100 MacArthur (at 38th Ave.), Oakland, 510-531-2073.

Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Book Discussion Group: A book discussion group; open to all. Call for information. Fourth Wednesday of every month, 7:30 p.m., 355-5616. Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Branch Library, 3555 16th St. (at Market), 554-9445.

Family Story Times: Parents and kids aged 2 to 6 are read to at various library branches. Daily, free, www.sfpl.org. Multiple San Francisco locations, multiple addresses within San Francisco.

Carly Fiorina: The author and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard reads from Tough Choices: A Memoir. Fri., Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m., free. Books Inc./Mountain View, 301 Castro Street (at Dana St.), Mountain View, 650-428-1234, 650-428-1234.

Gillian Flynn: The author reads from Sharp Objects. Fri., Oct. 27, 7 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Nell Freudenberger: The author reads from The Dissident. Thu., Oct. 26, 1 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Friday Night Poetry at the Yak: Spoken word, open mike, and acoustic music are the fare at this regular event. Fridays, 7:30 p.m., free. Yakkety Yak Coffeehouse, 679 Sutter (at Taylor), 351-2090.

Elizabeth George: The author reads from What Came Before He Shot Her. Sun., Oct. 29, 7 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Adam Gopnik: The author reads from Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York. Thu., Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m., free. Books Inc./Mountain View, 301 Castro Street (at Dana St.), Mountain View, 650-428-1234, 650-428-1234.

Katy Hutchison: The author reads from Walking After Midnight: One Woman's Journey Through Murder, Justice, and Forgiveness. Fri., Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m., free. Books Inc./Alameda, 1344 Park Street, Alameda, 510-522-2226, www.booksinc.net.

William Kittredge: The author reads from The Willow Field. Wed., Oct. 25, 7 p.m., free. Cody's Books/Fourth Street, 1730 Fourth St. (at Virginia), Berkeley, 510-559-9500.

Larry Rothe & Michael Steinberg: The authors read from For the Love of Music: Listening to the Classics. Sun., Oct. 29, 5 p.m., free. Cody's Books/Stockton, 2 Stockton (at Ellis), 773-0444, www.codysbooks.com.

Annie Leibovitz: The photographer presents A Photographer's Life. Thu., Oct. 26, 7 p.m., free. Cody's Books/Fourth Street, 1730 Fourth St. (at Virginia), Berkeley, 510-559-9500.

Annie Leibovitz: The photographer presents A Photographer's Life. Fri., Oct. 27, 8 p.m., $15-$18. Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California (at Presidio), 292-1200.

Wangari Maathai: The author, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and founder of the Green Belt Movement reads and speaks about her book Unbowed. Mon., Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m., free-$10. First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing (at Dana), Berkeley, 510-848-3696.

Kati Marton: The author reads from The Great Escape. Wed., Oct. 25, 12:30 p.m., free. Stacey's, 581 Market (at Second St.), 421-4687, www.staceys.com.

Catherine McCall: The author reads from Lifeguarding: A Memoir of Secrets, Swimming and the South. Sat., Oct. 28, 1 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Sena Jeter Naslund: The author reads from Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette. Wed., Oct. 25, 1 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Sena Jeter Naslund: The author reads from Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette. Thu., Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m., free. Books Inc./Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness Street (at Golden Gate), 776-1111, www.booksinc.net.

Andrea Nguyen: The chef and author reads from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. Sat., Oct. 28, 7 p.m., free. Cody's Books/Fourth Street, 1730 Fourth St. (at Virginia), Berkeley, 510-559-9500.

Judy Norsigian: The author reads from Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause. Sat., Oct. 28, 4 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Ira Nowinski: The photographer presents Ira Nowinski's San Francisco: Poets, Politics, and Divas. Wed., Oct. 25, 7 p.m., free. City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), 362-8193, www.citylights.com.

One City, One Book Discussion Group: Meet and talk about The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea. Wed., Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m., free. Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th St.), 282-9246, www.mtbs.com.

Open-Mike Fridays: Authors are invited to read from their work at this regular open-mike event. Fridays, 8 p.m., free. Cafe International, 508 Haight (at Fillmore), 552-7390.

Poetry and Pizza: Your donation gives you license to attack an all-you-can-eat buffet of thin-crust New York-style pizza as you dig the work of local bards. Last Friday of every month, 7:30 p.m., $5, www.poetryandpizza.homestead.com. Escape From New York Pizza, 333 Bush Street (at Kearny), 421-0700.

Elisabeth Prueïtt and Chad Robertson: The co-owners of Tartine Bakery and the Bar Tartine in San Francisco talk about Tartine. Sun., Oct. 29, 4 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Queer Open Mic: Queer spoken-word artists and writers read from their work twice monthly at the center's Three Dollar Bill Café. Second and Fourth Friday of every month, 8 p.m., $1-$3. SF LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market (at Octavia), 865-5555.

Retool and Grind: Monthly open mike for musicians, poets, dancers, and others with a yen to command the stage for five minutes at a time. FTMs and those who love them are the staple performers. Last Wednesday of every month, 7 p.m., free. Eros, 2051 Market (at Church), 864-3767, www.erossf.com.

Mary Roach: The author reads from Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Tue., Oct. 31, 7 p.m., free. Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), 863-8688, www.booksmith.com.

San Francisco Literary Walking Tour: A two-hour meander through North Beach and Chinatown to look at the apartment buildings, cafes, bookstores, and bars frequented by famous writers of the past. Meet at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway). Saturdays, noon, $25, 441-0140.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Group Meeting: A meeting for genre writers. Second and Fourth Thursday of every month, 6 p.m., free. Borderlands Books, 866 Valencia (at 20th St.), 824-8203, www.borderlands-books.com.

Hiroko Shimbo: The chef presents The Sushi Experience. Fri., Oct. 27, 7 p.m., free. Cody's Books/Fourth Street, 1730 Fourth St. (at Virginia), Berkeley, 510-559-9500.

Peter Stone: The author reads from Heist: Super Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his Republican Allies, and the Buying of Washington. Tue., Oct. 31, 1 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Tuesday at Pat's Cafe Reading Series: Each weekly formal reading is followed by an open-mike session for fledgling writers. Tuesdays, 7 p.m., free. Pat's Cafe, 2330 Taylor (at Columbus), 905-8837.

Ed Viesturs: The author reads from No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks. Thu., Oct. 26, 7 p.m., free. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960, www.bookpassage.com.

Louise Welsh: The author reads from The Bullet Trick. Sun., Oct. 29, 7 p.m., free. Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), 863-8688, www.booksmith.com.

Simon Winchester: The author reads from A Crack in the Edge of the World. Wed., Oct. 25, 7 p.m., free. Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), 863-8688, www.booksmith.com.

Simon Winchester: The author reads from A Crack in The Edge of the World. Thu., Oct. 26, 12:30 p.m., free. Cody's Books/Stockton, 2 Stockton (at Ellis), 773-0444, www.codysbooks.com.

Word Beat Reading Series: Readings are followed by an open mike hosted by David Gollub, Debra Grace Khattab, and Jeremy Morris Siegel. Occurs on the first and third Thursday of every month. Daily, 7 p.m., free. Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. (at Dwight), Berkeley, 510-549-1128.

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