There's a piece in the new issue of Tape Op magazine, which calls the series "music writing done right" and concludes with this analysis of J. Niimi's R.E.M. book:
J. Niimi's book on R.E.M.'s Murmur, one of my all time favorite albums, gets it just about perfect. The book begins with a brief history of the band up to the point of recording Murmur. Next is a detailed account of the recording sessions for the album, with lots of interviews with Mitch Easter and Don Dixon. Next is a track-by-track analysis of the album. This is followed by Niimi's own experiences upon first hearing Murmur, providing the historical and cultural context of the time, which leads to a discussion of what is meant by the term "Southern Gothic." Finally, an examination of the lyrics and Michael Stipe's use of language concludes the book. I've read a few other books on the band and this album, but I still found this to be insightful and a great read.