Book: Love Is A Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
Published: Three Rivers Press, 2007
Genre: Non-fiction/ Memoir
Pages: 219 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon
Summary (from book jacket): Mix tapes: We all have our favorites. Stick one into a deck, press play, and you're instantly transported to another time in your life. For Rob Sheffield, that time was one of miraculous love and unbearable grief. A time that spanned seven years, it started when he met the girl of his dreams., and ended when he watched her die in his arms. Using the listings of fifteen of his favorite mix tapes, Rob shows that the power of music to build a bridge between people is stronger than death. You'll read these words, perhaps surprisingly, with joy in your heart and a song in your head- the one that comes to mind when you think of the love of your life.
My thoughts: Even before I picked up Love Is A Mix Tape, I knew that I was really going to love it. Music has always been one of my biggest interests, so when I first heard about this memoir and the way Sheffield weaves the story of finding and losing the love of his life with some of his favorite tunes, I was siked. It took me far too long to get my hands on a copy and then actually read it. It's a short book, just over 200 pages, and all of the pop culture references make it a fun and relatable story. I often found myself saying "YES! I loved that song!" or "OMG, I totally know what he means!" Their love for baseball and the Red Sox also had me just loving them as a couple.
My boyfriend and I met in a Psychology class in college. One of the first connections we had was through music. The first time we hung out outside of class, I took him to my car and went through all of my CDs, giving him anything he didn't already have. Our first Christmas together, we both unknowingly made mix CDs for each other and continued making mixes for each other that often had many of the same songs on them. Finding someone that can share my love of music has always been something I dreamed of, so to see that in a couple like Rob Sheffield and his late wife, Renee, really made my heart happy. It was touching to read about love from a man's point of view. He describes Renee with such affection, it's plain to see he was head over heels for her from the day they met. I loved this quote he used to describe her, "She was in the middle of everything, living her big, messy, epic life, and none of us who loved her will ever catch up with her".
Another thing I loved about this book was Sheffield's description of mix tapes and the desire to share music with others. As a kid, when I was not reading or out playing with my friends in the neighborhood, I was in my room listening intently to the radio, waiting for songs I liked so I could tape them off the radio and make my own mix tapes. I wore out my old stereo doing that kind of thing. I used to keep a notebook where I wrote down what number each song was every week during Kasey Kasem's top 40 countdown. I would use my parents 5 disc CD changer on shuffle to make my own top 40 countdown (with only 5 artists, haha). I was a huge music nerd but those were the things I loved to do. I felt a kinship with Sheffield while reading this because it was all so familiar to me. I loved that the beginning of each chapter included a new mix tape with so many songs that I remember from the 80's, 90's and early 2000's. I also thought it was funny that Rob was a fan of Hanson. I was a huge fan, but I was also a 12 year old girl then.
When Sheffield's wife passed unexpectedly, he had a very difficult time moving on with his life. Music haunted him but also became a form of therapy. I can't imagine what he went through when he lost Renee. I have a hard time listening to certain songs or albums that remind me of bad times in my life, but Sheffield spent 7 years sharing every part of his life with Renee. This was a heartbreaking story about how he dealt with his loss and eventually learned to move on without her. I expected to cry while reading this, but there was enough humor in Love Is A Mix Tape that I felt a balance. It was definitely a sad memoir, but I had this feeling like everything was going to be okay for him eventually. Sheffield's final act of letting go of Renee was incredibly touching. He took all of her hats to Central Park and spread them around, putting a note on them that they were free. I thought that was a great way to honor her and spread her cheer around a place that she loved.
If you are a fan of music, pop culture or just a beautiful love story in general, go out and get a copy of Love Is A Mix Tape. Rob Sheffield is a fantastic writer with a huge capacity to love, as you will see demonstrated in this memoir.
My rating: 4.5 stars