1. 'Love Me Do! The Beatles' Progress,' by Michael Braun
The first, and what I'd maintain as the best, Beatles book is one even most Beatles fans are unaware of. Hasn't helped that it tends to dip out of print, but this is as close to a Beatles ride-along as you'll get, with American writer Michael Braun following the band at the end of 1963 and into the early phases of the U.S. invasion the following year. Lennon himself, in the Wenner book, singled out this one as better than the Davies, a true book that portrayed them as they were: as bastards, in his word. And, yeah, there's some of that. They make cracks at the expense of Jews, the disabled, gays. A lot of it is in a blow-off-steam kind of way, and Braun does a compelling job of conveying the non-stop pressure the group was under. In some ways they can't handle it, and sleep away huge amounts of time; in other ways, they do what they do, and write songs no one else could touch. The Beatle wit is depicted better here than in any other book, and if the four, and their patter, were in effect a hermetically sealed entity so designed as to better take on the world, this is your chance to crack the fold.