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10 Best Beatles Books

Dishy tell-alls, fact-crammed studio logs and more essential Fab Four literature

English musician George Harrison of the Beatles at the Apple Corps Headquarters, London, September 1968.

Baron Wolman/Iconic Images/Getty Images

Considering that it takes some formidable organizational chops to serve as a competent Beatles bibliographer, it can be downright daunting if you’re coming to the stacks of Fab Four literature as a neophyte reader wondering where you might start. For those are some buckling shelves, filled with worthy tomes, arresting diversions, gossipy trivia and dense accounts of what kind of gear the band used, who their tailors were, how many times per annum they visited the dentist, etc.

Romantic other-halves have weighed in on the story/saga side of things; ditto competing rivals, A&R men, siblings, business associates, sacked partners. There is a lot of dross. But considering that we’re talking hundreds of books, there are some top-drawer offerings as well.

Philip Norman is an old hand with Beatles-based scholarship, and his massive bio, Paul McCartney: The Life, provides a nice opportunity to survey those shelves of Beatles lit. Here’s a look at 10 of the other best Fab Four volumes to check out.


‘Love Me Do! The Beatles’ Progress,’ by Michael Braun

The first, and what I’d maintain as the best, Beatles book is one even most Beatles fans are unaware of. Hasn’t helped that it tends to dip out of print, but this is as close to a Beatles ride-along as you’ll get, with American writer Michael Braun following the band at the end of 1963 and into the early phases of the U.S. invasion the following year. Lennon himself, in the Wenner book, singled out this one as better than the Davies, a true book that portrayed them as they were: as bastards, in his word. And, yeah, there’s some of that. They make cracks at the expense of Jews, the disabled, gays. A lot of it is in a blow-off-steam kind of way, and Braun does a compelling job of conveying the non-stop pressure the group was under. In some ways they can’t handle it, and sleep away huge amounts of time; in other ways, they do what they do, and write songs no one else could touch. The Beatle wit is depicted better here than in any other book, and if the four, and their patter, were in effect a hermetically sealed entity so designed as to better take on the world, this is your chance to crack the fold.

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