Chris Willman
February 06, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

The 40th anniversary of the Beatles’ touchdown in America has occasioned a couple of hardcover odes to joy — a description especially applicable in the case of Martin Goldsmith, who, as XM satellite radio’s classical music director, isn’t one to order Beethoven to roll over. His THE BEATLES COME TO AMERICA (Wiley, $19.95) is part memoir and part musicology lesson, but mostly it’s a breezily intelligent band biography that just happens to terminate with the historic ’64 Ed Sullivan appearances…making it perhaps the first serious Beatles history to have a truly happy ending. Any fairy-tale aspects of the Fabs’ ascent surely aren’t lost on Peter Smith, either. The novelist’s nonfiction detour, TWO OF US: The Story of a Father, a Son, and the Beatles (Houghton Mifflin; $23), amusingly and movingly recounts how an iciness in his relationship with his 7-year-old son was broken by the lad’s sudden, all-consuming Beatles fixation, even after the kid moved on to other boyish pursuits like SpongeBob and Chopin. This gem of a book isn’t strictly for parents or Beatlemaniacs: Smith makes a great larger case for how our pop-culture obsessions can really represent a nobler desire to connect with our fellow islands — er, human beings. Read either of these and you may just want to hold somebody’s hand.

You May Like