The first is The Book of Other People, edited by Zadie Smith. Due out in mid-December, the book is a collection of character studies and short stories by some of the best writers working today. InTheNews.co.uk has the entire list of contributing authors as well as a sample and short review. Although I'm looking forward to new Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers and Andrew O'Hagan, as well as discovering some new good authors, it's the fact that the book focuses on character is what really excites me.
The second, which I really hope to get on CD from the library, is Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin. I've never read an interview with Martin where I wasn't impressed by how intelligent and funny he is, and I'm curious how he got that way. I've been equally impressed with his writing, both the essays and the fiction, and that brings up a very funny alphabet book he's just had publishedThe Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! I'd not recommend it to actually teach the English alphabet, but if you're already confident in your letters, it's a blast to read. (Bonus link, Steve Martin and the illustrator of the alphabet book on NPR a couple weeks ago. Have a listen, have a smile.)