First of all my recommendation is not to read the last couple of chapters of Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield on a plane. It should be read somewhere where you can appropriately shed the tears that this book deserves. You probably didn’t have to guess too much to realize that I really like this book.
I am a few years late in reading it as it came out in about 2007. I picked it up on a whim from my Amazon recommendations list. I thought this looks like the indie love song in book format that I didn’t even know I was looking for. There’s good music, there’s love, there’s tragic loss, I’m on board. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how much of himself Rob Sheffield put into this book and how in those last few chapters you feel how trapped and lost he felt. Like I said, don’t read it on a plane. I had to resort to playing Katy Perry on my ipod because although I wanted to listen to Magnetic Fields to really embrace the mood of the book, I knew I would for sure lose the ability to maintain any sort of composure. What I enjoyed about this book is that you fall in love with Renee because clearly Rob loved her so much that you can’t help yourself when you read what he has to say about her.
What I loved about this book is that I was a bit too young to really be into the 90s music scene and understand much of what happened especially earlier in the 90s (by the time I was really on board, the song I remember the most that first opened up more of a musical world for me was Swallowed by Bush (I used to sneak and watch it on MTV when the parents were out of the house – sorry Mom!), but I was reminded of my copycat adolescent self who tried to emulate the scene that these people actually lived. It brought me back to taping songs off the radio (yes I did that), it brought me back to making mixed tapes and then cds. One of my all time favourite mix tapes was my mix I made for my 17th birthday. Every other song was Dancing Queen by Abba and every time I hear that song today it brings me back to driving around on my 17th birthday with my friend Rachel singing Dancing Queen at the top of our lungs in my Chevy Cavalier.
One of my favourite paragraphs of this book is Rob’s explanation of why he likes to do dishes and why he thinks it’s a long standing tradition for the men in his family. As his mother said to him about his father doing dishes “He does it for the peace.” As he explains “I found I had joined a club, a tribe extending backward through the centuries, mild-mannered Irish men married to loud, tempestuous Irish women. Sometimes, the only way to escape is to turn on a couple of jets of extremely loud water…” This made me wonder if that’s why my dad always did the dishes. He was stuck in a house full of irish women.
I highly recommend this book especially if you’re a sap for good music and tragic love as I am.