The reason why I picked up this book is none other than Harry Styles: he recommend the book in one of his interviews and that’s how it found its way onto my TBR list. However, the book was not my introduction to Rob Sheffield, its writer. In fact, in 2018, I cited Sheffield’s review of Harry’s concert in my undergraduate dissertation. All these connections might have been destiny’s signal that I will end up loving the book.
‘Love is a Mixtape’ is a memoir that includes both musings about life and music as well as a deeply personal love story. The takes on both music and life include the discussions on female fans power over music, music’s worship as modelled on religion, kindness (another very Styles concept) and grief after a loss.
The love story is heartbreaking and is accompanied by mixtapes. In turn, these mixtapes (or I guess Spotify playlists nowadays) are never just about the music but also all about the stories behind them.
I could deeply relate to the book because like for many other I’m sure, music has been there all my life, even thought i have never been trained in singing or playing an instrument. I was always just a listener but a passionate one. Being in the music fandom as a pre-teen and teen laid the groundworks for the reaserach path I would choose as an emerging academic (fan culture). Music – in the shape of 7 Korean men nowadays – would be my lifeline when times got tough mentally. Crushes – from childhood to now – would get a song associated with/assigned to them. Friendships would be built upon a shared interest in an artist. Important moments in life would be commenorated with concerts, including: bartering with my dad that if I finished the year 10/sophmore year with straight As, he would take me to see Lady Gaga that summer; celebrating the submission of my undergraduate dissertation with a Troye Sivan gig; making the final decision to apply to grad school at a Shawn Mendes gig; or unknowingly celebrating the last moments of normalcy before corona took over at a Halsey gig at the begining of March 2020.
The only tiny minus but not really of the book is that a lot of pop culture and music references in it are very much West or even more exactly America based (thus, somewhat inaccessible to someone who grew up in Eastern Europe) and also products of their time 70s-80s-90s (decades I have only known second hand as a late 90s baby). However, one is always just a Google search away from knowing the references. I personally didn’t felt the need to do that to still enjoy the book.