Picks and Pans Review: Best Rock and Roll Books

updated 09/01/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/01/2003 01:00AM

Who says rockers can't read? Well, a lot of people, actually. So prove them wrong. Pick up one of the great nonfiction works that get under the skin of that crazy little thing called rock. For those about to read, we salute you.

•FARGO ROCK CITY by Chuck Klosterman. Klosterman proves a head-banging bard in his irresistible debut, a memoir about how Mötley Crüe, Van Halen and other turn-it-up-to-11 bands changed his life. It'll stick to you like the decal on a black concert T-shirt. (Touchstone, $14)

•CARELESS LOVE: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick. Fans quibble over whether skinny or fat Elvis made a better story, but we'll go with the second volume of Guralnick's heartbreaking biography, a document of what drugs and Las Vegas did to the man. (Back Bay, $17.95)

•PSYCHOTIC REACTIONS AND CARBURETOR DUNG by Lester Bangs. Mythologized in the film Almost Famous, the critic, who died at 34 of a drug overdose, wrote like Janis Joplin sang. This manic anthology is dated but fun. (Vintage, $16)

•SHOUT! The Beatles in Their Generation by Philip Norman. Hype-free writing presents their magical mystery tour in a classic bio. (Fireside, $14)

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