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Back in the pre-digital days, we all kept batches of snapshots in shoe boxes, pulling them out occasionally to marvel at the memories, mainly interesting only to those involved. But when your shoe box has photos of someone wildly famous — and prematurely departed — it could be turn out to be revelatory.

Such is the case with May Pang’s shoe box full of images of her 18-month companionship with John Lennon. In her new, splendidly titled book, Instamatic Karma ($30, St. Martin’s Press), Pang (at right in 1974) shares pictures that had literally been closeted away since the mid-1970s. A recent piece in the New York Times pointed out Pang’s intent — to show that Lennon was not all depressed and unproductive during his “Lost Weekend” months with her — but the book itself weaves a complex portrait of Lennon’s time away from his wife Yoko, befitting a man of every-changing moods and contradictions.