Summertime and the Reading is Easy

Summertime means beach reading, which traditionally translates to thrillers, romances and the odd inspirational memoir. None of the above appeal much to me, I’m afraid. I’m a nonfiction guy, with a soft spot for music tomes of one sort or another.

Currently residing next to my bedside lamp is a 10-year-old history of the brothers who played a vital role in the rise of the Chicago blues – Nadine Cohodas’ Spinning Blues into Gold. It was preceded by a biography that explores similar terrain – Robert Gordon’s definitive Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters. If it isn’t obvious, all that reading about the Second City circa the mid-20th century is to prepare for a Chicago blues compilation from us.

Here are a few more books I’d love to get around to in the next couple of months – when it finally heats up in the Northwest:

  • Robin D.G. Kelley’s Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, a 2009 release that I’ve been told is the most thorough and nuanced book on an eccentric, complex genius.
  • Alice Echols’s Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture, which earned a glowing review from the New York Times for its take on the rise and fall of a too-easily-reviled musical genre that’s earned a reappraisal.
  • I Am Ozzy by … well, whom do you think? I’ve heard the autobiography of Black Sabbath’s infamous frontman is very entertaining and quite moving, too. I’m not surprised, either. In a past job, I reviewed quite a few bios and found that it was tough to anticipate who’d deliver the goods. One of my favorite from a decade or so ago was Meat Loaf’s To Hell and Back, just because the ‘70s superstar didn’t take himself too seriously (guess you wouldn’t if you’re commonly addressed as “Meat”) and you never knew where he was headed. One minute the big fella stumbles into the JFK crime scene, the next a hitchhiking Charlie Manson climbs into his car. And he lived to tell.

Maybe I won’t actually get much deeper into reading than perusing the SPF level on the back of a sunscreen tube. But one can dream, particularly in the summertime.

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