With the riches he'd acquired during the California Gold Rush, Anton Roman set up shop selling books in Shasta. His store — long since bought, sold, burned, and rebuilt — is the original ancestor of what is now Books Inc., an independently owned eleven-store statewide chain whose two East Bay outposts, in Berkeley and Alameda, combine to host the region's most bodacious year-'round calendar of readings, book launches, and other literary events. The bookstores place special emphasis on local authors and on topics and writers beloved by local readers, from radical politics to eco-travel to sustainable haute cuisine. Their calendars include such cult-status eminences as bestselling mystery novelist Elizabeth George, food guru Michael Pollan, and self-help maven Geneen Roth, as well as a glowing lineup of East Bayites. So far this year, these include Anchee Min, Dennis Evanosky, Willis Barnstone, Soe Carter, Liza Dalby, Nina Lesowitz, Gina Welch, and Annie Leonard.
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