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Publisher's Summary

Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone columnist and best-selling author of Love Is a Mix Tape, offers an entertaining, unconventional look at the most popular band in history, the Beatles, exploring what they mean today and why they still matter so intensely to a generation that has never known a world without them.

Dreaming the Beatles is not another biography of the Beatles or a song-by-song analysis of the best of John and Paul. It isn't another exposé about how they broke up. It isn't a history of their gigs or their gear. It is a collection of essays telling the story of what this ubiquitous band means to a generation who grew up with the Beatles' music on their parents' stereos and their faces on T-shirts. What do the Beatles mean today? Why are they more famous and beloved now than ever? And why do they still matter so much to us, nearly 50 years after they broke up?

As he did in his previous books, Love Is a Mix Tape, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, and Turn Around Bright Eyes, Sheffield focuses on the emotional connections we make to music. This time he focuses on the biggest pop culture phenomenon of all time - The Beatles. In his singular voice, he explores what the Beatles mean today to fans who have learned to love them on their own terms and not just for the sake of nostalgia.

Dreaming the Beatles tells the story of how four lads from Liverpool became the world's biggest pop group then broke up - but then somehow just kept getting bigger. At this point their music doesn't belong to the past; it belongs to right now. This book is a celebration of that music, showing why the Beatles remain the world's favorite thing - and how they invented the future we're all living in today.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 Rob Sheffield (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

Featured Article: Turn Up the Volume—These Are the Best Listens for Music Fans


There’s nothing quite like the electricity that flows through the crowd at a concert: from the moment the lights come up on stage to the amazing sense of communal energy, it’s an experience unlike any other. So it's been a painful few months for fans, musicians, and venues as the pandemic upended album releases, festivals, concert tours, and other events. These listens offer a much-needed dose of the rhythm, artistry, and melodies you might be missing.

What listeners say about Dreaming the Beatles

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Wonderful ramble

This isn't so much a history of the Beatles as a loosely chronological collection of essays. It's engaging, well-informed, and highly opinionated; it covers the group, the individuals in the group, the music, why many of the songs are brilliant but a few are rubbish, and why and how the world bowed down in homage. If you're a Beatles fan, get it. If you're a Stones fan, get it too - you'll find some useful information here.

Sheffield does a great job narrating his own book, with one exception. His occasional attempt at a British accent (usually in a quote from a Beatle) is pretty bad. Aside from that, he's one of the best writers-as-narrator I've heard. His passion for the subject comes through in his voice.

5 people found this helpful

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If you love The Beatles, this is a fun read!

Are you a Beatlemaniac? Listen to them every week? Taught your kids The Beatles? Think The Beatles? Then this is your book. Fun, insightful, educational, arguable and more. Wonderful narration by the author. Love to John, Paul, George and Ringo (and George Martin).

2 people found this helpful

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Enjoyed it so much I bought it again

Loved it. Fascinating structure, full of interesting details. I loved the audiobook and, when I finished, bought the hardcover so I'd be able to thumb through it at my leisure.

1 person found this helpful

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Pop Storytelling Standout

If you are like me, especially on this 50th Anniversary of Sgt Pepper, you've read some, possibly many books on my favorite subject, The Beatles. And like the escape they provided in the early 60's after the Kennedy assassination and since, this book and the journey it provides functioned as yet another escape in these most difficult political times. Worth spending time together.

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Faded toward the end

I really enjoyed the first half, three quarters of the book. I learned a lot and will looking for the boots he speaks of. Minus one star for saying at one point Dylan was trying to keep up with the Beatles and for the comment on Neil Youngs’s Tonight’s The Night.

2 people found this helpful

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Best Beatle Book Out There

Usually, we only see the Beatles from the front. They shake their heads on stage and we sing along to the “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”s. Rob takes us behind the stage, inside each Beatle, and pretty much anywhere else you could think of as he weaves a story about the men we thought we knew and the Beatle fans we thought we were.


Thank you, Rob.

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Not for Diehard Beatle fFans

The author admits that he was not yet born by the time the Beatles broke up. He has put a book together with facts we are already aware of and adds pithy little comments using the titles to songs strung together to have meaning. Supercilious in my opinion. He even gives his opinion as to what was Paul’s worst song and also John’s. He dismisses Ringo entirely and George also. If you want a great book about our favorite four lads…….it would be “Shout” by Philip Norman. Best book I have read about the Beatles. Extremely well written. I bought the hardback as a collectible.

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A Worthwhile Mlx

The first five minutes sound like a book report by a clever Sixth-grader, but it soon becomes an entertaining and informational treat, containing much that is either new or a fresh opinion about some event. While I disagree with Sheffield on some opinions and interpretations, this is an excellent discussion by a fan and Amanda who knows music and performers. Well done.

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Fascinating, meaningful, and well-written

I really enjoyed this book. The content is absolutely top-notch, and the writer is extremely skilled. His (writing) voice is distinctive and always interesting. He really opened up the subject for me. I learned a great deal about the Beatles and what they mean to us today. It was a fascinating investigation and discussion.

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New perspectives on a beloved topic

I grew up on the Beatles, even saw them live when I was seven, so was curious to see what a Gen X reviewer would have to say. The answer was plenty. The author is a fan (although a Paul Boy and I am decidedly a John Girl) who first heard them long after they broke up, and that perspective offers some insights I am too close to see. The chapter on the scream and girl groups opened up a new window. His hits on each one individually were fun -- I was happy to see Ringo get his due. This was a perfect listen in these dark Covid days and I found myself pausing periodically and listening to the song or album discussed, listening both in the new context and also revisiting old friends. This was time well spent.