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Beatles Portrait UNITED KINGDOM - CIRCA 1964: Rock and roll band "The Beatles" pose for a portrait in circa 1964 in England. (L-R) George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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Cultural Studies

From Enya to the Beatles, Leonard Cohen and Richard Avedon, these culture tomes belong on your reading list. / BY Nathalie Atkinson / January 27th, 2021

For the culture vultures who are plugged in to the zeitgeist and have already devoured every think piece on The Queen’s Gambit, here are some books about the usual pop-culture suspects plus a few that zig instead of zag.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1 Enya: A Treatise on Unguilty Pleasures by Chilly Gonzales

Canada’s unclassifiable, Grammy-winning contemporary pianist dissects his unapologetic enthusiasm for the Irish, new-age singer-songwriter’s work in this entertaining short take, with thought-provoking observations on the nature of art, music, and taste.




2150 Glimpses of the Beatles by Craig Brown

Readers of Private Eye will recognize this critic’s pen – he’s been writing the British current affairs mag’s acclaimed parodic column for more than 30 years. In this kaleidoscopic biography, which recently won the UK’s Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction, Brown showcases his knack for insight through irreverence and juxtaposition of people and events to reveal everything you didn’t know you still wanted to know about the Fab Four—and then some.

3All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono by David Sheff

The complete wide-ranging Playboy interview (originally published in January 1981, just after Lennon’s assassination) has a new introduction by American journalist Sheff, who revisits his time with the creative couple at their Dakota apartment and how the experience resonated with him as a person and parent.




4Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories: The Early Years by Michael Posner

This is the first installment of a three-book chronicle by Posner, the Canadian entertainment journalist who has authored award-winning bios on both Mordecai Richler and Anne Murray. It covers the Canadian troubadour’s privileged Montreal childhood and rejection of law and the family business up to his first major tour in 1970.




5 What Becomes a Legend Most: A Biography of Richard Avedon by Philip Gefter

An authority on photography, this New Yorker contributor and former New York Times editor delivers the definitive biography of one of the 20th century’s most successful photographers. And it brings Avedon‘s artistic milieu of midcentury Manhattan – including Truman Capote, Leonard Bernstein, Sidney Lumet and James Baldwin – to life while putting his work into cultural and artistic context.

6Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld

In the course of his 45-year career the comedian has kept every idea, note, and scrap of material. In this chronological collection he shares personal favourites, from humorous essays, observations, and bits to stand-up routines.




7The Lost Adventures of James Bond by Mark Edlitz

While you wait for Daniel Craig’s last turn as James Bond in No Time to Die, read this pop-culture writer and Bond aficionado’s interviews and investigations into the world of out-of-print, lost, unpublished and unmade Fleming/007 projects. They include former Bond actor Timothy Dalton’s abandoned forays into movie making, a Casino Royale play, and even an animated series about Bond’s nephew.

8Sweet Dreams: The Stories of the New Romantics by Dylan Jones

In the late 1970s a pop phenomenon initially took hold with English art students and ex-punks who ushered in the music and stylish look of Roxy Music, Spandau Ballet and Giorgio Moroder. This oral history of the New Romantic Movement by the longtime editor of British GQ sheds light on its cultural impact, from music to fashion.




9 They Just Seem a Little Weird: How KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz Remade Rock and Roll by Doug Brod

This deep dive by the former editor of Spin magazine goes back in time to retrace the impact, rivalries and legacy of the 1970s monster rock bands who transformed what were once merely called gigs into the art of spectacle and dramatic showmanship. It’s four rock biographies for the price of one.

10Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez

The dynamic online commentary duo known as Tom and Lorenzo use every aspect of the hit show — be it the Werk Room to the art of drag itself — as a lens to unpack and celebrate LGBTQ pioneers, history, and culture.






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