Some folks complain about long subway commutes, but I consider myself lucky to have built-in time to hear music, read and people watch.

Lately I’ve read a bunch of cool books that all seem to be coming out in the next week or so. Below are several of my faves; most are also available digitally, and several publishers have already posted excerpts on their websites.

In no particular order, these go to 11:

1. The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus. I’ve been enjoying Marcus’ music criticism since my teen years, and his latest book really emphasizes the breadth of his knowledge. The songs he profiles here aren’t super popular, and that’s the point; he argues that something like Shake Some Action is just as essential to the fabric of rock ‘n’ roll as those Beatles or Dylan tracks we’ve heard about so many times before. (Sept. 2)

2. Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory by Lucy Mangan. As you may know, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl‘s classic. This fun book examines the novel, the movies, the candy and everything else that has come along since. (Sept. 9)

3. Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World by Monte Beauchamp. Its hard not to love the concept behind this hardcover comics collection, in which top-notch cartoonists create comic biographies of some of the medium’s biggest names (Edward Gorey, Charles Schulz, R. Crumb, Jack Kirby). My only beef is no women make the cut. (Sept. 2)

4. Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart by Lisa Rogak. This new biography mainly organizes Stewart’s previously published quotes, but it’s pretty well done as these things go, and I appreciate that its tone is light and optimistic, not sleazy. (Sept. 9)

5. The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple. Dalrymple’s art is beautifully grotesque in this book, and I mean that as a compliment. The story involves a world where creepy, mysterious beings kill anyone past puberty, so it’s up to the children to fight for their lives. Don’t read…