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Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

5star.jpg Autobiography

No you haven't stumbled into a music review from the 1970s, I'm talking about The Boss's autobiography. Lots of books have been written about Springsteen by folk who knew him, worked with him and by others who have only read the cuttings. Over the last seven years he has been going about – not putting the record straight, exactly – but telling it from his own perspective. As he puts it: Writing about yourself is a funny business. By his own admission, it isn't the whole truth, discretion holds him back but in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I've tried to do this. Full review...

A Beatles Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Beatles but Were Afraid to Ask by John Van der Kiste

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You might have thought that just about everything which could be said about the Beatles had been said and certainly there's been no shortage of books about what went wrong, what happened to the money and even what went right. But what I've never seen before is a 'miscellany' - all those little facts which are so hard to track down and this is where historian John Van der Kiste comes into his own: he's a man with an eye for detail and the ability to bring everything together into a very readable whole. It's a wonderful collection of the small facts. Full review...

Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe by Julian Palacios

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There were few sadder casualties of the sixties music scene than Syd (real name Roger) Barrett. The original songwriting genius and front man of Pink Floyd, he burnt out all too soon. A few months in the spotlight were followed all too soon by a pathetic postscript of a stuttering solo career, and over three decades as a largely housebound recluse. Full review...

Star Wars Rogue One: Mission Files by Jason Fry

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Out of several books I've seen to tie-in to the seventh official cinema movie in the Star Wars universe, this – and the resulting review – is the greatest source of spoilers. What you get is a surprisingly mature look at the background and events to Rogue One for such a juvenile book, with some fine stills photographs, and a volume that introduces all the main characters and gears you up to understand and enjoy a lot of the events of the film. So if you don't want to know those in advance, look away now. But certainly consider this as a purchase for reading once you've watched it. Full review...

Star Wars Rogue One: Art of Colouring by Lucasfilm

3.5star.jpg Crafts

Colour me happy that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is around. While I've not had the chance of seeing it yet, I'm dead chuffed it takes place at a central point of the main arc of films' storylines, and not some nebulous place elsewhere in that galaxy far, far away. Yes, it does do what the 'new trilogy' did, and have much more gloss and many more technologies than the films set after it, but what is not to like? Well, the expected expenditure on tie-in books and articles, I guess – several hundred pounds on one collector's card is a little steep. But seeing as I handily mentioned colouring above, in the vernacular, why not take it literally and use this large format paperback, promising 100 Images to Inspire Creativity? Full review...

Pop Pickers and Music Vendors: David Jacobs, Alan Freeman, John Peel, Tommy Vance and Roger Scott by John Van der Kiste

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You know those questions you get in celebrity interviews - 'which extinct being would you most like to see brought back to life?' Well, I'd like to see Jimmy Savile brought back, so that he could get his comeuppance. It's not just the damage he did to children and young people, dreadful as that was - it's the shadow he cast over the entertainment industry. We know that he wasn't alone in what he did, but somehow there's a whole era of entertainment which has been tarred by the same brush. John Van der Kiste has turned the spotlight away from Savile and on to five of the great DJs of the music industry. Full review...

Star Wars: Galactic Atlas by Emil Fortune and Tim McDonagh

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

At the time of writing this review, people are eagerly tapping away at phones, laptops and screens everywhere to find out what they can about Rogue One, the Star Wars film that's the first live action cinema effort to be off to one edge of the canon, and is five whole weeks away. Perhaps, however, there is a chance that all the many books being released that mention the ability to tie in to Rogue One will let slip something important. The volume at hand includes a map from… said movie, and all the maps here initially seem to feature a huge amount of information. Could valuable secrets be herein? Full review...

Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop by Marc Myers

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This book developed from a series of columns of the same title which appeared in the Wall Street Journal over a period of five years, in which forty-five songs (what an appropriate number) from the years 1952 to 1991 were put under the microscope and examined through interviews with the artists, songwriters and others who created them. Full review...

Planet Earth II by Stephen Moss

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Planet Earth II is the official companion to the upcoming BBC wildlife documentary series of the same name. Our understanding of the world around us has reached a new level, courtesy of ground-breaking technology that gives us unparalleled access to a diverse range of environments and a sneak peek into previously hidden worlds. The book looks at six vastly different environments: Jungles, Mountains, Deserts, Grasslands, Islands and Cities and showcases some of the amazing creatures that live in each one. Full review...

The Song Machine: How to Make a Hit by John Seabrook

4star.jpg Entertainment

The popular music business has always been about – well, business – and some might say that music comes a poor second. Ever since the advent of the 78 r.p.m. disc, record companies have competed with each other and sought new ways of marketing their goods. The songwriter, or if you like the person or partnership at the controls of ‘the song machine’, has long been a vital link in the chain. In today’s climate of increasingly free music, how much does this still hold true? Full review...

Only Fools and Horses: The Peckham Archives by Rod Green

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We are in the world of one of the country's most famous and well-loved sitcoms – even if it was sort-of killed off for Christmas 2003. Yes, there have been specials since, and more repeats to clog up the BBC schedules than is really pukka, but very few people failed to succumb to its charms at one time or another. I'm sure there have been books before now celebrating the stony-faced reception of that drop through the open bar hatch, and that chandelier scene, but this is much more meaty. Purporting to be the family archives, found dumped in Nelson Mandela House, the documents here were passed from pillar to post, from one council worker in a department with a clumsy acronym to another, from them to the police – and now here they are being published for their social history worth. Will enough readers find them of worth, as the series quietly celebrates its 35th birthday? Full review...

Minecraft Exploded Builds: Medieval Fortress by Mojang AB

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If you have ever marvelled at the creative architecture designed by the talented members of the Minecraft community and been inspired to give it a go yourself, then Exploded Builds might be the perfect book for you. It is aimed at those of us who have the ambition but lack the necessary expertise to design such stunning buildings. Medieval Fortress will guide you every step of the way with detailed diagrams and customisation options, allowing you be king of you own castle in no time at all. Full review...

Danger Mouse: Declassified by Bruno Vincent

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There is nothing else for it but to declare my love for Danger Mouse (and no, I don't mean the musician/producer, or the remake, which I've not sampled). What I didn't know at the time to call 'breaking the fourth wall', the chutzpah and energy of the storytelling, and primarily the simple and simply brilliant character design made it one of my go-to sources for entertainment, and about the only thing that would get the TV switched to ITV, apart from Blockbusters. The dates on the front of this volume prove we're referring to the genius original series, but these contents seem to me fully new. Taking it that they are, has the idea stood the test of time, and will people be on board for what is surely a much-belated tribute gift book? Full review...

Orson Welles, Volume 3: One-Man Band by Simon Callow

4.5star.jpg Biography

Orson Welles, the noted actor, director and producer, was one of those larger than life characters whose impact on the world of stage and screen during his lifetime was inestimable. Simon Callow has found the task of condensing his story into a single volume is impossible, and this is the third of three solid instalments. Full review...

Electric Shock: From the Gramophone to the iPhone - 125 Years of Pop by Peter Doggett

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For many of us, it must be difficult to imagine a life without recorded music. Millions of us must have grown up with, even to, a very varied soundtrack consisting of one genre after another. In this book, Peter Doggett takes a marvellous broad sweep through the history of popular music from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day, from wax cylinders to streaming services. A rather maudlin ditty 'After The Ball', by Charles K. Harris, is regarded as the first modern popular song (well, it was modern in 1891) – the first of millions. Full review...

Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs by John Lydon

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Picking up this book immediately makes you wonder what exactly you make of John Lydon, the man who became notorious in the late 1970s as 'Johnny Rotten' of the Sex Pistols. Was he the iconoclast who if some of the tabloids were to be believed was about to destroy western civilization almost single-handed? Had he really come to destroy, or merely to use the showbusiness system and end up becoming part of what he had set out to fight, or both – or what? Full review...

In Real Life: Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age by Nev Schulman

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Nev (it's pronounced Neev) is a man who knows about the darker side of online dating. Known for his documentary Catfish – a film which showed an online flirtation going sour, Nev then began making a tv show of the same name, travelling America to offer advice to those in online relationships, and possibly being catfished (which means being lured into a relationship by someone adopting a fictional online persona). Now the go-to expert in online relationships for millenials, a generation who have never known a world without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online places where interactions can form. Here, he takes his investigation to the page – exploring relationships in the era of social media, delving deeply into the complexities of dating in a digital age, and continuing the dialogue his show has begun about how we interact with each other online – as well as sharing insights from his own story. Full review...

James Dean: Rebel Life by John Howlett

4star.jpg Biography

James Dean was in a sense to the 1950s what Sid Vicious was to the 1970s – the ultimate 'live fast, die young' character, although as the star of three classic movies of the era he achieved rather more in his short life than the hapless punk icon ever did in his. Full review...

Spectacles by Sue Perkins

4star.jpg Autobiography

A dash of drama, a sprinkling of gossip and a smattering of laugh-out-loud funny make for the best sort of memoir. Full review...

Minecraft: The Survivors' Book of Secrets by Stephanie Milton

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Ready to take your Minecraft game to the next level? Then you just might need the advice of a professional. 'The Survivors' are an elite group of gaming experts who are proficient in survival skills. They are breaking their cover to share their most precious secrets with us; valuable insider knowledge on the best ways to survive and prosper in the most inhospitable online environments. Minecraft proudly present their latest official book: The Survivors' Book of Secrets. Full review...

David Bowie: Starman: A Colouring Book by Coco Balderrama and Laura Coulman

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David Bowie's death in January 2016 came as a shock to me: we were much of an age and he'd always seemed so vital. But his final album, Blackstar, seemed to foretell his death and was a commercial success, coming in at number one in the UK Top 100 Albums Chart, and the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum is the most successful exhibition ever staged by the V&A. But what of a more relaxing memory of the man who was part genius and part chameleon? Full review...

How Music Got Free: The Inventor, the Music Man, and the Thief by Stephen Witt

4star.jpg Business and Finance

In the digital age, new technology made recorded music a free-for-all. It was good news for the consumer, but dealt a major blow to the beleaguered music industry. Where people once amassed physical collections, they now had the choice of file-sharing instead. This book describes how everything changed from the mid-1990s onwards. It is however written more with the computer enthusiast or business student than the music lover in mind. Full review...

Doctor Who: 365 Days of Memorable Moments and Impossible Things by Justin Richards

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Is it any wonder that The Doctor's use of a diary is mentioned merely as a joke? Let alone the fact it would come in whatever time unit (if any) Time Lords actually use, there's the problem of it not ever being chronological, and the fact he would never seem to have the time to fill it in. O tempora, o mores indeed. But if the human observer of Doctor Who would want a full year book, completely filled in and annotated with everything they would want to know about the Doctor in relation to the human calendar, then they have it at last with this lovely hardback. It's a brick of a book, of course, given the depth of the subject, but well worth the time taken to read it. Full review...