The best John Lennon books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about John Lennon and why they recommend each book.

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Man on the Run

By Tom Doyle,

Book cover of Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s

What happened to the individual members of the Beatles in the years after the group dissolved? Many books have been devoted to that part of their saga, but few gripped me as much as this detailed, well-researched story of McCartney and his band Wings. Written with the cooperation of Macca—who gave several interviews to Doyle—Man on the Run makes you realize how chaotic, unstable, and (to use a period phrase) wild and crazy Wings were, despite the banality of some of their music. In that regard, it’s a perfect Seventies story: Beneath the seemingly mellow vibes and image lie a far more turbulent saga, reflecting the way McCartney himself repeatedly grappled with redefining himself after his tenure in arguably the greatest pop group of all time. 


Who am I?

I’m a senior writer at Rolling Stone, where I cover a wide range of music-related topics. But as a child of the Seventies, I was shaped by the defining and enthralling pop culture of that era, from singer-songwriters, Southern rock, and disco records to Norman Lear sitcoms. In some of my work, I’ve chronicled the highs and lows of that era, perhaps as a way to answer a question that haunted me during my youth: Why did my older sisters and their friends keep telling me that the Sixties were the most incredible decade ever and the Seventies were awful? What did I miss? And how and where did it all go wrong?


I wrote...

Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970

By David Browne,

Book cover of Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970

What is my book about?

As a new decade arrives, so do seismic shifts in rock and roll: Three of the most iconic bands of the era break up, and new talent, reflecting the more inward and less political trends of the Seventies, busts out of the gate. The first book on the musical, political, and cultural changes of the year 1970, Fire and Rain tells the story of four landmark artists, their key albums (the Beatles’ Let It Be, Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Déjà vu and James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James), the intertwining personal ties between those artists, and the ways in which their songs and journeys mirrored the end of one era and the start of another, equally jarring one.

Clapton

By Eric Clapton,

Book cover of Clapton: The Autobiography

Eric Clapton's early childhood was difficult. He'd been born illegitimately, complicating his relationship with his birth mother. His primary consolation came from playing the guitar. His fantastic talent as a young guitarist made him a cult favorite in the British nightclub scene until the entire world discovered him as a superstar in his first band, the short-lived, Cream. But his memberships in Blind Faith, Delaney and Bonnie, and Friends, and Derek and the Dominoes were also fleeting despite producing some of the most timeless songs in rock history.

All of his weaknesses rose to the top when he convinced Pattie Boyd to leave George Harrison and live with him in 1974. Pattie began traveling with Clapton as he began touring the U.S. In 1979, he and Pattie finally married, with Harrison present as an invited guest. While it seemed that Clapton had everything he had ever wanted, he was sinking…


Who am I?

My Indiana singing group was transplanted and reformed into a popular rock band In mid-60s California. We survived San Francisco's East Bay dive bars, thrived in the City's North Beach topless clubs, appeared in several Hollywood rock clubs, opened a showroom/lounge at Caesars Palace, and performed for two years at the Flamingo Hotel. We were discovered by big-name managers, signed to a famous producer, recorded in the best studios, and released several records with a well-known record label. Though we didn't quite make it to the top rung, we checked all the boxes in our journey. In the 70s, I became a personal manager in Hollywood and eventually opened and operated a Sunset Boulevard recording studio. My two books are a passionate retelling of my musical journey. As I worked on them, I turned to memoirs of other musicians and singers for inspiration. These are a few of them.


I wrote...

Night People: Things We Lost in the Night (Book 1)

By Larry J. Dunlap,

Book cover of Night People: Things We Lost in the Night (Book 1)

What is my book about?

Night People is a fast-moving adventure and romance-filled memoir that reads like a novel! A young Midwestern singer and his friends experience the transformative power of love, loss, and music in a West Coast adventure in the chaotic 1960s. Larry and his new band quickly dive into a breathtaking journey through mob-run nightclubs, Las Vegas showrooms and backrooms, famous Hollywood night spots, top West Coast recording studios, celebrity managers--and passionate romance. Everything they've ever dreamed of seems just around the corner.

Their story is set against the backdrop of the West Coast in a historic era of cultural, political, musical, and sexual upheaval-- and the draft! In the tumultuous nights the band inhabits, where things and people are too easily found and lost—everything Larry thought he knew about life, love, and himself is challenged.

The Power of Myth

By Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers,

Book cover of The Power of Myth

The essence of negotiation is being willing and able to challenge everything. This is the message of Campbell’s insightful work. The Power of Myth shows us how to negotiate with the system as it tries to manipulate us to behave in ways that do not always serve our interests. “It’s a very grim thing to be a modern human being,” Campbell says. I revisit this book every couple of years and always find new ways to make the world a better place to live.

Who am I?

Ed Brodow is one of the world’s leading experts on the art of negotiation and the bestselling author of eight books, including the business classic Negotiation Boot Camp. SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt dubbed Ed “The King of Negotiators.” Forbes Magazine agreed, ranking Ed as one of the nation’s leading dealmakers. A nationally recognized television personality, Ed has appeared as a negotiation guru on ABC National News, Fox News, PBS, Inside Edition, and Fortune Business Report. For more than two decades, his acclaimed seminars have set the standard for "how to make a deal" in Corporate America. Ed is a former U.S. Marine officer, Fortune 500 sales manager, and Hollywood movie actor.


I wrote...

Negotiation Boot Camp: How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals

By Ed Brodow,

Book cover of Negotiation Boot Camp: How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals

What is my book about?

Negotiation expert Ed Brodow arms readers with the same proven strategies and tactics he teaches to the professional negotiators at Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, The Hartford, Learjet, McKinsey, Starbucks, British Aerospace, the IRS, and the Pentagon. Using a wealth of examples from real-life encounters, Brodow reveals how to develop the skills and confidence you need to achieve your goals at work and in your personal life. After completing Brodow’s basic training program, you will have learned how to conquer your fear of confrontation, develop your personal negotiation style, assess the other side’s strengths and weaknesses, master the art of listening, break through impasses, and create an atmosphere of trust in which the other party is a collaborator rather than a competitor.

Where Are They Buried? How Did They Die?

By Tod Benoit,

Book cover of Where Are They Buried? How Did They Die?

Any collection of famous people’s gravesites is going to be idiosyncratic. Ask 10 people whose graves they would like to visit and you will get 100 different answers. That said, this is the most entertaining and reasonably comprehensive encyclopedia of the graves of the famous that you will find outside of Find-a-Grave. I’ve gotten hours of fun from it.

Since it contains very few grave monument photographs, Where Are They Buried? includes a whole lot of people whose ashes have been scattered. I would have loved to leave a rose at the grave of John Lennon, but the Strawberry Fields mosaic in Central Park will have to do.


Who am I?

I grew up down the road from the little graveyard where my grandfather was buried. By accident, I discovered the glorious Victorian-era Highgate Cemetery in 1991. A friend sent me to explore Paris’s Pere Lachaise Cemetery – and I was hooked. I’ve gone from stopping by cemeteries when I travel to building vacations around cemeteries I want to see. I’ve gone out of my way to visit cemeteries in the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Japan, Spain, Singapore, and across the United States. At the moment, I’m editing Death’s Garden Revisited, in which 40 contributors answer the question: “Why is it important to visit cemeteries?”


I wrote...

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die

By Loren Rhoads,

Book cover of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die

What is my book about?

Over 3 million tourists flock to Paris's Pere Lachaise Cemetery each year. They are lured there, and to many cemeteries around the world, by a combination of natural beauty, ornate tombstones, notable residents, vivid history, and even wildlife. Many also visit Mount Koya cemetery in Japan, where 10,000 lanterns illuminate the forest setting, or Oaxaca, Mexico to witness the Day of the Dead. 

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die features these unforgettable cemeteries, along with 196 more, in more than 300 photographs. In this bucket list of travel musts, author Loren Rhoads, who hosts the popular Cemetery Travel blog, details the history and features that make each destination unique.

The Love You Make

By Peter Brown, Steven Gaines,

Book cover of The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles

The Love You Make is pure pop pablum. It’s almost tabloid-like in its recounting of the Beatle’s relationships, their drug use, and their many petty squabbles. Written by Brian Epstein’s assistant (Brian Epstein, of course, was the Beatles’ manager), Brown has some stories to tell. Full of photos too. This one’s a lot of fun if you don’t take it too seriously.


Who am I?

The first record I ever bought was Magical Mystery Tour when I was no more than twelve or so. It’s what made me want to be a musician myself. I’ve got every Beatle record and I am the kind of guy to study carefully who played what, who wrote what, and how they put it all together. Just before Covid shut down everything, I even went to Abbey Road studios where we recorded some of the songs for my novel (we wrote and recorded all the songs of the fictitious band Downtown Exit). Working in Abbey Road was a dream come true – to record in the same rooms that the Beatles used. Imagine that. It was wonderful.


I wrote...

Bootleg Stardust

By Glenn Dixon,

Book cover of Bootleg Stardust

What is my book about?

It’s 1974 and young Levi Jaxon is about to become very famous. He’s a young guitarist from nowhere who’s been dutifully sending out demo tapes to record companies when, a miracle of miracles, he gets a call to audition for an already-famous band called Downtown Exit. They’re recording their second album at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London and he’s got to get over there as soon as possible.

Nothing is as it seems though, and when they set off on their first European tour, everything starts to go wrong and Levi has to escape before he loses everything: the love of his life, the rights to his songs, and a box filled with about a hundred thousand dollars worth of Greek drachma.

The Anatomy of Story

By John Truby,

Book cover of The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller

John Truby’s book is an invaluable resource for the serious writer. He provides in-depth insights into the inner workings of a character, and the character’s creator (you, the author), to create memorable, powerful, and emotionally moving narratives. Not only do you discover the tools to create compelling characters and their story worlds, but you also gain awareness of your own values and worldview that influence and shape your story from its foundation to its masterful completion. 

This book was a pivotal influence in the step-by-step progression of my historical novel with its six point-of-view characters and their story world, set in the turbulent period of post-unification Italy. 


Who am I?

I was inspired by teachers and books starting at a very early age, and even before I was ten, I knew that I wanted to become a teacher and writer. In pursuing these two passions, I set out to become the best that I could be. I read countless books on the art and craft of writing (many of them by acclaimed authors). I chose these five exceptional books in the order that I read them over years of researching/writing La Brigantessa, which ultimately won an international Gold IPPY award for Historical Fiction, and was a finalist in two national literary awards. Hope you, too, are inspired by my picks!


I wrote...

La Brigantessa

By Rosanna Battigelli,

Book cover of La Brigantessa

What is my book about?

La Brigantessa is a novel set in the aftermath of Italy’s 1861 Unification, a turbulent period that saw scores of brigands rebelling against the harsh policies of the new government, which in turn ordered the destruction of these outlaws.

Gabriella Falcone is a peasant girl from Calabria who is forced to flee her village after stabbing a wealthy landowner in self-defence, but she and the parish priest accompanying her soon fall into the hands of brigands. Gabriella is catapulted into a world where right and wrong, justice and vengeance take on new meanings in this wild, unlawful territory. Experiencing the harsh existence of an outlaw, she discovers what she must do to survive and to ultimately vindicate herself.

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