Book review: '100 Things Beatles Fans Should Know Or Do Before They Die'

CorrespondentJuly 20, 2013 

"100 Things Beatles Fans Should Know or Do Before They Die" by Gillian G. Gaar.

  • Nonfiction 100 Things Beatles Fans Should Know or Do Before They Die Gillian G. Gaar

    Triumph Books, 256 pages

In a 1970 interview, John Lennon recapped The Beatles this way: “We were just a band that made it very, very big.”

Some 50 years on, the continued deification of the Fab Four has fascinated – and at times frightened – me. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books exploring virtually every hair on the Mop Tops’ heads. Some are good, some are bad, and some just didn’t need to be written.

It’s this category in which Gillian Gaar’s “100 Things Beatles Fans Should Know or Do Before They Die” fits. Gaar has produced a bucket-list book for Beatles’ fans. The book is targeted at – well, that’s a tough one. Aside from a handful of obscure nuggets, there’s little information that isn’t already available in other more comprehensive and compelling books (or Wikipedia, for that matter).

If you’re truly interested in learning about The Beatles phenomenon, you’d do better with Bob Spitz’s “The Beatles,” Hunter Davies’ “The Beatles,” Mark Lewisohn’s “The Beatles Recording Sessions” or my personal favorite, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” by Jonathan Gould. Or just read “Anthology,” in which John, Paul, George and Ringo tell the story themselves.

Before an indignant Beatlemaniac takes me to Bungalow Bill’s woodshed, I get the contradiction (or hypocrisy, if you prefer) of an admitted Beatles aficionado blasting a book that summarizes the oft-told tale in easy-to-digest two-page chapters. My problem is not as much with Garr’s style or accuracy as with how she answers the “Why?” test. And that’s because she doesn’t. Try as I might, I can’t think of a good reason for this book to have been written when dozens of others already line Amazon’s virtual shelves.

“100 Things…” is bathroom reading, at best.

One redeeming feature: At the end of many chapters Garr includes recommended titles for more information. In the case of this book, it’s best to go to the end first.

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