The Dream Factory: Fender Custom Shop
Tom Wheeler
Hal Leonard Corporation
Street: 09.01.11
I’m conflicted about how I feel about this book. On the one hand, it’s almost 600 pages of the sexiest guitars in the world. On the other, it’s a book about the internal workings of the Fender Custom Shop and its employees, from the mid-’80s to the present. Don’t get me wrong, I have enormous respect for the artists who create these beautiful guitars. It’s just that the stories of them working and building the shop weren’t enough to hold my interest for that kind of page count. But goddamn, are those guitars pretty. There are some gems mixed in here about famous artists and the guitars they custom ordered, but it’d be nice if there were more of that. It’s expensive ($75), but if you’re looking for a nice coffee table book with plenty of guitar eye candy, pick this one up. –Johnny Logan

How To Sharpen Pencils
David Rees
Melville House
Street: 04.10
David Rees might be taking his new book too seriously. You see, kids, Rees is a political cartoonist, or, according to his new promotional website for the book,, he “used to be a political cartoonist.” The premise being that Rees has quit his job and taken up pencil sharpening professionally. You can even order an “artisanally sharpened pencil,” complete with a signed and dated certificate of authentication, for $15 from the website—from every page of the website. The book itself is exactly as the title indicates, instructing readers on both the “practical and theoretical” aspects of sharpening a pencil. Though there is plenty of humor throughout, How To Sharpen Pencils begins to get repetitive and loses its comical steam well before the halfway point. While it might make a nice novelty gift, this book is not wish-list material by any means. –Johnny Logan

Maximum Rad: The Iconic Covers of Thrasher Magazine
Thrasher Magazine
Street: 02.21
In 1981, some Norcal skate cretins sought to create the ultimate skate rag, a dirt-in-the-nails, seat-of-the-drawers tome written exlusively for (and by) skate rats. Sure, contenders have stepped up (Transworld censors, Big Brother’s rotting in Larry Flynt’s porn locker and SLAP’s just a n00b trolling website now), but unless you’re still pushin’ mongo, you know that Thrasher’s the only one of ’em that really matters (Balma didn’t coin the term “Skate and Destroy,” did he?). Thrasher’s always been on that real shit: lingo, inside jokes, boneheads, pool pushers and unsung raw-dogs, and this heady collection of covers only solidifies the deal. It’s virtually impossible to narrow down, but some personal favs include January ’82 (Mike Smith strapped in cholo khakis and Vans high-tops), June ’85 (Cab with dreads), March ’87 (Jeff Phillips whoops Tony Hawk whilst trippin’ balls), February ’91 (Ed Templeton sez “NC-17 means ‘No Crybabies!’”), May ’94 (Gonz asks “Hey, do I look like a street skater?”) and September ’94 (at war with Satan). Plus a heaping mound o’ word turds and commentaries by all the heads that make this “sport” the greatest, and you’ve got an essential slab of skate history right at your grubby, grip-raw fingertips. All hail Cardiel, Fausto and Shao, rest in power, Jake Phelps for president. You know the drill. –Dylan Chadwick
Seeing The Light: Inside the Velvet Underground
Rob Jovanovic
St. Martin’s Press
Street: 03.27
If you don’t know that much about the Velvet Underground, but you’ve heard of Lou Reed and the band’s connection with Andy Warhol, then this book can be a great tool to learn about the group’s history. If you already know about Reed being a control freak and kicking John Cale out of the band, or you actually know who Doug Yule is—then this book probably won’t reveal anything shocking or new. Jovanovic keeps the spotlight in Reed’s direction for the most part, which makes the book feel like a biography at times, such as the opening chapter in which he describes Reed in an experience that seems like it came straight out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The only time I felt the book veered off course was when Jovanovic needlessly continued to go on about the band after Reed and all of the original members had left. Seeing the Light is a good place to start for folks new to the VU, and is still an enjoyable read for those already familiar with the band’s history. –Jory Carroll