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Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  35,322 ratings  ·  2,876 reviews
In this stunning memoir, Rob Sheffield, a veteran rock and pop culture critic and staff writer for Rolling Stone magazine, tells the story of his musical coming of age, and how rock music, the first love of his life, led him to his second, a girl named Renee. Rob and Renee's life together - they wed after graduate school, both became music journalists, and were married onl ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by Crown Publishing Group (NY) (first published January 1st 2007)
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Althea Hanson This book is for everybody. Renée’s and Rob’s story is a gift to anyone who reads it. And anyone who reads it should be everybody.

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This review’s content may be confusing, annoying, trite or downright laughable to persons not born between 1965 and 1978. Hell, it may be all of that and more to just about anyone. Consider yourself warned.

Put your thinking caps on ‘cuz I’ve got some trippin’ down memory lane for you:
Where were you when you first heard ‘A Day in the Life’? What about ‘Wild World’? What did you think when you finally understood the meaning of ‘She Bop’? What does ‘My Heart Will Go On’ mean to you? Do you know whe
This is one of the most touching books I've ever read. It's sweet without being sappy, cute without being cutesy, painful without being unbearable. It's about music and how it can weave through our lives and sew us together, even when we think we're unraveling.

“When we die, we will turn into songs, and we will hear each other and remember each other.”

I've had that quote on my wall for a couple of years, framed with several photos of musicians I love and have the good fortune to know or to have
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: love, memoir, tear-jerker
They met when they were both twenty-three. Rob told Renee, “I’ll make you a mix tape!”, the same thing he’d told every girl he had a crush on. Except this time, it worked and Rob fell hard. Later, they planned to step on a cassette tape at their wedding ceremony, instead of a glass. Between them, they had a love for music, bound by a love for one another. Or maybe it was the other way around.
”Renee was a real cool hell-raising Appalachian punk-rock chick. But, the first record she record she
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Love Is A Mix Tape just absolutely knocked my socks off.

I devoured this book in one weekend and enjoyed every single page, heartily. This is ostensibly a book about mix tapes, and looking back at a life spent seeing the world in a series of 45-minute vignettes (then, of course, you flip the tape over). Rob Sheffield has penned an honest (yet wildly entertaining) book that affected me more deeply than any book I've read in recent memory, woven throughout with a genuine and bleeding love for music
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, music, grief
I fell head-over-heels in love with this book, just as Rob Sheffield fell hard and fast when he met Renee. The book is their love story, but it's also a love story about music. Each chapter opens with the song list from a mix tape Rob either made or received. It was fun to skim the titles, looking for tracks I had used in my own mix tapes.

One of my favorite chapters was when Rob got picked to play the music at his junior high dance. He screwed up big time. He filled his tape with power anthems,
Veronica D ✿
Jan 02, 2021 marked it as to-read
Shelves: nonfiction
Not me wanting to read this just because Harry Styles did 💀💀💀
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
I didn't really know what this book was about until I started flipping through it last night. I bought it as a last minute, bargain priced add-on from Barnes & Noble, pretty much just to bump up my total to $25 so I could get free shipping. The title caught my eye since making mixtapes took up a lot of time during my teenage years. Seriously, when the iPod was first introduced, I thought it was the greatest invention since the automobile.

Anyway, I was expecting this to be a humorous, dick-lit ty
Emilia P
Aug 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: just the really cool kids
Oh man, shucks.
I loved this book.
I could say that the story arc could have been stronger or that he could have talked about mixtapes more (even though he talked about them a lot, I never get sick of it). But I won't. I don't care about those things.

I care that I basically love this book way too much. There are many reasons.

1) I am a sucker for exercises in love and grief, which a lot of this book is--his wife died suddenly after they were married for like 5 years, and most of the book is about h
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs-and-bios
I didn't like this as much as others have seemed to. And what I liked most was probably what others discarded--I liked hearing about the signifcance of all the songs and mixes and bands. But the love story? Sap-tastic and hit-me-over-the-head-repetitive.

Every tenth line of the first long chapter is heavy foreshadowing mixed with hipster melodrama--you know, "That music changed my life. But Renee was my life. And then my life went away." Then something like "Love isn't like a cassingle. It's lik
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
I love how music was such a big part of Rob’s life; it feels like music had a greater meaning back then. Music nowadays is still important—I can’t imagine my day without music, the thought itself is depressing—but I don’t get the same vibe as when I read this memoir, it’s like people instead of air breathed music which is awesome.

After this I want to receive mixed tapes.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
3-1/2 stars

In 1991, when they were both 23, Rob Sheffield fell in love with a woman named Renée. Five years later, she died, of a pulmonary embolism ("just bad luck," the coroner tells Rob). In between, they married, wrote for music magazines, hung out in record stores (remember those?), and went to a lot of live shows featuring whoever made it to Charlottesville, Virginia. And they made mix tapes. Lots and lots of them. For washing the dishes, walking the dog, driving, sewing, getting up in the
Mar 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
How come, when most authors write about music, they write as if they're trying to sound like scholars of the Pitchfork generation? And how did Rob Sheffield know he should skip all that and write a great book about the intersection of music, tragedy, and everyday existence?

Love is a Mix Tape is Mr. Sheffield's account of his marriage, wife's death, and the role music played in their lives. The couple were one of those with a musical cute meet (Big Star related, even) and a shared Pavement fanati
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Rob Sheffield only had a few years with his wife before she died suddenly, and this book is about their relationship and his own background, all through mix tapes. It is a clever framing but also full of meaning, because all of us are probably most connected to the music from our teen through college years.

Some of the music was unknown to me, but a lot of it was deeply familiar - I immediately went looking to see if someone had already pulled it together in Spotify, and they had!

Another thing I
Opening line:"The playback: late night, Brooklyn, a pot of coffee, and a chair by the window. I'm listening to a mix tape from 1993."

Before I-pods and ripped CDs we all made mix tapes. I'm sure most of us over a certain age still have them safely hidden away somewhere, never quite having had the nerve to throw them out (broken cases and all) We named these tapes, gave them away to friends or lovers and assigned them different purposes. Remember the break-up tape, the I'm so infatuated with you t
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, despite my mild dislike for Sheffield's writing in Rolling Stone magazine. While the story is heartbreaking -- he becomes a widower earlier than anyone should be allowed to -- I was expecting much more insight than what's provided in this slim tome (I read it in one sitting.)

The story boils down to this -- music nerd from Boston meets awesome Appalachian girl who is everything he isn't. You know where the story is heading after he is instantly smitten when she
I started reading this book during the two-day buffer between the beginnings of both 2012 proper and the working year, thinking that I’d have to look no farther than the other end of the couch if the story really destroyed me to the point of needing my myriad mostly-under-control-but-always-threatening-to-surface spousal fears allayed by husbandly hugs. Turns out, catching up on laundry and tidying up our soon-to-be-vacated first home ate into my reading time and I wound up finishing this about ...more
My neighbor pressed this book into my hands, and I can't even remember how we even talked about why I should read this.

The format is so clever and such a unique way to delineate life- by mixed tapes that Rob creates or is holding onto. Music and song lyrics hit each person so differently. They can trigger memories, smells, and even nostalgia for a period in time- for Rob- Zima+Chambourd concoctions. I wish I knew more about Rob & Renee or some of the artists he's interested in, it wasn't until w
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any book that describes the summer of '94 as a series of drunken southern barbecues populated by mod-girls and indie rock dudes who always ended the party with the girls singing along to the entirety of Liz Phair's 'Exile In Guyville' on the back porch (word for word) while all the guys listened intrigued and obsessed and befuddled in the kitchen is A+ in my book. See also, the tragic passage inspired by Sleater-Kinney's 'One More Hour', the eulogy to the '90s, and the author's recipe for the pe ...more
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of memoir I'd like to have written (albeit without the deceased wife).

I've had a few conversations with friends in the last year or so about the long-lost art of the mix tape, which has been delivered a death-blow by the digital age. Burning a CD mix just isn't the same; for one, it doesn't take nearly as long to make a CD mix, which cheapens the sentiment attached to giving one to someone, especially when the hope is that the gesture and the songs themselves with make the reci
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-challenge
There are millions of songs in the world, and millions of ways to connect them into mixes.

A mix tape steals these moments from all over the musical cosmos, and splices them into a whole new grove.
✨ kathryn ✨
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
This punched me in the gut. Hard. Tears were shed.
Lauren Androconis
Nov 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wasn’t able to pick up on all of the 90’s music references, but I still really enjoyed this read. I picked this book because I wanted to read something sad and this delivered lol
Apr 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Life is filled with the most beautiful moments one can imagine but these beautiful moments could also end in some of the most painful times. Although this may be a scary concept that many avoid talking about, it is this reality that will set us on our path to enjoying these precious moments to the max. In the memoir, Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield, this concept of losing love and enjoying what you have while you have it is shown through the musically bonded love of two music journalist, Rob ...more
"I didn't know what to do without Renée. I didn't know what I was. I didn't have a noun."

This is a heartbreaking story doused with a lot of love and happy times. Some parts were a bit cheesy, but the mix tape chapter headers were a fun touch. I appreciate Sheffield sharing this difficult part of his life and how he coped.
Feb 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thank you Harry Styles for recommending this book. This was so beautiful. It really spoke to me on a personal level. Rob talking about all of his favourite songs and artists, finding his love, marrying and losing her while remembering her through music.. I just felt so seen! And everybody who loves music as much as I do will do too! Especially when you have a partner you share all your music with. This was just wholesome. At times a little dragging but nevertheless a beautiful memoir I will prob ...more
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book because of the title. I loved the idea of the intense power of music to draw on memory and expected my own memories to mesh with the story. But I found Sheffield's mesh of music unusual, sometimes jarring, and I found myself not connecting with it as much as I'd like. It was a bittersweet memoir with a few humorous moments, but there wasn't anything unusual or memorable in his story.

Quotable moments:

But most of all, I regret turning thirteen, and staying that way for the n
Jul 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bjorn Sorensen
Now I know someone likes making mix tapes (and by extension mix cds) as much as I do. I also know someone's as crazy about the corniness and desperation of 90s music as I am about 80s music. When I embrace some of mainstream music's most desperate attempts to throw something profound into our pop culture - take Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" or Spandeau Ballet's "True" - I know author Rob Sheffield will join me in my heartfelt applause. And, like Sheffield, I think my generation of music - ...more
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s the same with people who say, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Even people who say this must realize that the exact opposite is true. What doesn’t kill you maims you, cripples you, leaves you weak, makes you whiny and full of yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly annoying
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book!!! Left me absolutely devastated, trying not to cry on the bus, mourning someone I never met. There is a lot of good music in here, but instead of listening to it I put Astral Weeks on repeat as I always do in the first weeks of spring. At some point I will reread chapter by chapter and listen to the mixes, but not until I feel emotionally fortified enough to stand it.
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Reader's Choice B...: April - Love is a Mix Tape (Virtual Meeting & Goodreads) 3 13 Apr 23, 2020 12:10PM  
goodreads group Mixtape Your Book 1 74 Jul 02, 2007 10:03AM  

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Rob Sheffield is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine. In addition to writing music reviews and profile stories, Sheffield also writes the Pop Life column in the Mixed Media section of the magazine. His work has also been featured in The Village Voice and Spin. A native of Boston, Sheffield attended Yale and the University of Virginia, and is six foot five.

His first book, Love is a Mix

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His Favorite Books About Music: Sheffield shares five books that will be in sync with music lovers.
28 likes · 5 comments
“It’s the same with people who say, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Even people who say this must realize that the exact opposite is true. What doesn’t kill you maims you, cripples you, leaves you weak, makes you whiny and full of yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly annoying.” 793 likes
“When we die, we will turn into songs, and we will hear each other and remember each other.” 741 likes
More quotes…