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Top 10 Essential Books about/by John Lennon

John Lennon, An artist, a music legend. Witty and spirited as well as a gentle and sensitive poet and brilliant musician. Sometimes an arrogant cynic, later a quiet house husband. That’s why he is also the subject of many books and biographies. It is not easy to pick out those few with real high-quality and informative values and create a chart of the best or the most interesting. Here is our Top 10 John Lennon books attempt.

1. Ray Coleman – Lennon: The Definitive Biography

The most comprehensive of all John Lennon books. It reads very easily and feels more like a novel of Lennon’s life, yet it provides tons of detail and insight. The best and most complete biography about the influential Beatle.

 

2. Philip Norman – John Lennon: The Life

This book focuses on the effect Lennon’s mother Julia had on his entire life, in addition to drawing on insightful interviews with Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, George Martin, and a moving discussion with Sean Lennon, the artist’s second son. The book also provides new spins on well-known Lennon stories like his life with his aunt Mimi, his work with McCartney, and how his relationship with Ono changed both him and the Beatles.

3. Jann S. Wenner – Lennon Remembers

The first totally authentic and raw transcript of an interview given by John Lennon to the American Rolling Stone magazine after the break-up of the Beatles. For the first time, Lennon spoke openly about the break-up of the famous band, but also about the events that preceded him.

 

4. Tim Riley – Lennon: The Man, The Myth, The Music

This recent biography by Tim Riley explores Lennon from his childhood beginnings to his tragic end and draws on previously unseen or under-utilized materials, including the memoir of Lennon’s father Alf, new records from Liverpool era, and fresh interviews with the Beatle´s associates and friends.

5. Pete Shotton – The Beatles, Lennon And Me

John Lennon’s best friend from childhood till the end of his life and member of Quarrymen wrote the book a few years after John’s death. Lennon later bought Shotton a supermarket ton on Hayling Island after he got famous, and the latter was „awfully adept at telling Lennon when the rocker was full of shit, which was often enough.“ Great and fun reading.

6. Cynthia Lennon – John

Another look at the life of this unique and legendary artist, this time through the eyes of his ex-wife, Cynthia. This memoir by Lennon’s first wife includes a foreword by their son Julian. Beginning with Cynthia and John’s meeting in 1958 at art school, “John” covers familiar stories but through a new and important perspective. The book has its fair share of tough moments and Cynthia is candid about John’s sometimes neglectful and cruel treatment of her and Julian. Nonetheless, a current of affection runs throughout and the book remains a vital account of the private life of the often inscrutable Beatle.

7. May Pang – Loving John

Another very personal memoirs. May Pang was 22 when she began to work for John Lennon and Yoko Ono as a personal assistant. This is her story of life with John and Yoko. Book about famous John’s 18-month “lost weekend” in which he was separated from Yoko . Pang claims that she and Lennon remained lovers until 1977, and stayed in contact until his death.

8. Fred Seaman – The Last Days of John Lennon: A Personal Memoir

This Lennon portrait reveals his less-known page, a man tormented by uncertainty, self-doubts, and unfulfilled desires. The author obviously did not love Yoko Ono, which is portrayed here as a cold and calculating fury, having John fully in his power. The last third of the book describes the course of John’s creative rebirth, culminating in his latest and most successful Double Fantasy album. Yoko wanted to divorce him at the time, but as soon as John started working on Double Fantasy, she turned and felt the opportunity to try to cut off the cake of glory.. Truth? Fiction? Hard to say. Interesting? Definitely.

9. Robert Rosen – Nowhere Man: The Final Days Of John Lennon

Written by New York journalist Robert Rosen, who in 1981 had access to John Lennon’s diaries, is a controversial account of his last five years. The book disputes the official view of Lennon as a contented househusband raising his son Sean and baking bread while Yoko ran the family business. Instead, Nowhere Man portrays Lennon’s daily life at the Dakota as that of a “tormented superstar, a prisoner of his fame, locked in his bedroom raving about Jesus Christ, while a retinue of servants tended to his every need.”

10. John Lennon – In His Own Write

Lennon wrote and published In His Own Write (1964) and Spaniard in the Works (1965) at the time of the first phase of beatlemania. Absurd short lyrics and poems are based primarily on inventive playing with language (verbal meaning and funny neoplasms) and denial of the usual forms, stories and the downfall of stories, but this is not alien to the British literary tradition.

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