Books

This Summer’s Best Pop Music Page-Turners

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Released last month, the longtime Rolling Stone critic’s Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World (Dey Street, $25) has already entered the Fab Four pantheon (see Greil Marcus’s latest column). Whether he’s arguing Britney’s best deep cuts or Dylan’s Nobel bona fides, Sheffield brings both a music fan’s obsessiveness and an academic’s scholarly insight. It’s the same approach he brought to his picks for the summer’s best pop-culture books, a selection that put together with a little help from his friends.

Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011, by Lizzy Goodman (Dey Street, $27)

“How great is this book? I love it so much, and it’s amazing to see how omnipresent it is in New York these days. Last week I was talking about it with my dental hygienist, and I was like, ‘I can’t get away from this book anywhere!” When Lizzy started writing it, I told her it was crazy to do this as an oral history because she’d have to get all these surly, mono-syllabic rock stars to talk on the record. That’s an awful lot of cat wrangling, but she pulled it off. It’s about how this whole wave of scenesters and dreamers and poseurs fell on the city and tried to hustle something grand and vast out of it. That’s the ultimate New York story. And as far as I’m concerned this book is one of the truly great New York stories”

In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs, by Andrew Blauner (ed.) (Blue Rider Press, $23)

“Some of my favorite books about the Beatles have fallen through the cracks historically, but a new book that I like a lot is In Their Lives, Which Andrew Blauner edited. It’s funny because there’s a mix of great writers and musicians who are not necessarily writers at all, people with different approaches and different perspectives on the music. There’s a lot of great stuff, including a Chuck Klosterman chapter on ‘Helter Skelter’ that I just love.”

X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century, by Chuck Klosterman (Blue Rider Press, $27)

“Like Lizzy, Chuck is a friend, and his new book, X or Ten or whatever the fuck it’s called, is unbelievably great. It has some of my very favorite writing that he’s done, stuff that’s hard-core on an emotional level. There’s a chapter about his life-long Kiss fandom, which for my money is the greatest thing ever written about Kiss, and Kiss is one of the most-written-about and most famous bands that ever existed. Reading Chuck on the Kiss-ography is like reading Dr. Johnson on John Milton

Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music, by Ann Powers (Dey Street. $27)

“This is a book looking at the history of sex in American music going back to the nineteenth century, and it’s just amazingly ambitious. It draws on a lot of the ideas that she’s been exploring since she was the Voice‘s music editor. There’s a wonderful bit on the women in Little Richard’s life, and only a writer as brilliant as Ann Powers could find these new ways to talk about Little Richard and Little Richard’s music. But the whole thing is great. It’s not out until August, but I had been looking forward to reading this book for so many years, and it’s even better than I hoped it would be.”

Psychocandy, by Paula Meijia (33 1/3, $14.95)

“The perfect beach book, if you happen to be living the Summer Goth lifestyle. This is a 33 1/3 book on the Jesus & Mary Chain’s beautifully fucked-up noise-pop record—it’s a whole epic with pasty Scottish boys vandalizing girl-group pop under the cloudy skies of East Killbride. I thought I knew the whole story but it turns out I learned something new from practically every page of this. Highly recommended to anybody who’s only happy when it rains.”

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