Love Is … a Good Book

9 May

I don’t read books. People ask me all the time, “What’s the last book you read?” And my response is always “I don’t read books.” It’s not that I don’t read. In fact, I devour magazines on a weekly basis — Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Improper Bostonian, etc. But I’ve never had much patience for or time to devote to books. Of course, this hasn’t stopped me from accumulating quite a library of books that I hope one day to read. So every time I go on vacation, I bring one with me, but I never get that far (it’s happened recently with Franz Wisner’s Honeymoon with My Brother and Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott’s Which Brings Me to You). I think the last book I read from start to finish was Dave Egger’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and that was, like, six years ago.

So why am I mentioning all this now? Well, I don’t want to jinx it or anything, but I may just be on the verge of finishing another book: Rob Sheffield’s Love Is a Mix Tape. Rob is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone (he writes the “Pop Life” column) and he’s been a commentator on MTV and VH1. The book is Rob’s memoir about he and his late wife, Renee, who had nothing in common but a love of music, and Rob tells the story by using the various mixes he made for her (or she for him) as a uniting theme. As he writes, “Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together and they add up to the story of a life.” I’m sure years from now I’ll be able to remember certain times of my own life based on mixes I’ve made (and not just Xmas ones). That’s the idea behind the book, and given that it takes place in the early 90s, the lists of artists on the tapes gives the book a definite sense of time and place. There’s even a chapter devoted to the weekend Kurt Cobain died.

Basically, Mix Tape is a love letter to Renee and to music, and whether you’re a romantic, a music lover, or just like good memoirs, the book is great. It’s written in a conversational tone, making it fast-moving and, at times, hard to put down. At the end of each chapter, I found myself eager to read just one more. Usually I struggle to finish chapters and can’t wait to put down the books. I found out about Mix Tape when it was excerpted in GQ in the January 07 issue. I don’t usually get affected by books or magazine articles (other than those that make me laugh), but I found myself tearing up a bit reading the excerpt.

It’s been less than a week since I picked up Mix Tape, and I’m more than halfway through. I’d be surprised if I wasn’t done with it in another week or two (not being on vacation anymore and all). I wish I could write a more convincing recommendation than this is. But suffice it to say, any book that gets me from start to finish has to be good. If you go to the book’s web site you can read an excerpt and decide for yourself if it’s worth picking up.

Update, 6/8: I’ve finished the book.

One Response to “Love Is … a Good Book”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Still My Favorite, Week After Week « Martin's Musings - November 19, 2012

    […] last year, I didn’t read many books, but I certainly did read magazines, and since its first issue in 1990, EW has been my […]

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