MONDAY, 8.23: Nod politely in agreement with the other like-minded do-gooders when Jonathan Schell, The Nation‘s peace and disarmament correspondent, reads from his new book at the Half King, the bar where everybody knows your name (if you’re famous). 7:00pm, FREE. Or, indulge your less beatific side as Guru Punk Louise Llandes Levi and friends take over Bluestockings for a resolutely artsy, quite possibly fruity, and absolutely multi-dimensional talk exploring pataphysics, “the surrealist science of imaginary solutions,” as part of the Howl Festival. 7:00pm, donation.
TUESDAY, 8.24: Chances are that everything you’ve read this year is firmly ensconced in the literary canon, so why not loosen up before summer ends and all the fun is over? Declare yourself O.B.S. (“officially beyond satire”) and cruise your Vespa down to SoHo for too-cool-for-school French retailer agnes b’s party celebrating the new “Brown Bunny” coffee-table book. Call the store at (212) 431-4339 for details.
WEDNESDAY, 8.25: There’s something about the comedic reading series How To Kick People. Maybe it’s the way they keep changing the location. Or how, when I get the last seat, in the front row, Todd says he hopes he doesn’t spit on me. Perhaps it’s the consistently exquisite line-up of always amusing, often hilarious writers, and the terrific time I have every time I go. This month’s theme is “Summer Girl.” Says H2KP, “Join us, and fall in love with the scar on her kneecap and the way her skin smells like bug repellent and smoke.” With hosts Todd Levin and Bob Powers, plus Jest contributor Kyria Abrahams, comic Jonathan Corbett, former “Blues Clues” host and current musician Steve Burns, and f-train proprietor and NPR’s “All Things Considered” correspondent Paul Ford. 8:00pm, $7.
THURSDAY, 8.26: Check out Quarterlife Crisis survivor, and first-time director, Zach Braff’s moody, atmospheric paean to the Garden State, a film whose charms can not be overstated. Grown-ups without hang-ups can go beyond Tinkerbell at the Mint Theater’s production of J.M. Barrie’s Echoes of the War. Through 8.29, 7:00pm, $45.
FRIDAY, 8.27: Turn of the Century author and media superbrand Kurt Andersen curated an exhibition documenting the technological events that resulted from the remarkable year of 1848 at the Cooper-Hewitt, digging through the design museum’s vast collection to unearth such gems as “a rare 1848 book of drawings and notes for the punch card-operated Jacquard loom, a precursor of modern computers; an 1840s book for printers, designers, and artists on color theory that presages works of minimalist Pop art from the 1960s; a selection of mid-19th century matchsafes, designed for the newly invented phosphorous match; and a mass-produced three-dimensional printed cardboard “peep show” simulating a glimpse inside the modernistic Crystal Palace, home of the first World’s Fair in 1851.” Stick around for the Afro-Funk stylings of DJ Spinna, on the decks in the garden. Entrance to “Summer Sessions: Design + DJs + Dancing in the Garden” is free with museum admission. 6:00-9:00pm, $10.
SATURDAY, 8:28: Go on a mini-trip to the Dia: Beacon and try to wrest the secrets of legendary sculptor (and author of Saint Sebastian and The Insomnia Drawings) Louise Bourgeois from her darkly organic work. Bard College art history professor Susan Aberth discusses the master arachnophile. Gallery Talks are free with museum admission. 1:00pm, $10. City kids, take note: Housing Works Used Book Cafe is having a 30 percent off sale all weekend.
SUNDAY, 8.29: Take the A train uptown to ultrachic boutique Harlemade for an appearance by author Karen Quinones Miller. Her newest book, Ida B. A Novel, tells the story of one city building’s residents, including that beloved archetype: the back-stabbing, gossipy neighbor. 3:00pm, FREE. [first spotted at stilljohn.com].
The Smart Set appears Mondays and highlights the best of the week to come, with special favor given to New York’s independent booksellers and venues, and low-cost and free events. Please direct your listings, tears and bribes to email@example.com by the Thursday before publication for consideration.