NEW YORK — In case you're wondering which books to read this fall, Michael Moore has a suggestion: Don't read any.

NEW YORK — In case you're wondering which books to read this fall, Michael Moore has a suggestion: Don't read any.

Not the new fiction by Toni Morrison or Philip Roth or Stephen King. Not that policy book by Sen. Barack Obama, whom Moore is supporting for president; or Bob Woodward's latest on the Bush administration; or Thomas Friedman's manifesto on the environment.

Not even a little paperback meant as a handbook to the political campaigns. It's called "Mike's Election Guide 2008" and it's written by a certain Academy Award-winning filmmaker and well known agitator named Michael Moore.

"There really is no time for any frivolity. People are already working two jobs to put gas in the tank, so they can drive from the first job to the second job. People need to spend as much of their free time as possible for candidates," says Moore, who believes that electing progressives will improve the economy, and in the long run, enable people to read more.

"I would rather you go and work for a local candidate then read my book."

A multibillion-dollar industry has been built around such "frivolity" and if Moore is looking for an argument — as he often is — he can begin with the team at Grand Central Publishing that's releasing "Mike's Election Guide." Grand Central publisher Jamie Raab says she agrees with him "on the issues, and on the importance of the election.

"But I don't agree about reading his book. If people are going to vote wisely, they need to understand what's at stake."

Booksellers, including officials at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble Inc., say the releases look surprisingly strong for a time when the public will supposedly be too preoccupied to care. Barnes & Noble fiction buyer Sessalee Hensley says the literary work is as good as any in recent years, while Amazon's senior books editor, Brad Parsons, finds a "nice mix" of fiction and nonfiction.

Some books might even appeal to two people likely to be among the busiest on Earth this fall: Obama, the Democrats' presumptive nominee, and his presumed opponent, Sen. John McCain.

McCain has said he's a fan of John Updike, who will be releasing "The Widows of Eastwick," his sequel to the best-selling "The Witches of Eastwick." Three writers cited favorably by Obama will have novels out: Marilynne Robinson, whose "Home" is a companion to her Pulitzer Prize-winning "Gilead"; Morrison, with "A Mercy," set on a plantation in the 17th century; and Roth, whose "Indignation" takes place on a Midwestern college campus in the 1950s.

Other anticipated titles include Kate Atkinson's "When Will There Be Good News?" — the new literary crime thriller from the author of "Case Histories." Wally Lamb, author of "She's Come Undone," has completed his first novel in a decade, "The Hour I First Believed." Pulitzer Prize winner E. Annie Proulx has a new story collection, "Fine Just the Way It Is." Booksellers also are hopeful about "2666," by the late Chilean author Roberto Balano, whose "Savage Detectives" was a critical and commercial success last year.

"I expect you'll see a lot of editorial excitement from us on that book," Parsons says.

Some fiction fits right into an election year, such as Christopher Buckley's "Supreme Courtship," a satire of the judicial branch, and Curtis Sittenfeld's "American Wife," which fictionalizes first lady Laura Bush. Sittenfeld, author of the best seller "Prep," continues a tradition of novelists imagining the private lives of American leaders, like such recent works as Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler's "Intercourse," a story collection that includes a peek into the bedroom of the current first couple.

"In this world of celebrity, blogs and entertainment gossip television, we are intensely aware of public figures who perform the same function as mythological figures did in an earlier period," Butler says. "It's our own private lives writ large."

"I thought it was absolutely brilliant," Hensley said of Sittenfeld's book. "When I first started to read it, I thought, 'Oh, it was going to be a hatchet job.' But I enjoyed it anyway. I was amazed with what she could do with so few pages at the beginning."

Familiar names such as King, Michael Crichton, Candace Bushnell, Gregory Maguire, Dennis Lehane, Nelson DeMille, David Baldacci and Vince Flynn will be back. Sister Souljah has written a sequel to "The Coldest Winter Ever," which helped kick off the "Urban Lit" phenomenon. Anne Rice has a new book, "Called Out of Darkness," a memoir that details her Christian faith and its influence on her vampire novels.

Publishers did hold some books until after Election Day, such as Patrick Tyler's "World of Trouble," a history of presidents and the Middle East that Farrar, Straus & Giroux will publish in December. Around the same time, Collins will release "My Word is My Bond," a memoir by actor Sir Roger Moore.

"We just felt the media coverage would benefit from a clearer field postelection, and that is looking increasingly true," says Steve Ross, president and publisher of Collins, a HarperCollins division.

Three September releases that won't be overlooked: Obama's "Change We Can Believe In," a policy book and collection of speeches; Woodward's fourth volume about the Bush administration; and Friedman's "Hot, Flat and Crowded," his first since the million-selling "The World Is Flat."

Topical works are scheduled from Moore, Paul Begala and Ann Coulter. Topical thoughts will be transmitted from ancient times through Garry Wills' translation of epigrams by the Roman satirist Martial, including a couplet that reads like an ode to campaign fundraising: "I did not ask wealth for my own/It was just to make my rival groan."

Scholastic Inc., the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter books, starts a new series this fall, "The 39 Clues," 10 planned novels by 10 different authors, packaged with multimedia games, contests and trading cards, enhanced by a movie deal with Steven Spielberg. A well-established franchise, Christopher Paolini's "Inheritance" fantasy series continues with "Brisingr."

Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial is not until February, but fall offers a warmup for the deluge: John Stauffer's "Giants: The Parallel Lives of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass"; Harold Holzer's "Lincoln President-Elect" and "Tried by War," by James M. McPherson, a Pulitzer Prize winner and leading Civil War historian who thinks, despite thousands of books about the president, that Lincoln's war leadership deserves more attention.

"His functions as commander in chief have been undertreated compared to many other aspects of his life and career," says McPherson, winner of the Pulitzer for "The Battle Cry of Freedom," widely regarded as the best one-volume history of the Civil War.

Alice Schroeder's "The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life" is an authorized biography of the billionaire investor. David Hackett Fisher, winner of the Pulitzer for "Washington's Crossing," has written "Champlain's Dream," about the founding of Quebec. Malcolm Gladwell of "Blink" and "The Tipping Point" fame ponders the mystery of success in "Outliers."

The Library of America will honor poet John Ashbery with a volume of his early work, a rare tribute to a living artist. The letters between Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, celebrated poets and equally intense correspondents, have been compiled. Poet Jay Parini has written "The Promised Land: 13 Books That Changed America," including essays about "On the Road," "The Feminine Mystique" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

A ritual for any season: celebrities telling all. Ted Turner gets personal in "Call Me Ted," Alec Baldwin sounds off on parenthood and divorce in "A Promise to Ourselves," Prince takes you on stage for "21 Nights" and Maureen McCormick adds to the mini-mountain of "Brady Bunch" literature with "Here's the Story." Memoirs also are coming from Eminem, Tony Curtis and Bill O'Reilly, who calls his book "A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity," a title that Barnes & Noble buyer Edward Ash-Milby declined to comment on, saying, "I'd rather keep it PG here."

Don Rickles, 82 and fresher than ever, is working on a book of letters that should be out in November. They're not real, just messages he's made up for departed friends (Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson), living friends (Bob Newhart) and some he's never met, such as Lincoln and George Washington.

"I call myself the Jewish Mark Twain," says Rickles, who acknowledges he'd rather publish a book than read one, just the kind of man who might take up Michael Moore on his offer to keep his night stand clear.

"I had trouble with English class in high school. Thank God there was World War II or I might still be there. That should give you an idea of my reading background."