Published on December 24th, 2020 | by Darren Paltrowitz


20 Great Books Worth Adding to Your Early 2021 Reading List

Few hobbies are more pandemic-proof or recession-proof than reading. Whether you prefer hardcovers or e-books, you can read just about anywhere. Many of us are still home-based, and below are 20 recommendations — all available for ordering online through Amazon and other top book-related retailers — for those seeking some new titles for their winter 2020 reading lists.

Liberty DeVitto’s LIBERTY: Life, Billy & The Pursuit Of Happiness

The long-awaited memoir by Billy Joel’s long-time drummer, who continues to be an in-demand drummer for live shows and recording sessions.

Rob Jovanovic’s Big Star: The Story Of Rock’s Forgotten Band

The “Revised & Updated” edition of what many consider to be the definitive biography of one of rock’s most influential bands, BigStar.

Greg Prato’s Shredders!: The Oral History Of Speed Guitar (And More)

A definitive look into some of rock’s top virtuoso guitarists, as penned by a prolific Long Island, New York-based author.

Paul Myers’ A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio

A well-researched look into Todd Rundgren’s innovations as a producer, including participation from Rundgren himself.

Billy F Gibbons’ Rock + Roll Gearhead

ZZ Top’s guitarist and frontman takes an in-depth look at his car and guitar collections with some biographical aspects to it.

Elizabeth Elkins, Brian Allison, Vanessa Olivarez’s Hidden History Of Music Row

The authors of this well-researched title focus on all facets of Nashville’s Music Row, offering never-before-seen photos of Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Kris Kristofferson and Shel Silverstein and exclusive interviews with multi-platinum songwriters and star performers.

Steven Hyden’s This Isn’t Happening: Radiohead’s “Kid A” & The Beginning Of The 21st Century

When Radiohead’s early 2000s album Kid A album first hit shelves, it was polarizing with pessimistic lyrics about the world’s future. 20 years later, wow, Radiohead seemed to know what was going to happen, and Steven Hyden explores that and plenty more within this highly-regarded book.

Peter Guralnick’s Looking To Get Lost: Adventures In Music & Writing

From the best-selling author of Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll and Last Train To Memphis: The Rise Of Elvis Presley comes a great new book of profiles by author Peter Guralnick.

Ian Nathan’s Wes Anderson: The Iconic Filmmaker & His Work

Undoubtedly one of the greatest filmmakers of the last 25 years, Ian Nathan takes an in-depth look into Wes Anderson’s extensive catalog within this wonderful-looking title from White Lion Publishing.

Peter Frampton & Alan Light’s Do You Feel Like I Do?: A Memoir

Respected by The Beatles, Eric Clapton, David Bowie and countless other legends, Peter Frampton is one of rock’s great guitarists and songwriters, and Do You Feel Like I Do? is his detailed, long-awaited memoir about all facets of his life.

Kim Bjørn’s PATCH & TWEAK With Moog

The book focuses extensively on all 5 Moog semi-modular analog synthesizers, and is the result of more than a year of collaboration with electronic music icons, established and emerging artists, and Moog employee-owners. It includes a foreword from acclaimed film score composer and sound designer Hans Zimmer.

Danny Zelisko’s All EXCE$$ – Occupation: Concert Promoter

4 years in the making, enjoy 350 pages bursting with stories and never before seen photos from the legendary concert promoter’s personal collection from over the years, as related to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, The Beatles and The Grateful Dead. Above is my November 2020 interview with Danny Zelisko for The Hype.

Michaelangelo Matos’ Can’t Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop’s Blockbuster Year

Michaelangelo Matos has written a definitive account of pop music in the mid-1980s, as inclusive of Prince, Madonna, underground hip-hop, indie rock and the club scenes.

Steven Jay Rubin’s The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia

This one is packed with behind-the-scenes information, fascinating facts, trivia, bloopers, classic quotes, character bios, cast and filmmaker biographies, and hundreds of rare and unusual photographs related to decades of James Bond productions.

Caroline Henrich’s A Very Lappy Christmas

Just in time for the holiday season of 2020, here is a wonderfully-written and beautifully-illustrated Christmas story for all ages, a heartwarming story with a message of love and hope.

Jamie Hall’s Alternative Alchemy: Recipes & Mindful Baking With CBD, Herbs & Adaptogens

A beautifully-illustrated collection of delicious and nutritious CBD-infused recipes which ought to satisfy both your soul and your appetite.

Rob Arnold’s The Terroir Of Whiskey: A Distiller’s Journey Into The Flavor Of Place

Within this book master distiller Rob Arnold reveals how innovative whiskey producers are recapturing a sense of place to create distinctive, nuanced flavors, taking readers on a world tour of whiskey and the science of flavor.

Doug Brod’s They Just Seem A Little Weird: How KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith & Starz Remade Rock & Roll

In They Just Seem a Little Weird, veteran entertainment journalist Doug Brod offers an eye-opening (and ear-opening) look at a crucial moment in music history when rock became fun again and a gig became a show. In the tradition of David Browne’s Fire & Rain and Sheila Weller’s Girls Like Us, They Just Seem A Little Weird seamlessly interweaves the narratives of KISS, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith with that of Starz, a criminally-neglected power-pop band which shared management with KISS.

Mickie Winkler’s Politics, Police & Other Earthling Antics

As a Mayor of Menlo Park, California — as well as a wife and mother — Mickie Winkler has wondered whether there is intelligent life on earth. Within in her new book, Politics, Police & Other Earthling Antics, Winkler presents a collection of 54 illustrated, short and irreverent anecdotes reflecting on the unique and baffling habits of ordinary people, police and politicians.

Editors of Chartwell Books’ My Mother’s Life: Mom, I Want To Know Everything About You

In My Mother’s Life, both thought-provoking and lighthearted writing prompts and guided exercises are organized into chapters based on your mother’s life stages to help her record her life’s memoir. Also within this excellent “Creative Keepsakes” series: 3,001 Questions All About Me, 301 Things To Draw, 301 Writing Ideas, Create Comics: A Sketchbook, Inner Me, Internet Password Book, My Father’s Life, My Grandmother’s Life, My Life Story, 3,001 This Or That Questions, My Grandfather’s Life, Create The Poem, Complete The Drawing Journal, Mom & Me Journal, Why I Love You Journal, Create The Story, and Destroy & Design This Journal.

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."

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