Thursday, November 17, 2011

Library Nerds: Love Is A Mixtape

I can remember a time when I hated reading. I thought it was for nerds, and I absolutely didn't understand people who read for fun. Well, I still think reading is for nerds, but I just happen to count myself as one of those nerds. I'll be the first to admit that I love nothing more than curling up on the couch and watching TV, but there's something really nice about curling up with a book instead. I don't do it nearly as much as I wish I did, though. It's such a solitary activity, reading. But I've still managed to work my way through some awesome books in my day.

I decided to not waste any time and jump right into this feature with my favorite book of all time..... (This is the part where I'm a completely biased diehard, fawning over Rob Sheffield and his wonderful writing. Read on.)

Love Is A Mixtape by Rob Sheffield

Love Is A Mixtape is a boy meets girl story, punctuated by 90s alternative music.  It's storytelling, at its finest, and Rob Sheffield takes center stage throughout. Each chapter starts with a "hand written" mixtape tracklisting, chock full of any indie kid's 90s favorites. Sheffield then takes that particular mix and travels back in time to when he originally made the mix, and the time period surrounding it. These stories connect to tell a beautiful love story that will probably be the largest factor in why I'll never get married (much like The Notebook.) Why, you ask? Well, the love he describes is so unadulterated and pure, it feels impossible that everyone can find the kind of love super geek, Rob, found with his punk rock goddess, Renee. It's the best love story I've ever read. 

So if I do ever get married, it will probably be because I finally found someone who will make me mixtapes like Rob made Renee. Each mixtape he details unfolds another chapter in their lives together, telling stories of first impressions, adventurous roadtrips, extreme loss and sadness.The story itself is not one you can easily leave behind once you finish the book. It travels with me everywhere I go,  in a little recess of my mind. Remember when you were little, and became obsessed with a TV show, and then began to act like the characters in the show? This book is like my adult version of that. It has greatly altered my view of love, relationships, loss, and truth be told, music.

Being a huge music nerd myself, this book exposed me to music I had never even heard of previously. It wasn't like someone mentioning an awesome band over coffee, and me looking them up on iTunes later. Reading this book was much more than that. It was the explanation of why Pavement is so wildly influential to one man because it provided the soundtrack to his relationship with the most spectacular woman he had ever met. Reading this book made me view even some of my favorite bands from the 90s and before in a completely different light. Sheffield doesn't write music recommendations in this book. He writes music love letters. Love letters to Kurt Cobain, Michael Stipe and Lou Reed and some of the greats even before him. But as much as Love Is A Mixtape is a love letter to music, it's also an extremely beautiful love letter to Renee. Sheffield writes about her the way every girl dreams a boy will one day write about her. He writes with utter adoration, in the most poetic of fashions.

This is my favorite passage from the book. Reading it gives me chills every single time.

"I thought to myself, Well, I have wasted my whole life up to this moment. Any other car I’ve ever been in was just to get me here, any road I’ve ever been on was just to get me here, any other passenger seat I’ve ever sat on, I was just riding here. I barely recognized this girl sitting next to me, screaming along to the piano solo.
I thought, There is nowhere else in the universe I would rather be at this moment. I could count the places I would not rather be. I’ve always wanted to see New Zealand, but I’d rather be here. The majestic ruins of Machu Picchu? I’d rather be here. A hillside in Cuenca, Spain, sipping coffee and watching leaves fall? Not even close. There is nowhere else I could imagine wanting to be besides here in this car, with this girl, on this road, listening to this song. If she breaks my heart, no matter what hell she puts me through, I can say it was worth it, just because of right now. Out the window is a blur and all I can really hear is this girl’s hair flapping in the wind, and maybe if we drive fast enough the universe will lose track of us and forget to stick us somewhere else."


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