I stumbled upon the 33 1/3 books series purely by accident. I was in an independent bookstore looking for a good magazine to kill some time, and there they were: stacked in a neat line, their spines calling out to me. Meat is Murder, Unknown Pleasures, One Step Beyond… Those familiar phrases, which made perfect sense on my CD rack, seemed gleefully out of context in this environment. Or were they? Published by Continuum Books, the 33 1/3 series redefines the concept of a classic book. With upwards of 50 titles going deep into albums from Sonic Youth to Slayer, 33 1/3 doesn’t discriminate: Let’s Talk About Love (A Journey to the End of Taste) examines the essence of Celine Dion, and is one of the series’ bestsellers. I picked up the pocket-sized Pixies and Joy Division books, and would gladly return for Magnetic Fields and My Bloody Valentine.
In this digital age where liner notes are a thing of antiquity, words fail to convey how sublime and subversive an entire paperback book about one’s favorite album truly is. The books are also well-written and compelling stories. Once I’m done with my favorites, I’ll venture off into new territory. You can order the 33 1/3 series at Continuum’s website for $10.95 each here.The books have a dedicated blog where submissions for 2009 titles just ended. Potentials include everything from Jane’s Addiction to Young Jeezy. Somewhere out there, a Klaus Nomi fan is stoked.