The best Paul McCartney books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Paul McCartney 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.

Revolution in the Head

By Ian MacDonald,

Book cover of Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties

Revolution in the Head should come with a warning. This one is only for the most serious of Beatle fanatics. It’s an encyclopedic tome listing every song they ever recorded, who played on it, and even what days it was recorded (Strawberry Fields was recorded over five different sessions through November 1966). There are also many longer sections dealing with the particular cultural moments surrounding the writing of the songs and a whole lot of controversial opinion-making about just which ones are good songs and which are not.


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 Storyteller

By Dave Grohl,

Book cover of The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music

Before he was part of Nirvana or Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl was a kid frenetically banging drum sticks on pillows, playing along with his favorite records. He eventually saved up for a drum kit and his one and only drum lesson, in which he learned that he had been holding the sticks backward. From humble beginnings, Dave stayed remarkably humble and appreciative of the twists and turns of his musical career. Reading the book feels like you are sitting down with him backstage, sharing a beer as he shares highlights of his life with candor and humor.


Who am I?

As a life coach and author of two dozen self-help books, I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people to be more creative. I love reading about the early lives of artists because it is an engaging way to learn about the creative process. Even rock stars have doubts, insecurities, regrets, and setbacks. Yet, fueled by their passions, they persist. They overcome their obstacles and pursue unique paths to success. These books are inspirational and informative for anyone with a creative dream.


I wrote...

Be More Creative: 101 Activities to Unleash and Grow Your Creativity

By Liisa Kyle,

Book cover of Be More Creative: 101 Activities to Unleash and Grow Your Creativity

What is my book about?

Yes, you can be more creative! This activity book features 101 opportunities for you to express yourself in new ways; get inspired; explore different ways to innovate; stimulate your creative juices; use your imagination; play; boost your ingenuity; get energized; invent novel solutions to challenges; blast creative blocks; experience and learn new things; inject more fun in your life, and learn about yourself.

The Beatles

By Roag Best, Pete Best, Rory Best

Book cover of The Beatles: The True Beginnings

Nobody really understands why The Beatles are still so popular over 50 years after they last played together. Rory Best is the brother of Pete Best (famously replaced in The Beatles by Ringo Starr) and the son of Neil Aspinall (the Beatles Road Manager who later ran Apple Corporation - The Beatles’ own company). This book tells the story of the true origins of The Beatles, centred around his mother, Mona Best, and The Casbah Coffee Club.


Who am I?

I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 40 years and now pass on that knowledge to mentees and university students. The key to success in business is being able to attract and then learn from mentors, who, in my opinion, always should provide their knowledge, wisdom, and connections free of charge. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to go down ‘The Dark Side’, especially if the pursuit of money and power becomes overwhelming. Many famous billionaires are not especially nice people. But there are many nice businesspeople out there and I aspire to be one of those, hence my pursuit of a daily advancement in esoteric, hermetic, and other knowledge.


I wrote...

The Beermat Entrepreneur: Turn Your good idea into a great business

By Mike Southon, Chris West,

Book cover of The Beermat Entrepreneur: Turn Your good idea into a great business

What is my book about?

The Beermat Entrepreneur helps you convert your jotted notes about your business idea into a big and successful business. With wit and humour, this quick-to-read and simple-to-use book could turn your beermat inspiration into reality.

You’ve got a bright idea. An idea that you think maybe, just maybe, could become a brilliant business. But what next? The Beermat Entrepreneur is the answer. It takes you through all the crucial stages between those first notes on a beermat and a business that is sound, lasting, and profitable. It tells you what the other books don’t – the lessons that most people have to learn by bitter experience; the tricks that all entrepreneurs wish somebody had told them before they set out. From testing your idea and finding a mentor, through selecting and motivating the right people and securing your first customer, to deciding when to ‘go for growth’ – this is the guide to turning good ideas into real businesses.

Little Miss Sunshine

By Michael Arndt, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Book cover of Little Miss Sunshine: The Shooting Script

Once upon a time, in a small apartment in Brooklyn, an unemployed, unproduced, unagented writer sat down to start a script. Three days later he finished it. Twelve months of rewrites and he sold it. Four years later it was made. And a year after that it won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. But, Michael Arndt notes in his modest introduction to the shooting script, this isn’t “a rewards-of-virtue narrative”; it’s a story about the razor-thin line between success and failure – and how, as Dwayne says in the movie, you should “do what you love and fuck the rest”. Words to live – and write – by.

Who am I?

I am the author of four books of interviews with filmmakers: Smoking in Bed: Conversations with Bruce Robinson (a Guardian Book of the Year), Story and Character: Interviews with British Screenwriters, Hampton on Hampton (an Observer Book of the Year), and The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft. I have written original and adapted screenplays and stageplays, on spec and to commission; contributed film interviews and reviews to UK magazines and newspapers; chaired Q&A events at book and screenwriting festivals; and recently published my first novel, The Vetting Officer. My next nonfiction project is a book of conversations with bestselling author and screenwriter William Boyd, for Penguin.


I wrote...

The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft

By Alistair Owen,

Book cover of The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft

What is my book about?

Producers and audiences are hungrier than ever for stories, and a lot of those stories begin life as a book – but how exactly do you transfer a story from the page to the screen? Do adaptations use the same creative gears as original screenplays? Does a true story give a project more weight than a fictional one? Is it helpful to have the original author’s input on the script? And how much pressure is the screenwriter under, knowing they won’t be able to please everyone with the finished product?

The Art of Screen Adaptation reveals the challenges and pleasures of reimagining stories for cinema and television, and provides a frank and fascinating masterclass with the writers who have done it – and have the awards and acclaim to show for it.

The Eureka Factor

By John Kounios, Mark Beeman,

Book cover of The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain

Did you ever have a sudden insight, a new idea—something that made you go, “Aha!”? It’s as if your brain had been doing unconscious work, then suddenly “reported up” to your conscious mind. This book by two prominent cognitive neuroscientists gives a clear picture of what scientists have learned about how brain networks connecting the two hemispheres give rise to creative insights. Their book helped me think about how new metaphors might be discovered—just one example of what the creative mind can do.


Who am I?

I’m a professor of cognitive psychology at UCLA, and also a poet. Growing up on a dairy farm in British Columbia, I immersed myself in the world of books. My mother showed me her well-worn copy of a poetry book written by her Scottish great-great-aunt, and I longed to create my own arrangements of words. Later, as a student at the University of British Columbia and then Stanford, my interest in creativity was channeled into research on how people think. I’ve studied how people use analogies and metaphors to create new ideas. In addition to books on the psychology of thinking and reasoning, I’ve written several volumes of poetry.


I wrote...

The Spider's Thread: Metaphor in Mind, Brain, and Poetry

By Keith J. Holyoak,

Book cover of The Spider's Thread: Metaphor in Mind, Brain, and Poetry

What is my book about?

I’ve approached creativity as both psychologist and poet, but I always kept a mental curtain drawn between the two points of view—until I wrote The Spider’s Thread. Taking poetry as a microcosm for human creativity, I explore it simultaneously from the “outside” view of a scientist and the “inside” view of a poet. I draw on the ideas of scientists— psychologists, neuroscientists, linguists, and computer scientists— as well as thinkers from the humanities—poets, philosophers, and critics. Each chapter begins with a poem (by the likes of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Theodore Roethke, Du Fu, William Butler Yeats, and Pablo Neruda), and then steps back to explore wider connections to metaphor, mind, and the human brain. 

Moonwalk

By Michael Jackson,

Book cover of Moonwalk

I have been and always will be a huge Michael Jackson fan. And because my book was inspired by conversations about his children, I feel it only right to list his autobiography on my list. Michael Jackson is often accused of wanting to be White because of his various plastic surgeries and the change in his skin tone but what many people don’t know, or believe, is that he suffered from vitiligo, a skin disorder that causes pigment-producing cells to die or stop functioning.


Who am I?

I am African American, so colorism is part of living on this planet as a Black person because it’s a byproduct of racism. I am also the mother of a “mixed” child. Her father is White. I am brown-skinned and my daughter is light-skinned and looks racially ambiguous. Since she was a newborn, people have made colorist and racist remarks toward us. The Half Series – When Black People Look White was written based on real-life experiences.


I wrote...

The Half Series: When Black People Look White

By Dangerous Lee, Katie Burrell (narrator), Jonathan R. Miller (narrator), Lisa Thornton (narrator), Jerian Dimattei (narrator), Leon Scott Baxter (narrator), Lisa Chase Patterson (narrator), Carolyn Battle-Cochrane (narrator), Kate and Jenni (narrator)

Book cover of The Half Series: When Black People Look White

What is my book about?

The Half Series - When Black People Look White focuses on the colorism that biracial, mixed, and multi-ethnic people deal with as well as how they see themselves. Features interviews, first-person accounts, fun facts, and discussions about the children of Michael Jackson.

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