Synopses & Reviews
What is love? Great minds have been grappling with this question throughout the ages, and in the modern era, they have come up with many different answers. According to Western philosopher Pat Benatar, love is a battlefield. Her paisan Frank Sinatra would add the corollary that love is a tender trap. Love hurts. Love stinks. Love bites, love bleeds, love is the drug. The troubadours of our times agree: They want to know what love is, and they want you to show them. But the answer is simple: Love is a mix tape.
In the 1990s, when alternative was suddenly mainstream, bands like Pearl Jam and Pavement, Nirvana and R.E.M. bands that a year before would have been too weird for MTV, were MTV. It was the decade of Kurt Cobain and Shania Twain and Taylor Dayne, a time that ended all too soon. The boundaries of American culture were exploding, and music was leading the way.
It was also when a shy music geek named Rob Sheffield met a hell-raising Appalachian punk-rock girl named Renee, who was way too cool for him but fell in love with him anyway. He was tall. She was short. He was shy. She was a social butterfly. She was the only one who laughed at his jokes when they were so bad, and they were always bad. They had nothing in common except that they both loved music. Music brought them together and kept them together. And it was music that would help Rob through a sudden, unfathomable loss.
In Love Is a Mix Tape, Rob, now a writer for Rolling Stone, uses the songs on fifteen mix tapes to tell the story of his brief time with Renee. From Elvis to Missy Elliott, the Rolling Stones to Yo La Tengo, the songs on these tapes make up the soundtrack to their lives.
Rob Sheffield isn't a musician, he's a writer, and Love Is a Mix Tape isn't a love song but it might as well be. This is Rob's tribute to music, to the decade that shaped him, but most of all to one unforgettable woman.
"[Sheffield] writes with brevity, soul and wit....It's a loving homage to an extraordinary relationship, and Sheffield obviously took a great deal of time, nuance, love and care in crafting this, his greatest mix tape yet." Denver Post
"This is a lightly-handed, skillful and sincere celebration of pop, of love, sad songs, bad songs and the long, nearly unbearable ache of being a young widower. Witty and wise; a true candidate for the All-Time Desert Island Top 5 Books About Pop Music." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[L]oose and shambling, with a tendency to digress on such topics as Zima and the dynamics of synth-pop duos." Los Angeles Times
"No rock critic living or dead, American or otherwise has ever written about pop music with the evocative, hyperpoetic perfectitude of Rob Sheffield. Love is a Mix Tape is the happiest, saddest, greatest book about rock'n'roll that I've ever experienced." Chuck Klosterman, bestselling author of Killing Yourself to Live
"I can't think of many books as appealing as Rob Sheffield's Love is a Mix Tape; Sheffield writes beautifully about music, he's hilarious, and his story is alternatingly joyous and heartbreaking. Plus, everyone knows there's no better way to organize history and make sense of life than through the mix tape." Haven Kimmel, bestselling author of She Got Up Off the Couch
"The author's grief and recovery are just as integral to the story as the couple's first date. Somewhere, Renee is beaming with pride at her husband's achievement." Library Journal
"Anyone who loves music and appreciates the unspoken ways that music can bring people together will respond warmly to this gentle, bittersweet reflection on love won and love irrevocably lost." Booklist
"The inevitable problem is that songs rarely communicate the same emotion to every listener, and too often Sheffield assumes that he and his reader share the same rarified ear. But what saves Sheffield's memoir is the tenderness with which he writes about Renee. Though it's interesting to consider why certain music is so personal and powerful, it is only when Mix Tape
's music fades that you understand why it was so important in the first place." Alan Wise, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
Sheffield relates the two important love affairs of his life, the first with music and the fine art of the perfect mix tape, and the second with a woman who changes him forever.
You never leave home without your iPod. You have a real relationship with your music, and your life unfolds to the soundtrack of your tunes on shuffle. But where do you turn when youre looking for newnot always recenttracks to add to your collection? Or for the female perspective on classic music debates, like Beatles vs. Stones? And who is going to tell you what you can learn from your crushs music collection? (If hes an overzealous Smiths fan, send him packing.) For years, youve been listening to men talk about music, but the womans side of the story has been missing. Until now.
InRecord Collecting for GirlsCourtney Smith takes the mic and explores what music can tell women about men, and more importantly, about themselves. She riffs on a range of topics from Our songs and Your songs to the evolution of girl bands. She provides playlists for occasions that necessitate a finely crafted mix – like making out or breaking up – and gives readers tips for curating a real record collection. Finally, here is a voice that speaks womenbecause girls get their hearts broken and make mix tapes about it, too.
Mix tapes: Stick one into a deck and you’re transported to another time in your life. For Rob Sheffield, author of Turn Around Bright Eyes
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.
Former MTV music programmer and MTV blogger Courtney E. Smith delivers a humorous and edgy look at the world of music from the female perspective.
“Record Collecting for Girls
is an invitation for all of you stereophiles (who happen to be female), to make your own top-five lists, and then, armed and ready with the books fun facts, to argue their merits to the ever-present boys club of music snobs in your life.” —Sarahbeth Purcell, author of Love Is the Drug
and This Is Not a Love Song
You never leave home without your iPod. Youre always on the lookout for new bands, and you have strong opinions when it comes to music debates, like Beatles vs. Stones. For years, youve listened to guys talk about all things music, but the female perspective has been missing. Until now.
Drawing on her personal life as a music enthusiast, as well as her experience working at MTV and in radio, Courtney E. Smith explores what music can tell women about themselves—and the men in their lives. She takes on a range of topics, from the romantic soundtracks of Romeo and Juliet to the evolution of girl bands. She shares stories from her own life that shed light on the phenomenon of guilty pleasures and the incredible power of an Our Song. Along the way, she evaluates the essential role that music plays as we navigate lifes glorious victories and its soul-crushing defeats. Finally, here is a voice that speaks to women—because girls get their hearts broken and make mix tapes about it, too.
“Courtney Smith has smarts and sass in spades. Her insights are as hilarious as they are thoughtful, and when you finish reading this book, youll feel like you just got home from a perfect night out with your best friend. And youll want to listen to Prince. At full volume.” —Megan Jasper, Executive Vice President, Sub Pop Records
About the Author
Rob Sheffield is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. He has been a rock critic and pop culture journalist for fifteen years, and has appeared on various MTV and VH1 shows. He lives in Brooklyn.