New Pop Culture Books: Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Planet of the Apes, D&D and More

Our picks. Click the links to order from Amazon.

On June 4, 1984, Columbia Records issued what would become one of the best-selling and most impactful rock albums of all time. An instant classic, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. would prove itself to be a landmark not only for the man who made it, but rock music in general and even the larger American culture over the next 40 years.  

In There Was Nothing You Could Do, veteran rock critic Steven Hyden shows exactly how this record became such a pivotal part of the American tapestry. Alternating between insightful criticism, meticulous journalism, and personal anecdotes, Hyden delves into the songs that made—and didn’t make—the final cut, including the tracks that wound up on its sister album, 1982’s Nebraska. He also investigates the myriad reasons why Springsteen ran from and then embraced the success of his most popular (and most misunderstood) LP, as he carefully toed the line between balancing his commercial ambitions and being co-opted by the machine.

But the book doesn’t stop there. Beyond Springsteen’s own career, Hyden explores the role the album played in a greater historical context, documenting not just where the country was in the tumultuous aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate, but offering a dream of what it might become—and a perceptive forecast of what it turned into decades later. As Springsteen himself reluctantly conceded, many of the working-class middle American progressives Springsteen wrote about in 1984 had turned into resentful and scorned Trump voters by the 2010s. And though it wasn’t the future he dreamed of, the cautionary warnings tucked within Springsteen’s heartfelt lyrics prove that the chaotic turmoil of our current moment has been a long time coming.

A chilling twist on the “cursed film” genre from the bestselling author of The Pallbearers Club and The Cabin at the End of the World.

In June 1993, a group of young guerilla filmmakers spent four weeks making Horror Movie, a notorious, disturbing, art-house horror flick.

The weird part? Only three of the film’s scenes were ever released to the public, but Horror Movie has nevertheless grown a rabid fanbase. Three decades later, Hollywood is pushing for a big budget reboot.

The man who played “The Thin Kid” is the only surviving cast member. He remembers all too well the secrets buried within the original screenplay, the bizarre events of the filming, and the dangerous crossed lines on set that resulted in tragedy. As memories flood back in, the boundaries between reality and film, past and present start to blur. But he’s going to help remake the film, even if it means navigating a world of cynical producers, egomaniacal directors, and surreal fan conventions—demons of the past be damned.

But at what cost? 

Horror Movie is an obsessive, psychologically chilling, and suspenseful feat of storytelling genius that builds inexorably to an unforgettable, mind-bending conclusion.

Authoritatively written and including rare photography and memorabilia, this beautiful slipcased hardcover is the only illustrated gift book to examine Prince’s most iconic album and film, Purple Rain.

In 1984, Prince, along with his band, The Revolution, released what would become his best-selling album and a touchstone of 1980s pop culture. Purple Rain has gone on to sell 25 million copies and counting. In Prince and Purple Rain, Andrea Swensson, a Minneapolis-based journalist and host/co-producer of Prince | Official Podcast, takes a deep dive into the legendary musician’s most famous album on its 40th anniversary.

On February 2, 1959, Waylon Jennings, bassist for his best friend, the rock star Buddy Holly, gave up his seat on a charter flight. Jennings joked that he hoped the plane, leaving without him, would crash. When it did, killing all aboard, on "the Day the Music Died," he was devastated and never fully recovered.
Jennings switched to playing country, creating the Outlaw movement and later forming the Highwaymen supergroup, the first in country music, with Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. The foursome battled addiction, record companies, ex-wives, violent fans, and the I.R.S. and D.E.A., en route to unprecedented mainstream success. Today, their acolytes Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Sturgill Simpson, and Taylor Swift outsell all challengers, and country is the most popular of all genres.
In this fascinating new book, Brian Fairbanks draws a line from Buddy Holly through the Outlaw stars of the 60s and 70s, all the way to the country headliners and more diverse, up-and-coming Nashville rebels of today, bringing the reader deep into the worlds of not only Cash, Nelson, Kristofferson, and Jennings but artists like Chris Stapleton, Simpson, Bingham, and Isbell, stadium-filling masters whose stories have not been told in book form, as well as new, diverse artists like the Highwomen, Brittney Spencer, and Allison Russell. Thought-provoking and meticulously researched, Willie, Waylon, and the Boys ultimately shows how a twenty-one-year-old bass-playing plane crash survivor helped changed the course of American music.

Debbie Harry defined iconic band Blondie’s look. Chris Stein―her performing partner, lover, and lifelong friend―was its architect and defined its sound. “Parallel Lines”, their third album, catapulted to #1, sold 20 million copies, and launched singles like “Heart of Glass”, "Hangin' On the Telephone," and “One Way or Another”, providing the beat when Bianca Jagger and Halston danced at Studio 54 and the soundtrack to every 1970’s punk-soundtracked romance.

Chris Stein knows how to tell a story. Under A Rock is his nothing-spared autobiography. It's about the founding of the band, ascending to the heights of pop success, and the hazards of fortune.

Twenty-three years after the publication of the critically acclaimed Planet of the Apes Revisited, authors Joe Russo, Larry Landsman and Edward Gross are back with the two-volume The Unofficial Oral History of the Planet of the Apes, a completely revised, thoroughly expanded definitive look at the world of the Apes from 1963 to the present.

These books are filled with hundreds of exclusive cast and crew interviews, unprecedented access to the archives of producer Arthur P. Jacobs, shooting schedules, rare photos and much more, all of which take you behind-the-scenes of the 10 films in the series and the two television shows they inspired, and presented in the actors and filmmakers’ own words.

Volume I covers 1963 to 1973, from the publication of Pierre Boulle’s original novel through the development process of the first film and, then, the comprehensive making of Planet, Beneath, Escape, Conquest and Battle.

In the latest issue of bare•bones, you will find:
  • William Schoell tunes into Science Fiction Theatre
  • An overlooked classic, No Grave for Us, reviewed by Bryan Kuriawa
  • Larry Blamire hits the front lines to experience Combat first hand
  • Curt Siodmak and His Dr. Patrick Cory Trilogy celebrated by Matthew R. Bradley
  • Peter Enfantino highlights the best of Pre-Code Horror in Adventures Into Terror
  • The Big Caper and Alfred Hitchcock Presents examined by Jack Seabrook
  • Peter Enfantino delivers another Six-Pack of Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine
  • It’s time for destination: Quentin Tarantino in Duane Swierczynski’s Field Guide to L.A. Pulp
  • S. Craig Zahler reviews some LitRPG . . . and more
  • Can you stand to see what Peter Enfantino has uncovered in Sleaze Alley?
  • Our very own David J. Schow portrayed Freddy Krueger — read all about it!
  • In space, no one can hear styrene, in John Scoleri’s Monster Gallery
EC Comics, under the guidance of publisher Bill Gaines, was--according to the editor of this collection--the greatest line of comics ever done. This once-in-a-lifetime Artist's Edition collects more than 140 EC covers by their best and brightest talents. The luminaries included in this gigantic (15 x 22 inches!) tome include:

Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, Graham Ingels, Al Williamson, Johnny Craig, Frank Frazetta, Jack Davis, Al Feldstein, and more! To make a baseball analogy, this is a Murderers Row every bit as noteworthy as the '27 Yankees!

One of the most exciting music trends in recent years has been the roaring resurgence of the vinyl record format. Enthusiasts worldwide now are rediscovering the magic of music — on cozy and (sometimes) crackly LPs.

Join author Christopher Long as he rummages through garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets along Florida’s sunny Space Coast (and beyond) in his pursuit of vinyl treasure — for "a song."

Based on his popular weekly column, Garage Sale Vinyl offers Long's lively analysis of his favorite seasoned album finds — enhanced by his personal feel-good stories and peppered with commentary from such famed music artists and celebrated media personalities as Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, comedian Jimmy Failla, and pop culture author Ken Sharp, as well as a personal foreword from Plush guitarist, Bella Perron.

In 2024, the enormously influential tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons—also known as D&D—celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. To mark the occasion, editors Premeet Sidhu, Marcus Carter, and José Zagal have assembled an edited collection that celebrates and reflects on important parts of the game’s past, present, and future. Each chapter in Fifty Years of Dungeons & Dragons explores why the nondigital game is more popular than ever—with sales increasing 33 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite worldwide lockdowns—and offers readers the opportunity to critically reflect on their own experiences, perceptions, and play of D&D.

Fifty Years of Dungeons & Dragons draws on fascinating research and insight from expert scholars in the field, including: Gary Alan Fine, whose 1983 book Shared Fantasy remains a canonical text in game studies; Jon Peterson, celebrated D&D historian; Daniel Justice, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture; and numerous leading and emerging scholars from the growing discipline of game studies, including Amanda Cote, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, and Aaron Trammell. The chapters cover a diverse range of topics—from D&D’s adoption in local contexts and classrooms and by queer communities to speculative interpretations of what D&D might look like in one hundred years—that aim to deepen readers’ understanding of the game.

Unpublished for more than 50 years, HOW LIKE A GOD is the earliest masterpiece by an author who would later be named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America and become world famous for creating one of the most enduring characters in the mystery genre.

In the shadowy stairwell of a New York City brownstone, a man stealthily begins to climb. In the pocket of his coat, a loaded revolver. At the top of the stairs, a woman he intends to kill. But who…?

This extraordinary novel by Rex Stout, the legendary creator of Nero Wolfe, is a psychological thriller like none you have ever read. As William Sidney climbs the stairs, you’ll dive deep into his troubled past, uncovering scandalous secrets and deceptions. And all the while, step by creeping step, he draws closer to a shocking act of violence…

Le Guin’s sharp and witty voice is on full display in this collection of twenty-four essays, revised by the author a decade after its initial publication in 1979. The collection covers a wide range of topics and Le Guin’s origins as a writer, her advocacy for science fiction and fantasy as mediums for true literary exploration, the writing of her own major works such as A Wizard of Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness, and her role as a public intellectual and educator. The book and each thematic section are brilliantly introduced and contextualized by Susan Wood, a professor at the University of British Columbia and a literary editor and feminist activist during the 1960s and ’70s.

A fascinating, intimate look into the exceptional mind of Le Guin whose insights remain as relevant and resonant today as when they were first published.

Robert E. Howard father of the "Sword and Sorcery" genre, built an entire world of fantasy and adventure. He peopled it with legendary heroes - including Conan the Cimmerian and Kull, the king of Valusia. While these are Howard's most famous creations, there are many others. SWORDS OF THE NORTH collects some of Howard's finest tales of Sword and Sorcery, including "Kings of the Night," "The Dark Man," "The Valley of the Worm," and more. Also collected in this volume are the complete tales and fragments of two of Howard's lesser-known characters: James Allison, who remembers his past lives as mythical warriors; and Cormac Mac Art, the leader of a band of Vikings during the reign of King Arthur.