We’re headed into a huge fall for book releases. This column runs a bit longer than many of my previous “Can’t Waits,” and that’s with me leaving off names like JK Rowling, Zadie Smith, and Salman Rushdie. It’s a packed September, and the last three months of the year hold the promise of even more big, beautiful books.

Here’s eight of my favorite releases for this month, with authors ranging from Pulitzer winners to little ol’ me.

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9781566893138Read This! edited by Hans Weyandt

Release Date: September 1st
Read it yet? Yes
Why I’m excited: Before I get accused of sock puppeteering or boosterism or anything like that - yes, I contributed to Read This! Handpicked Favorites from America’s Indie Bookstores. And yes, I think it’s awesome.

Sure, there’s a conflict of interest there. Dear reader, I think you’re smart enough to make up your own mind about the book.

Last year, Hans Weyandt began asking booksellers around the country for lists of their favorite books to handsell. The project started online at Mr. Micawber Enters The Internets, and eventually grew into Read This! Along with the checklists of bookseller faves, the book includes interviews with each bookseller, longer pitches for some of the books, boatloads of bookstore trivia, and an introduction from author (and indie bookseller, natch) Ann Patchett. If you’re looking for a reading list dictated by bookish enthusiasm instead of the bestseller lists, buy this book.

This book offers lists of favorites that have flown under the radar, but off of bookstore shelves. First published on Hans Weyandt’s blog for Micawber’s Books, each list includes a bookseller’s top fifty books, anecdotes, and interviews about the life of being a bookseller, reader, and engaged citizen. All proceeds will go to American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE).

Contributing bookstores include Book Passage, Tattered Cover Book Store, Three Lives & Company, Boswell Books, City Lights Bookstore, BookCourt, Harvard Book Store, Carmichael’s Bookstore, Prairie Lights, The King’s English Bookshop, Square Books, Magers & Quinn, Micawber’s Books, Unabridged Bookstore, Regulator Bookshop, Subterranean Books, Faulkner House Books, Skylight Books, Maria’s Bookshop, Inkwood Books, Rakestraw Books, RiverRun Bookstore, Sherman’s Books and Stationary, Iowa Book, and Fireside Books.

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9780810988392Economix by Michael Goodwin and Dan Burr

Release Date: September 1st
Read it yet? Yes
Why I’m excited: The graphic format is often associated with kids, but it’s a fantastic way to communicate complex ideas to people of all ages. Economix puts the often-confounding world of economics (both as a whole and the current state of the US economy) into an easy-to-understand book. It’s fun, it’s clever, and it’s a better primer on the dismal science than most of the ECON one-oh-whatever books in our history, business, and current affairs departments.

If you’d like to see for yourself, Goodwin and Burr have posted a few sample pages on their website.

Stimulus plans: good or bad? Free markets: How free are they? Jobs: Can we afford them? Occupy Wall Street . . . worldwide!

Everybody’s talking about the economy, but how can we, the people, understand what Wall Street or Washington knows—or say they know? Read Economix.

With clear, witty writing and quirky, accessible art, this important and timely graphic novel transforms “the dismal science” of economics into a fun, fact-filled story about human nature and our attempts to make the most of what we’ve got . . . and sometimes what our neighbors have got. Economix explains it all, from the beginning of Western economic thought, to markets free and otherwise, to economic failures, successes, limitations, and future possibilities. It’s the essential, accessible guide to understanding the economy and economic practices. A must-read for every citizen and every voter.

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9780500289945Comics Sketchbooks: The Private Worlds of Today’s Most Creative Talents by Steven Heller

Release Date: September 7th
Read it yet? No
Why I’m excited: No matter the medium - movies, comics, prose, music, whatever - I’m a huge process nerd. I love to see how the art I consume became art, y’know? In Comics Sketchbooks, Heller collects work from over 80 artists and cartoonists with experience all over the industry. Contributors include political cartoonists, artists at Marvel and DC, underground comix creators and even the people behind the Sunday funnies.

The book is organized by artist, with each getting a short bio and then a smattering of sketchbook pages with creator commentary. There’s loads of great art in what’s sure to be an inspiring collection.

From cartoons to graphic novels, from humor to superheroes, comics are the world’s most popular form of illustration. And, as in all forms of illustration, artists and designers experiment with visual ideas, image-and-word play, narrative sequencing, and stylistic flourishes through sketching. What we rarely see is the creative thinking–the doodling–that leads to fully formed visual ideas and stories. Comics Sketchbooks presents the private notebooks of eighty-two of the world’s most inventive, innovative, and successful artists alongside new talents and emerging illustrators. The artists have been selected by the world’s leading critic and most knowledgeable source in the field of graphic design and illustration, Steven Heller, who has had personal access to some of the most private and unseen material. Although there have been several comic-book compilations over the years, none has the visual excitement, insight, and mind-blowing creativity– and fun–of this one.

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9781616282141This is a Cookbook by Max and Eli Sussman

Release Date: September 10th
Read it yet? Yes
Why I’m excited: I’m not terribly well equipped to write about a cookbook. I’m a left-brained guy, and it makes trying to review a cookbook feel like trying to review an instruction manual. A pretty instruction manual, but a manual nonetheless.

What I can tell you is that after only a week, the Sussman’s This is a Cookbook has become a staple in our home. The recipes are easy to understand, they can be cooked in a small kitchen, and the ingredients are mostly staples or easy to find at our local supermarket. As a Weldon Owen cookbook, it’s also characteristically gorgeous. Last night we had friends over for dinner, and we ended up passing around the cookbook like a dirty magazine.

I’ve already made a half-dozen things from the cookbook, and they’re all recipes I’ll be making again. That means it already has a better success rate than a lot of cookbooks I’ve tried.

Weldon Owen has a sampler of some of the recipes in the book. I can’t vouch for all of them (yet), but the Pulled Pork and the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie are definitely winners.

Get into the kitchen. Use what’s in there. And don’t be worried about f’ing it up. James Beard Foundation 2012 Rising Star nominee Max Sussman and his partner in crime, Eli, are over perfection. They care about cooking good food that tastes like you made it. Teaming up with Olive Press, these Brooklyn brothers of Über-hip New York establishments Roberta’s and Mile End have a go-to, hands-dirty method for wannabe-kitchen-badasses.

This is a Cookbook for Real Life features more than 60 killer recipes that demystify the cooking process for at-home chefs, especially young people just starting out. Combining years of elbow grease in the fiery bowels of restaurants, the Sussmans bring readers a plethora of tricks to make life in the kitchen easier and frankly, more fun. This new cookbook also re-creates some of their favorite comfort foods while growing up, as well as some recipes with their origins in brotherly b.s. that wound up tasting delicious.

The Sussmans have got the back of twenty-somethings, who may be too freaked to pick up a cast-iron skillet and instead opt for cop-out take-out as a culinary standby. This is a Cookbook for Real Life is designed to be a go-to kitchen companion with meals fit for one, two, or many, and features plans of attack for dinner shindigs. The best part? All of the book’s recipes have easy-to-find ingredients that limit the prep time fuss and can be prepared in small (read: shoebox) kitchens.

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9781594487361This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

Release Date: September 11th
Read it yet? Yes
Why I’m excited: Talking with folks about Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, it seems that it’s a book people either love or hate. I fall in the former camp - it’s one of my favorite books, a tour de force of storytelling and authorial voice. In this collection of interconnected short stories, Díaz retains the propulsive force of his storytelling. The book moves along at a blistering pace, as though the main character (Yunior) can’t tell you his story fast enough. Like the best romantic stories, This is How You Lose Her is funny and sad, tender and gruff, reckless and contemplative.

It’s a love story about love.

Just like Egan’s miraculous Visit from the Goon Squad, Diaz’s collection manages to tell a story that will appeal to people looking for satisfying short stories and a cohesive longer narrative.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz’s first book, Drown, established him as a major new writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet” (Newsweek). His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was named #1 Fiction Book of the Year” by Time magazine and spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing itself – with more than a million copies in print – as a modern classic. In addition to the Pulitzer, Díaz has won a host of major awards and prizes, including the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the PEN/O. Henry Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Anisfield-Wolf Award. Now Díaz turns his remarkable talent to the haunting, impossible power of love – obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

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9780061493348Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

Release Date: September 11th
Read it yet? Yes
Why I’m excited: There was no way this book wasn’t going to be on this list. Michael Chabon is probably my favorite novelist, so I “Can’t Wait” for anything he writes. His new novel, which follows record store owners and bandmates Archy and Nat, digs into some of the same themes as perennial favorite Kavalier and Clay. There’s a heavy strain of pop culture nostalgia (though comics are traded for music, and the 40s for the early aughts), and the central relationship isn’t about romance, but male friendship. There’s also a strong strain of the indie stalwart versus the big bad chain, which is a welcome narrative for an indie bookseller.

It’s a lot more grounded novel than some of his recent fare; it lacks any magical golems or alternate Alaskan histories. Instead of magic in the story, Chabon relies on the magic of his language. His writing is lyrical and often virtuosic, which is appropriate given the subject matter. Chabon also has a chance to show his sense of humor - I’d say Telegraph Avenue is the funniest book in his oeuvre.

Despite some early critical pans for this book, I think it’s Chabon at the top of his game.

As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there–longtime friends, bandmates, and co-regents of Brokeland Records, a kingdom of used vinyl located in the borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, two semi-legendary midwives who have welcomed more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart–half tavern, half temple–stands Brokeland.

When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fifth-richest black man in America, announces plans to build his latest Dogpile megastore on a nearby stretch of Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear it means certain doom for their vulnerable little enterprise. Meanwhile, Aviva and Gwen also find themselves caught up in a battle for their professional existence, one that tests the limits of their friendship. Adding another layer of complication to the couples’ already tangled lives is the surprise appearance of Titus Joyner, the teenage son Archy has never acknowledged and the love of fifteen-year-old Julius Jaffe’s life.

An intimate epic, a NorCal “Middlemarch” set to the funky beat of classic vinyl soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all its own, “Telegraph Avenue” is the great American novel we’ve been waiting for. Generous, imaginative, funny, moving, thrilling, humane, triumphant, it is Michael Chabon’s most dazzling book yet.

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9780385527200The Oath by Jeffrey Toobin

Release Date: September 18th
Read it yet? No
Why I’m excited: Toobin’s The Nine was an excellent lo0k inside the world of the United States Supreme Court, and I’ve been looking forward to the follow-up for years. The Oath, which covers President Obama’s first four years with the court, isn’t likely to disappoint. It’s a relationship often characterized by the media as liberal Obama butting heads with a conservative court, but the author takes a slightly more contrarian approach. Framing the book with Obama as the Constitutional conservative and Roberts as the radical is an interesting choice, and I don’t doubt that Toobin can pull off.

There is a question as to how current the book will feel - the jacket mentions that the conflict “will crescendo” with a few cases that have already been decided - but it should make for a good historical document either way.

From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama’s inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House has been confrontational. Both men are young, brilliant, charismatic, charming, determined to change the course of the nation—and completely at odds on almost every major constitutional issue. One is radical; one essentially conservative. The surprise is that Obama is the conservative—a believer in incremental change, compromise, and pragmatism over ideology. Roberts—and his allies on the Court—seek to overturn decades of precedent: in short, to undo the ultimate victory FDR achieved in the New Deal.

This ideological war will crescendo during the 2011-2012 term, in which several landmark cases are on the Court’s docket—most crucially, a challenge to Obama’s controversial health-care legislation. With four new justices joining the Court in just five years, including Obama’s appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, this is a dramatically—and historically—different Supreme Court, playing for the highest of stakes.

No one is better positioned to chronicle this dramatic tale than Jeffrey Toobin, whose prize-winning bestseller The Nine laid bare the inner workings and conflicts of the Court in meticulous and entertaining detail. As the nation prepares to vote for President in 2012, the future of the Supreme Court will also be on the ballot.

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9781594204111The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver

Release Date: September 27th
Read it yet? No
Why I’m excited: I wouldn’t typically recommend a book about a topic as dry as statistics and predictions. However, Silver’s writing is reliably great, and he’s be the man who could pen an arresting book on the topic.

The timing of the release is perfect - I can’t imagine a time I’d like to study up on predictions more than the sprint to a presidential election.

Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. The New York Timesnow publishes FiveThirtyEight.com, where Silver is one of the nation’s most influential political forecasters.

Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

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