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    25 Books Every Pop Culture Nerd Needs To Read

    Books for people who love to go ~behind the scenes.~

    Amy Sefton for BuzzFeed
    Amy Sefton for BuzzFeed

    1. The New Biographical Dictionary of Film: Updated and Expanded by David Thomson

    While you may not agree with all of film critic David Thomson's opinions, you can't argue with his selection of iconic films and the folks who make them happen. This is the ultimate movie reference guide and pretty much a necessity for any movie buff.

    2. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood by Peter Diskind

    This movie is all about the time in Hollywood when the phrase "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll" was actually invented. Equal parts film analysis and celeb gossip, this is a juicy read for anyone who misses or missed out on the '60s.

    3. Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System by Sharon Waxman

    '90s kids, unite! This is an examination of six badass directors — including Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, and Spike Jonze — who rose from the indie trenches near the turn of the century to fuck shit up in Hollywood.

    4. Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert by Roger Ebert

    A collection of the absolute best writing by one of the most admired film critics of all time? Yes, please!

    5. Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris

    "The New Hollywood" movement was all about the director saying F U to studios and making the movies they wanted to make. This deep dive through the five films nominated for Best Picture in 1967 illustrates a turning point in moviemaking and America at large.

    Amy Sefton for BuzzFeed

    6. The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers, and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever by Alan Sepinwall

    All hail the antihero. Sepinwell analyzes 12 TV dramas that quickly went from cult following to household names, and paved the way for a new breed of leading men (and women) as well as serial storytelling.

    7. The Ultimate South Park and Philosophy: Respect My Philosophah! by Robert Arp

    Any South Park fan could tell you the show is more than killing Kenny and making fun of people: It's actually meta AF. This book basically teaches you major theories in Western philosophy through the hilariousness of the show...which is awesome.

    8. Hollywood Said No!: Orphaned Film Scripts, Bastard Scenes, and Abandoned Darlings from the Creators of Mr. Show by Bob Odenkirk and David Cross

    If you enjoy laughing and you've never seen Mr. Show, you're doing yourself a disservice. This compilation of the absurd and kinda brilliant ideas Odenkirk and Cross came up with when the show ended will make fans of the duo LOL.

    9. Most Talkative: Stories From the Front Lines of Pop Culture by Andy Cohen

    Housewives addicts, this is the book for you. Enjoy behind-the-scenes Bravo gossip and a peek into the personal life of Andy Cohen, resident pop-culture king.

    10. Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

    How a show has managed to stay juicy, turbulent, and most importantly, relevant for over 40 years is certainly worth a read, no? No matter which cast is your fave, the escapades of each passing decade will keep you turning the pages.

    Amy Sefton for BuzzFeed

    11. Hip Hop Family Tree Book 1: 1970s-1981 by Ed Piskor

    This graphic novel follows the pioneers of hip-hop through 1970s New York as they hone their craft and develop their identities as black artists. It's the perfect history lesson for any music fan, and the saga continues in Vol. 2 and Vol. 3.

    12. Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music by Mark Baumgarten

    While you may not have heard of it, rest assured you can thank this label for everything from the grunge scene to the riot grrrl movement. K Records' motto pretty much says it all: You don't need anyone's permission to make music.

    13. Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen

    This book is particularly handy if all your info about Pussy Riot was from news headlines and political pundits. This is a super-thoughtful and fair-minded presentation of the band's history and how they became internationally infamous.

    14. Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records by Amanda Petrusich

    Who knew the quest for these rare relics of music was this fierce — and expensive? This is a great story that will make you think about how the way we listen to music has changed over the years.

    15. The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun by Robert Greenfield

    To say this guy had an ear for music is an understatement: He founded Atlantic Records and basically brought rock 'n' roll into the mainstream. Oh, and he had a hand in the careers of Bobby Darin, Eric Clapton, and Led Zeppelin, and tons of others. Not too shabby.

    Amy Sefton for BuzzFeed

    16. Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, A Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater by Michael Sokolove

    Riverhead / Via

    This book is described as "Friday Night Lights meets Glee": SOLD. It's about the dedicated director at an insanely talented performing arts school in a former steel town in Pennsylvania, and how his students go on to rule the drama world.

    17. Not Since Carrie: 40 Years of Broadway Musical Flops by Ken Mandelbaum

    Talk about schadenfreude: This book is all about musicals from 1950–90 that were total flops. But Mendelbaum does more than just shit on them; he's genuinely interested in figuring out why they failed, and in doing so, provides a super-insightful critique of Broadway and audiences alike.

    18. Fosse by Sam Wasson

    Bob Fosse is still the only person to ever win an Oscar Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award in the same year, and remains a force to be reckoned with. Learn about the dude who brought you Chicago through the eyes of friends, lovers, enemies, and colleagues.

    19. Strippers, Showgirls and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award by Peter Filichia

    As with almost any awards show, there will always be those who insist the nominees who didn't win were robbed. In addition to Felichia's hilariously wry insights, this book is an awesome stroll down Broadway's memory lane.

    20. Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein by Julie Salamon

    Wendy Wasserstein was a Broadway legend, Pulitzer Prize winner, and also a total sweetheart. But she hid heartbreaking personal tragedies, and this book explores how Wasserstein lived a performance as nuanced and thoughtful as her characters.

    Amy Sefton for BuzzFeed

    21. Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Pop Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter by Steven Johnson

    If your parents have ever criticized your Netflix obsession, tell them to read this book. Johnson argues that our pop culture is far from dumbed down, but is actually getting more sophisticated, making us use our brains in new and interesting ways.

    22. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman

    Klosterman is a semi-neurotic pop-culture nerd who can find existential meaning in everything from Billy Joel to the Celtics/Lakers rivalry. He does a great (and funny) job of reminding us that pop culture is still culture, and thus a reflection on all of us.

    23. Feminism and Pop Culture: Seal Studies by Andi Zeisler

    If feminism and pop culture were in a Facebook relationship, they'd absolutely be labeled "It's Complicated." Written by the co-founder of Bitch Media, this book reviews the two influential and intertwining forces from the 1940s onward.

    24. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

    Dating, amirite? Like almost everything else, it's only become more and more complicated as our technological and social options flourish. So comedian Ansari teamed up with a legit sociologist to try to figure out our new romantic world.

    25. So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

    With half our lives being lived online, it's become infinitely easier for all your mistakes and failures to be open to public judgment and mockery. Depressing stuff. But Ronson's exploration of the reactions to such public shaming reminds us that even in the anonymous online world, we're all still real people.

    Now go read a book.

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