Tag Archives: beatles books.

New-used bookstores in Baltimore lead to Beatles treasures!

I’ve been reading a book for the past two weeks, but life has been too busy to finish it to post a review. It’s actually only 180 pages, so I don’t have a really good excuse except for life getting in the way. I promise to finish it and post my review on Wednesday. In the meantime…

Yesterday my husband and I headed down to Baltimore, Maryland, to visit a used bookstore I had read about online. Since it was a two hour drive, we had planned to have lunch at the Inner Harbor and visit a cigar store, too, since he’s the editor/owner of a very popular cigar blog.

The Book Thing, Baltimore, MD

The Book Thing, Baltimore, MD

The bookstore isn’t really a bookstore at all. In fact, they give away all the books for FREE! The name of this place is The Book Thing. This place is a huge warehouse of donated used books on every topic under the sun. People bring their books to donate and others come with boxes to fill with books from the shelves. And let me tell you…it was crowded! The store is only open on Saturdays and Sundays and parking is a bit tricky, but if you’re in the Baltimore area and love books, check this place out. I wasn’t able to find any Beatles books on this trip, but I did leave with a handful of useful reading material for other endeavors. If you’re interested in going, you can read more about the who, where, when and why of how this place came to be in this article.

The Book Escape, Baltimore, MD

The Book Escape, Baltimore, MD

After driving less than 4 miles south to the Inner Harbor to have lunch, Craig and I realized that the cigar shop we wanted to visit was only 1.3 miles away, so we decided to hoof it. Lucky for me, we came upon another bookstore along the way! This store is called The Book Escape and sells both new and used books. It’s an absolutely charming store stuffed to the gills! From the front, it appears to be small, but after asking the gentleman behind the desk where his music section was, he led us to the back of the store, through a door into a courtyard and into an adjoining store front next door. This time, I managed to find 3 Beatles related books and one book written by a friend that I just had to buy for $5. But…my discoveries didn’t end there. When I got to the counter to checkout, I asked if there were any other Beatles books. Next thing I know, this guy is pulling out 5 more books from places around the store. Decisions…decisions. I limited myself to just 4 new/used books.

A couple blocks farther down on Light Street and we found ourselves at the Cross Street Tobacco store and lounge. It was a great little store and my husband says the humidor was very well stocked. Now I know most of you don’t give a hoot about cigars, but once I mentioned to the clerk that I came to Baltimore to check out bookstores and specifically to find books about the Beatles, he called over one of his regular clients who I spent the next half hour talking to about the Beatles, Stones, Bowie and other various rock bands and books written about them. He even suggested 4 books I should find. It was then that he asked if I had been to Protean Books & Records. He even called the owner to let him know we were on our way, but the owner wasn’t there. So after my husband finished his cigar, we walked the less than half a mile to the next store.

Protean Books and Records, Baltimore, MD

Protean Books and Records, Baltimore, MD

Protean Books and Records is tucked away in warehouse that had no sign on the building letting you know you had arrived. They did have a little stand-up sign on the sidewalk though. Now this place was a book lovers dream store! Racks and racks of used books, new and used CDs & LPs, and video games. My husband tells me they even had a horror museum in the back (I was too focused on the books in the music section to look around). I stumbled upon 3 more Beatles books that I just felt compelled to add to my collection.

I gotta say, this little road-trip turned out way better than I had ever expected! I would highly recommend all the places we visited in Baltimore to anyone who’s going there and an avid reader. Here’s a picture of my haul for the day… 



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Book Review: “Octopus’s Garden” by Ringo Starr

From Wikipedia: “Octopus’s Garden” is a song by the Beatles written and sung by Ringo Starr (credited to his real name Richard Starkey) from the Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road.

Ringo Starr got the idea for his song Octopus’s Garden while vacationing on a yacht in the Mediterranean sea in 1968. The inspiration came when the captain of the ship told him that octopuses live in caves and that they like to collect shiny objects to decorate around the opening of the cave like a garden.

In 2014, Ringo Starr published a children’s book named after his song Octopus’s Garden. This 10″ x 11″ book is vibrantly colored and beautifully illustrated by Ben Cort. With only 24 pages, the lyrics guide the reader through an ocean adventure  with five children as they play in the fantasy garden of an octopus. The book also includes a CD with a greeting from Ringo, a new recording of the song, Ringo narrating the book (with a ‘ding’ to tell you when to turn the page) and an instrumental version of the title song.

As I said, the book is absolutely gorgeous and you’re going to wish it was longer. But it will be great for very small children and I can see where it would also be a fun book for playing “I Spy” with all the colorful objects in the octopus’s garden!  My first thought upon hearing Ringo’s greeting on the CD was “Ah! The little conductor man!” (for those that remember him in the TV show Thomas & Friends). But after that came my disappointment…Ringo had recorded a new (and not very good) version of Octopus’s Garden. When I consulted my Beatles expert friends about why he did this, they believe that even as a former Beatles the licensing cost to use the original song would have been to high to make a profit on this project. Still, I’m sure the children who hear the song won’t know the difference and will enjoy singing along like we all did at one time or another in our lives. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!






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Book Review: “Daddy, Come Home: the true story of John Lennon and his father” by Pauline Lennon

Daddy Come Home: True Story of John Lennon and His Father by Pauline Lennon was a suggested read from Amazon.  Pauline Jones became John Lennon‘s step-mother in 1966 when she eloped with John’s father Alfred Lennon.  She was 20 and “Freddie” was 56.

Pauline met Freddie soon after John and his estranged father had reconciled in 1964 and even spent some time living and working at Kenwood for Cynthia and John as a nanny and doing secretarial work.

Pauline and AlfredI loved this book.  It really brought about a new light on an old subject of who Alfred Lennon was and why he acted in the way he did when it came to his first wife Julia and his son John.  Most of the book is taken from an autobiography that Alfred wrote in hopes of setting the record straight about his life and behavior, but the book never saw the light of day, because after a falling out with John (during his primal scream days), John forbade him to ever publish it.  The manuscript for the book was sent to John the week his father died.

Pauline also acts as a eye witness to several interactions between the on again, off again relationship between father and son and helps to tell Alfred’s story in his later years and after his death.

Whether you believe Alfred and Pauline’s stories or not, this is book is an easy and enjoyable read.  I burned through their wonderful love story and telling of their ups and downs as the most famous Beatles’ parents.  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!





Unfortunately, this book is out of print, so finding an inexpensive copy is difficult.  They’re currently selling for over $17.00 on Amazon.

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Book Review: “The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story” by Vivek J. Tiwary

The Fifth BeatleContinuing on my theme – The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, this week I decided to actually get around to reading the book!  Written by Vivek J. Tiwary with artwork by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker, The Fifth Beatle is a graphic novel about the rise and fall of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.

For those that haven’t read this book yet, here is the book’s trailer so you can get an idea of what this “adult comic book” looks like on the inside:


I purchased my copy at Vivek’s lecture last week at Monmouth University.  He only had collector’s editions (which includes “a unique, textured cover and a section of bonus materials including unique Beatles and Brian Epstein memorabilia, artist sketches, and alternate covers”), so this review is based on this edition.

This book is beautiful.  From the cover to the artwork, it’s a wonderful addition to my collection…even though I’m not a Beatles collector.  But, putting appearances aside…the writing seems to be lacking.  The dialog and story seem to be very. halting. and. static.  It lacks a certain flow.  I want to say it would have been better written with more detail and spread out as a series of books then to cram the entire story into one 139 page book, making it all a bit confusing to those that really don’t know Brian Epstein’s tragic story.

Still, it is a stunning book that I think any true Beatles collector would be proud to add to their collection and display on their shelf.  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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If you’d like to meet Vivek and get a signed copy of his book, he will be at the Fest for Beatles Fans in Rye, NY in April 2016.




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Book review: “Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll”, by Fred Goodman

(This is a Guest Review by David Thomas.  He’s a retired music teacher and huge Beatles fan that I met a year ago at the Fest for Beatles Fans in New York.  If you love his review, leave a note for him in the comment section and maybe we can make him a regular guest. Enjoy!)

And now for something completely (well, partially) different; a guest review!  I was so pleased to be asked to fill in for Jennifer on her review this week as she tends to very pressing writing matters of a different kind. 
Yes – Allan Klein, the man we Beatles fans love to hate!  For a very long time, I’ve had an idea in my mind of what Klein was like.  Unfortunately, it was based solely upon not very flattering anecdotes, and the knowledge that he had caused trouble between the Beatles.  Besides, Paul McCartney, didn’t like him, so that was good enough for me!  But deep down, I knew there had to be more to this man than the stereotypical caricature I had in my mind, so I sought out this book.
The book itself is well written, albeit a bit tough to follow in spots where they are discussing the details of Klein’s financial and legal deals.  These spots are numerous but short, and they are really quite integral to the story, because Klein was extremely creative for his time in the way he structured deals for his artists (and himself).  Many of the things he did are commonplace (or in some cases, illegal) today, but back then, they were considered revolutionary and brilliant. 
Klein, as you may suspect, was far from a one-dimensional stereotype; in fact, he was a man of many contradictions.  One minute he seems to be the most despicable figure EVER in the entertainment business, and the next there is something about him that evokes your sympathy. He was greedy with some, yet generous with others; he was a fierce negotiator, yet full of insecurities about himself and his abilities.  He worked tirelessly to get a better deal for his clients, while simultaneously almost always getting an even better deal for himself.
The book gives an excellent history of Klein the man, and gives the insight I was looking for into what made the man “tick”.  We find out why he spent a good deal of his childhood in an orphanage, and over the course of time, how he transformed an early talent for numbers into a remarkable career….through a combination of hard work, perseverance, luck, and a little (okay, maybe more than a little) deceit thrown in along the way.  

As the title suggests, his dealings with the Beatles are only a part of what is discussed in the book, although from long before his first meeting with John Lennon, Klein made it his ultimate goal to work with them; an achievement which would say to the world, and more importantly to himself, that he had finally succeeded.
Guest Reviewer
A great read about a key figure in Beatle history.  I give this book 4 Beetles!
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Book Review: “Beatles vs. Stones” by John McMillian

 Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian was published in 2013, but I just saw it for the first time a couple weeks ago on the shelf at Barnes & Noble.  As I said previously, I rarely pay full price for any of the books I review, so when I went looking for a used copy online, I discovered that there had been another earlier book written on this same topic.  I reviewed that book, The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, last week.  The difference between the two is amazing!

This book is actually a very enjoyable read and I learned a lot about the relationship between John & Paul and Mick & Keith.  They were all actually very good friends from the very start and John and Paul actually wrote the second song The Rolling Stones recorded!  That’s something that I didn’t read in last week’s book… a book that now appears like it was just a pissing contest between the co-authors to see who knew more about the two bands and their albums.

As for my opinion on this topic, both books start out early saying there was no rivalry between the two highly successful British invasion bands.  So why the books?  Because just like the press has always done, they created a rivalry that never really existed.

The book that I think really needs to be written (and maybe it has and I just haven’t found it yet) is The Beatles vs. The Beach Boys.  Those were two bands that used to analyze and look at the dynamics of each others songs and try to outdo each other.  It wasn’t just a pissing contest for first place on the record charts…it was who could write the better song and produce a better album!

Still this is a great book to learn about the relationship and friendship between two of the greatest bands the world has every known.  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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You can get a copy of this book at Half.com for about $0.75

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Book Review: “The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones” by Jim DeRogatis & Greg Kot

I found The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Rivalry  while looking online for another book I had seen in a bookstore about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I rarely will pay retail for any book I read for Beatles Freak Reviews since this site makes no money (it’s just a hobby), so I was slumming the virtual used book sites. When I saw this book, I guess I wondered why the world needed two books on such a non-topic and decided to pick up at $2 used copy.

This book is filled with some great pictures.  And if you were to purchase it for no other reason than to use it as a coffee table book, it would serve its purpose well. But as for content, it’s pretty much just two guys comparing their own personal opinions on which band, and their guitarists, bassists, drummers, drug usage and double albums are better. The authors even take on the topic of which band had the most publicized drug bust! I really don’t think either band was trying to top each other in that instance (but I’ve been wrong about these things before).

Personally, I don’t think there ever was a rivalry between these two bands, but that’s a topic I’ll hit on next week when I review the other Beatles vs. Stones book I bought with this one. And to leave room for next week’s book to suck even more than this one…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

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If you’re interested in adding this book to your collection,used copies can be had for less than $2 on Half.com.

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