Speaking Volumes: Celebrate John Lennon's legacy

Special to the HeraldDecember 8, 2013 

If you want a quick snapshot of a Beatles fan's personality, just ask them to name their favorite Beatle. Chances are the Paul McCartney fan is upbeat, optimistic and a little sentimental. The George Harrison admirer may be an introvert -- the strong, silent type who doesn't demand a big fuss. The Ringo Starr lover is probably easygoing, likeable, and maybe a bit of a goof.

And then there is John Lennon. Perhaps his fan is intellectual, a freethinker, edgy with a quick-wit and idealistic. Lennon was all these things, but he was also troubled, complicated and controversial. Those qualities and his untimely death on this day 33 years ago are reasons why there are so many books, articles and documentaries covering his life and music, and the Manatee County Libraries are brimming with such material.

"John Lennon: The Life" by Philip Norman, is one of the most recent and most comprehensive biographies of Lennon to date. With fresh and revealing information from new sources, this book covers just about every aspect of Lennon's brief life. A film biography called "Imagine" uses Lennon's own archival footage, his music, and his own voice to chronicle his fascinating life and work. "The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon" relays Lennon's publicly played-out search for Truth and his ultimate beliefs and philosophy. "John" by Lennon's first wife, Cynthia Lennon is an intimate portrait of the man as a Beatle, a husband, and father. It describes their life together and the aftermath of Lennon's scandalous departure from the family.

The relationships that had the most impact on Lennon's life are explored in books like "Two of Us: John Lennon & Paul McCartney Behind the Myth." This book by Geoffrey Giuliano documents the year by year rise and fall of the Lennon/McCartney partnership and friendship, offering insider information from Lennon and McCartney and from those who knew them best. "The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon & Yoko Ono" offers the complete texts of interviews conducted by David Sheff just two months before Lennon's death. Notably, it also includes Lennon's song-by-song analysis of his music.

Lennon was also a writer and accomplished doodler. "The Writings of John Lennon" is a compilation containing Lennon's eccentric prose and poetry as well as various drawings. Finally, the newly published "John Lennon Letters" offers a rare glimpse into the personality of this iconic figure. In the nearly 300 letters and postcards, Lennon displays his sensitivity, artistic prowess, and acid sense of humor.

Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Access the library online at www.mymanatee.org/library.html. Jyna Scheeren is a reference librarian and program coordinator.

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