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The New York Times-bestselling author of Fat Chance reveals the corporate scheme to sell pleasure, driving the international epidemic of addiction, depression, and chronic disease.

While researching the toxic and addictive properties of sugar for his New York Times bestseller Fat Chance, Robert Lustig made an alarming discovery--our pursuit of happiness is being subverted by a culture of addiction and depression from which we may never recover.

Dopamine is the "reward" neurotransmitter that tells our brains we want more; yet every substance or behavior that releases dopamine in the extreme leads to addiction. Serotonin is the "contentment" neurotransmitter that tells our brains we don't need any more; yet its deficiency leads to depression. Ideally, both are in optimal supply. Yet dopamine evolved to overwhelm serotonin--because our ancestors were more likely to survive if they were constantly motivated--with the result that constant desire can chemically destroy our ability to feel happiness, while sending us down the slippery slope to addiction. In the last forty years, government legislation and subsidies have promoted ever-available temptation (sugar, drugs, social media, porn) combined with constant stress (work, home, money, Internet), with the end result of an unprecedented epidemic of addiction, anxiety, depression, and chronic disease. And with the advent of neuromarketing, corporate America has successfully imprisoned us in an endless loop of desire and consumption from which there is no obvious escape.

With his customary wit and incisiveness, Lustig not only reveals the science that drives these states of mind, he points his finger directly at the corporations that helped create this mess, and the government actors who facilitated it, and he offers solutions we can all use in the pursuit of happiness, even in the face of overwhelming opposition. Always fearless and provocative, Lustig marshals a call to action, with seminal implications for our health, our well-being, and our culture.

Robert H. Lustig, M.D., MSL, is professor of pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and a member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at University of California, San Francisco. He has authored 120 peer-reviewed articles and 70 reviews. He has mentored 30 pediatric endocrine fellows and trained numerous other allied health professionals. He is the former chairman of the Obesity Task Force of the Pediatric Endocrine Society, a member of the Obesity Task Force of the Endocrine Society, and a member of the Pediatric Obesity Devices Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He is also the president of the nonprofit Institute for Responsible Nutrition, dedicated to reversing childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. He consults for several childhood obesity advocacy groups and government agencies.

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November 8

7 PM

Lauren Markham

The Far Away Brothers

Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life

The deeply reported story of identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador's violence to build new lives in California--fighting to survive, to stay, and to belong.

Growing up in rural El Salvador in the wake of the civil war, Ernesto Flores had always had a fascination with the United States, the distant land of skyscrapers and Nikes, while his identical twin, Raul, never felt that northbound tug. But when Ernesto ends up on the wrong side of the region's brutal gangs he is forced to flee the country, and Raul, because he looks just like his brother, follows close behind--away from one danger and toward the great American unknown.

In this urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration, journalist Lauren Markham follows the seventeen-year-old Flores twins as they make their harrowing journey across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities, and from there to their estranged older brother's custody in Oakland, CA. Soon these unaccompanied minors are navigating a new school in a new language, working to pay down their mounting coyote debt, and facing their day in immigration court, while also encountering the triumphs and pitfalls of life as American teenagers--girls, grades, Facebook--with only each other for support. With intimate access and breathtaking range, Markham offers a coming of age tale that is also a nuanced portrait of Central America's child exodus, an investigation of U.S. immigration policy, and an unforgettable testament to the migrant experience.

Lauren Markham is a writer based in Berkeley, California. Her work has appeared in VQR, VICE, Orion, Pacific Standard, Guernica, The New Yorker.com, on This American Life, and elsewhere. Lauren earned her MFA in Fiction Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has been awarded Fellowships from the Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism, the 11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship, the Mesa Refuge, and the Rotary Foundation. For the past decade, she has worked in the fields of refugee resettlement and immigrant education.

Want to know more about Lauren Markham? Visit her website here!

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Saturday

November 11

7 PM

Anne Fadiman

The Wine Lover's Daughter

A Memoir

In The Wine Lover's Daughter, Anne Fadiman examines--with all her characteristic wit and feeling--her relationship with her father, Clifton Fadiman, a renowned literary critic, editor, and radio host whose greatest love was wine.

An appreciation of wine--along with a plummy upper-crust accent, expensive suits, and an encyclopedic knowledge of Western literature--was an essential element of Clifton Fadiman's escape from lower-middle-class Brooklyn to swanky Manhattan. But wine was not just a class-vaulting accessory; it was an object of ardent desire. The Wine Lover's Daughter traces the arc of a man's infatuation from the glass of cheap Graves he drank in Paris in 1927; through the Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1904 he drank to celebrate his eightieth birthday, when he and the bottle were exactly the same age; to the wines that sustained him in his last years, when he was blind but still buoyed, as always, by hedonism.

Wine is the spine of this touching memoir; the life and character of Fadiman's father, along with her relationship with him and her own less ardent relationship with wine, are the flesh. The Wine Lover's Daughter is a poignant exploration of love, ambition, class, family, and the pleasures of the palate by one of our finest essayists.

Anne Fadiman is the author of The Wine Lover's Daughter, a memoir about her father (FSG, 2017). Her first book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (FSG, 1997), won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Salon Book Award. Fadiman has also written two essay collections, At Large and At Small and Ex Libris, and is the editor of Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love (all published by FSG). She is the Francis Writer-in-Residence at Yale.

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Friday

November 17

at 7 PM

Victoria Sweet

Slow Medicine

The Way To Healing

A radical new understanding of how medicine is best practiced, from the award-winning author of God's Hotel 

Over the years that Victoria Sweet has been a physician, "healthcare" has replaced medicine, "providers" look at their laptops more than at their patients, and costs keep soaring, all in the ruthless pursuit of efficiency. Yet the remedy that economists and policy makers continue to miss is also miraculously simple. Good medicine takes more than amazing technology; it takes time--time to respond to bodies as well as data, time to arrive at the right diagnosis and the right treatment.

Sweet knows this because she has learned and lived it over the course of her remarkable career. Here she relates unforgettable stories of the teachers, doctors, nurses, and patients through whom she discovered the practice of Slow Medicine, in which she has been both pioneer and inspiration. Medicine, she helps us to see, is a craft and an art as well as a science. It is relational, personal, even spiritual. To do it well requires a hard-won wisdom that no algorithm can replace--that brings together "fast" and "slow" in a truly effective, efficient, sustainable, and humane way of healing.

Victoria Sweet was a physician at San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital for more than twenty years, an experience she chronicled in God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine. An associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, she is also a prizewinning historian with a Ph.D. in history and social medicine, and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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Saturday, November 18

and 

Sunday, November 19

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