Fifty years ago—on February 9, 1964—John, Paul, George and Ringo appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The Beatles are to songwriting what Shakespeare is to playwriting. Second place (sorry, Rolling Stones and Eugene O’Neill) is far behind. But the Why Not 100 is a blog about books. So I wondered: How can I inject my Beatlemania into an eclectic look at literature? Easy, actually. I’ve found 64 Beatles songs that can be found as book titles.
And I didn’t even use When I’m Sixty-Four: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them.
You see, I gave myself some rules. First, no books about the Beatles themselves. Among those options are titles like Strawberry Fields Forever, Love Me Do, You Never Give Me Your Money, The Ballad of John and Yoko, Can’t Buy Me Love, Carry That Weight, Fixing a Hole, Please Please Me, Eight Days a Week, A Hard Day’s Night, Glass Onion, and I Me Mine. I also decided not to include illustrated song lyrics like Octopus’s Garden and Yellow Submarine.
Second, no nonfiction. As much as I love the genre, I wanted to keep it to novels—and the occasional short story collection, comic book tale, or picture book. As you can imagine, there are a whole bunch of marital self-help books called We Can Work It Out. And a few inspiring true-life tales called With a Little Help From my Friends. I could go on. In fact, I will:
Back in the USSR is the true story of rock in Russia. Her Majesty is the story of Queen Elizabeth. I’ll Follow the Sun is a global travel memoir. Here Comes the Sun details a family’s journey through cancer. Blackbird is a young woman’s memoir. Dig It is a nonfiction children’s picture book about construction vehicles. Come and Get It is subtitled The Saga of Western Dinnerware. Getting Better is an inside account of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m Looking Through You is a memoir about growing up in a haunted house. Lady Madonna is about… well, Madonna. Oh, and remember I Want to Tell You? That’s O.J. Simpson’s post-trial pseudo mea culpa.
Still, the list of Fab Four fiction is eclectic. Across the Universe is science fiction (naturally). All Together Now is a young adult zombie apocalypse tale. Baby, You’re a Rich Man is an illustrated novel set in Japan. All You Need is Love is (again, naturally) a romance novel. Sexy Sadie is erotic romance.
In fact, it turns out that the list includes a lot of romance—that and postapocalyptic stories. But there are also efforts from the likes of Stephen King and Douglas Coupland. And there are a good many more Beatles song titles that should be titles of novels. I mean, someone should write a romantic novel called Oh! Darling! Or a sci-fi adventure called One After 909. Maybe a picture book called Rocky Raccoon. Or a YA novel called You’re Going to Lose That Girl. Or a thriller called She Came in Through the Bathroom Window. Or even a dystopian story ironically titled Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da.
Until then, here—ranked in order of song preference—are 64 Fab Four fictions, along with brief descriptions:
1. All You Need is Love (Marie Force)
When Cameron Murphy heads to Vermont to build a website for a new client, she imagines a more relaxing trip than she gets. After wrecking her car by colliding with the town moose, she meets the most handsome hero she’s ever seen.
2. Come Together (Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees)
Amy Crosbie can’t read his mind. Jack Rossiter can’t read hers. But you can read both…
3. Dear Prudence (Amanda Grieme)
Ana is plagued by confusion due to her bipolar/schizo-affective disorder. With her secrets recorded in unsent letters stored in her coveted backpack, she feels that the only way to let her loved ones live life to the fullest is to take herself out of the equation.
4. Help! (Holly Keller)
Mouse, Hedgehog, Rabbit, Squirrel, and Snake are friends. But one day Mouse hears from Skunk (who heard it from Fox) that snakes are dangerous, especially to mice. Oh, dear! Can friendship survive gossip? Should friends stick together, no matter what?
5. I Want to Hold Your Hand (Stephanie Blackburn)
On a frigid February night in New Hampshire the car Penny is riding in loses control and crashes passenger-side first into a tree. When she wakes up the next morning she can’t understand why her mother and sister are ignoring her, until she accidentally sticks her hand through her mother and remembers the night before.
6. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Deborah Grabien)
With the tour over, guitarist JP Kinkaid is sitting in as second guitarist for a new CD by his longtime local friends, the Bombardiers. A few weeks into the sessions, frontman Vinny Fabiano is found dead in the Bombardiers’ rehearsal space, smashed over the head with a custom guitar.
7. Hello Goodbye (Emily Chenoweth)
In the winter of 1990, Helen Hansen–counselor, wife, and mother in the prime of her life–is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The following August, she and her family take a trip to northern New Hampshire, where Helen will be able to say goodbye to a lifetime of friends.
8. Revolution (Jennifer Donnelly)
From the privileged streets of modern Brooklyn to the heart of the French Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love.
9. A Day in the Life (Robert Greenfield)
The story of how the ideal marriage between two young and extraordinarily beautiful members of the English upper class fell apart as the psychedelic dreams of the sixties gave way to the harsh, hard-rock reality of the seventies.
10. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (Prodromos E. Atlamazoglou)
Lucy Vega is a student obsessed with playing the online game Diamonds. When she starts seeing augmented reality graphics in her field of vision during her everyday life and she can't log on her game account, she embarks on a quest to find out what's going on.
11. Penny Lane (Jaci Byrne)
Twenty-two-year-old Anna Jackson moved to London in order to make something of her life. She's on her way. In her last year of fashion design, Anna can see a bright future ahead. There is only one problem: her boyfriend, Barney, doesn't seem to share her ambitions.
12. Baby, You’re a Rich Man (Christopher Bundy)
The story of Kent Richman, a down-on-his luck, B-level variety star on Japanese television who is forced to go into hiding when he becomes the target of an escaped prisoner.
13. Paperback Writer (Richard Taylor)
Freelance Writer Hack Wilson’s fictional '40s-era female private eye Nikki Sapphire is jarred loose from his schizo consciousness by assassins. Now it's up to reporter Kate Alexander to save Hack's butt as they're pursued across contemporary San Francisco by killers.
14. Your Mother Should Know (Paul Alan Fahey)
In late April 1992, Philip accompanies his mother to Los Angeles for her monthly treatment. When he accidentally takes a wrong turn off the freeway, all hell breaks loose. Suddenly they find themselves in the center of the Rodney King riots.
15. I Am the Walrus (Nabil Shaban)
The world believes it was Mark Chapman who killed John Lennon...but Broadmoor psychiatric patient, Charlie Markham, a little man in a wheelchair, knows he, Charlie was the real killer, even though he was Lennon's "Number One Fan".
16. Happiness is a Warm Gun (Josh Covington)
A washed up detective searches for a killer across a small town while running from his own demons and sleeping with only a rusty Smith and Wesson for comfort. Will he be able to find the culprit before the trail goes cold, or has the hunter now become the hunted?
The story of Liz, a self-described drab, overweight, crabby, and friendless middle-aged woman, and her unlikely reunion with the charming and strange son she gave up for adoption.
18. Two of Us (Barbara Bonardi)
A fast-paced, fictional fantasy weaving fact and fiction into a compelling story about Magdelina's last attempt at finding her identical twin, a twin that doesn't know she exists.
19. Nowhere Man (Aleksandar Hemon)
A native of Sarajevo, where he spends his adolescence trying to become Bosnia’s answer to John Lennon, Jozef Pronek comes to the United States in 1992—just in time to watch war break out in his country, but too early to be a genuine refugee.
20. Drive My Car (Megan Slayer)
Real estate magnate Miles Hornish wants one person to share his wealth, his bed and his platinum handcuffs. No one seems to fit the bill—except his limo driver, Fynn. But Miles has issues in his past. Will Fynn be enough to help Miles overcome his past?
21. Yesterday (Fern Michaels)
Rich, spoiled Callie Parker lies in a coma on the eve of what was to have been her lavish society wedding.
22. I Feel Fine (Richard Marshall)
Samantha and Eric had been friends since university. When the world disintegrates and the dead start fighting back, they're thrown together to try and build a whole new world.
23. Day Tripper (K.L. Taylor)
A collection of short stories offering wry observations on contemporary life.
24. Ticket To Ride (Ed Gorman)
1965: Sam McCain must solve the murder of two old friends against the backdrop of America’s cultural revolution.
25. The Sun King (David Ignatius)
Sandy Galvin is a billionaire with a rare talent for taking risks and making people happy. He arrives in a Washington suffering under a cloud of righteous misery and proceeds to turn the place upside down.
26. She Loves You (Elaine Segal)
If at first glance it appears to be a children's book--it's a quick read, and every page is illustrated by artist Lance Richbourg—it's not, quite...the narrator acknowledges achieving a "flawed peace" with Dad, which she still hopes to perfect.
27. Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami)
This account of a young man's sentimental education sometimes reads like a cross between Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and Stephen Vizinczey's In Praise of Older Women.
28. Don’t Pass Me By (Julie McGowan)
1940: London is about to be ravaged by the Blitz. For Lydia the last beating is the final straw. She has to escape from her husband, and when a gas explosion rips their house apart she flees, taking baby Grace with her.
29. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Andy Rivers)
After Billy Reeves had survived a poverty ridden and violent childhood on a council estate in Newcastle he thought he had it all; a loving family, money and respect but a face from the past with a point to prove and muscles to flex is out to bring his world crashing down on him.
Teenage Helen and her friend Colette entertain hopes of escaping their lives in Liverpool through going to college. But Helen's family and their desire to keep her with them inhibit her, and when she meets a handsome American serviceman, she is forced to confront some awkward realities.
Lee Reynolds, a discontented veteran federal wildlife officer, gets recruited by a mysterious German to help a secret eco-terrorist group that steals from environmentally negligent corporations and distributes the wealth to benefit conservation.
32. I Want You (Lisa Hanawalt)
Lisa Hanawalt's comic book debut tackles interspecies romance, freeway accidents, bug sex, and animal obsessions with a sense of humor equally sophisticated and crass.
33. All Together Now (Robert Kent)
Fifteen-year-old Ricky Genero is writing a journal of the zombie apocalypse. His high school has burned to the ground, his friends are all either dead or shambling corpses roaming the earth in search of human flesh, and his best friend died saving his six-year-old brother Chuck from a zombie horde. When Chuck is bitten and infected with the zombie virus, Ricky must travel among the walking dead in search of a cure.
34. The Night Before (Lisa Jackson)
The next morning, Caitlyn Montgomery Bandeaux wakes covered in blood. But Caitlyn has no memory of the night before, when her estranged husband was brutally murdered like so many others she has known.
35. Why Don’t We Do It In the Road (Roger Stevens)
In this full-length comic campus novel, Chas joins Coventry College of Art as a sculpture student with friends Rich and Bob. A hilarious account of their attempts to create original art amid the ‘anything goes’ atmosphere of the late 1960s.
36. Do You Want to Know a Secret? (Mary Jane Clark)
New York TV anchorwoman Eliza Blake has a past to hide. Her popular co-anchor has a scandal he'd die to keep secret. The next President's pretty wife wants desperately to avoid indecent exposure. A parish priest knows a terrible truth. And a killer has a secret agenda that reaches from New York City's streets to the White House.
37. Here, There, and Everywhere (Mira Tweti)
The story of a wild parrot named Sreeeeeeeet who is trapped in the rainforest of New Guinea and later sold by a pet store in New York City to a little boy named Peter.
38. Fool on the Hill (Matt Ruff)
In the world of Fool on the Hill, dogs and cats can talk, a subculture of sprites lives in the shadows, and the Bohemians, a group of Harley- and horseback-riding students dedicated to all things unconventional, hold all-night revels for the glory of their cause.
39. From Me to You (Anthony France)
Poor Rat, his friends haven’t called in ages. He sits in his bathrobe all day and does nothing but sip cold tea. Then a mysterious letter arrives in a bright yellow envelope, and everything changes.
40. Girl (Blake Nelson)
Meet Andrea Marr, straight-A high school student, thrift-store addict, and princess of the downtown music scene. Andrea is about to experience her first love, first time, and first step outside the comfort zone of high school.
41. Across the Universe (Beth Revis)
Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed. She and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, cryo chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged, and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber.
42. Tell Me What You See (Zoran Drvenkar)
Berlin, Christmas, the dead of night: 16-year-old Alissa and her best friend, Evelin, are making their annual secret pilgrimage to the grave of Alissa's father when Alissa falls through thick snow to land in an underground crypt. There she finds a child's casket...with a strange black plant growing up through its lid. Opening the coffin, she severs the dark growth from its roots—and discovers they are embedded in the heart of the dead child.
43. Sexy Sadie (Don Draco)
Sexy Sadie finds an old friend she used to dream about being with after losing track of him for years. Their friendship is quickly rekindled as are their romantic feelings for each other.
44. Run for Your Life (James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge)
A calculating killer who calls himself The Teacher is taking on New York City, killing the powerful and the arrogant.
45. Helter Skelter (Bryan Cassiday)
Evildoers—zombies, vampires, and other wicked creatures—run riot across the sun-drenched Southern California landscape in these shocking horror short stories.
46. Rain (V.C. Andrews)
One fateful night, Rain overhears something she shouldn't: a heartbreaking revelation from the past, a long-buried secret that is about to change her life in ways she never could have imagined.
47. The Long and Winding Road (Jeffrey Hoy)
The first to die were the lucky ones. The collapse of society was horrendous—impoverished masses revolted, unpaid soldiers mutinied, and starving parents sold their children into slavery. Nuclear suns bloomed here and there, and a man-made winter gripped the world.
Meet Leslie Andrews, a wry, sensitive teenager dealing with her mother’s suicide, a sudden move, and an unrequited love for ex-Beatle George Harrison.
49. Honey Pie (Donna Kauffman)
When Honey D'Amourvell inherits property on tiny Sugarberry Island, she's prepared to start a whole new life. Her plan is simple –make a home, open a shop, and maybe, finally, find a place to belong.
50. Tell My Why (Stella Cameron)
World-famous jazz pianist Carolee Burns isn't even 30 when her professional success is overshadowed by the collapse of her personal life. After 10 years of marriage, her freeloading husband, Kip, suddenly dumps her and wins full custody of their 11-year-old daughter.
51. She Said, She Said (Celeste and Jennifer Norfleet)
On the last day of school, Tamika's boyfriend dumps her, her best friend moves away and she's forced to go on a lame mother-daughter trip to her grandmother's house. When they arrive, her mother is suddenly acting like she's trying out for Moms Gone Wild.
52. Free as a Bird (Gina McMurchy-Barber)
Born with Down syndrome, Ruby Jean Sharp comes from a time when being a developmentally disabled person could mean growing up behind locked doors. When Ruby Jean's caregiver and loving grandmother dies, her mother takes her to Woodlands School in New Westminster, British Columbia, a terrifying institution originally called the Provincial Lunatic Asylum.
53. The Inner Light (Henry Porada)
The Inner Light is a heart-warming story about a lively young boy, grieving the loss of his loving grandfather. Driven by a divine message and an unusual gift he receives, Jimmy begins searching for answers and comes to understand that no one is alone in their sorrow.
54. Hold Me Tight (Lorie Ann Grover)
"I'm leaving." Dad's words come as a complete shock to Essie. How can he just walk out on her and the family, especially when Mom is pregnant?
55. I Need You (Hazel St. James)
Sara Lonneman is home in Wisconsin and finds herself falling for Darrin, the protective, strong, ex-military man that has been her salvation for the last desolate year of her life. But Darrin might have more demons inside him then she can handle.
56. Real Love (Celya Bowers)
Breaking off her very public engagement to Thorndyke Patterson was the smartest thing Josie Manning ever did. It was also the dumbest thing she ever did.
57. P.S., I Love You (Cecilia Ahern)
Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry. Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other's sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other. Until the unthinkable happens.
58. The Word (Irving Wallace)
A momentous archeological discovery—and the immediate effect it has on the varied group of men and women whose lives are intimately touched and altered by it—is at the heart of this exciting novel.
59. Misery (Stephen King)
After an automobile accident, novelist Paul Sheldon meets his biggest fan. Annie Wilkes is his nurse-and captor. Now, she wants Paul to write his greatest work-just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don't work, she can get really nasty.
60. I Call Your Name (Virginia Young)
College text book editor Breeda Flynn lives with her deceased aunt's cat on Martha's Vineyard. Along with the house, she has inherited memories of incidents which happened sixteen years earlier, including the disappearance of Breeda's first love and the brutal death of his mother.
61. Words of Love (Hazel Hunter)
Graduate student Jessica Riley can hardly believe her good fortune. After years in the library, she’s finally working in the ruins of the ancient Maya. Not only is it a dream come true but she finds herself secluded in the heart of the Guatemalan jungle with a handsome archaeologist.
62. Maggie Mae (Sandy Wolters)
July 4th 2005, Maggie Mae's wedding day was the happiest day of her life, the most painful day of her life, and the day she died three times.
63. Piggies (Audrey Wood)
Children will delight in the antics of ten marvelous little piggies who romp from fingers to toes in this original bedtime fantasy.
64. The End (G. Michael Hopf)
North America, Europe and the Far East have all suffered a devastating Super-EMP attack, which causes catastrophic damage to the nation’s power grid and essential infrastructures. Everything from cell phones to cars to computers cease to function, putting society at a standstill. With civilization in chaos, Gordon Van Zandt must fight for the limited and fast dwindling resources.