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

Book Review


“Love Is a Mix Tape” by Rob Sheffield is a touching memoir that beautifully weaves together music, memories, and love.  Released on January 7th, 2007, I was worried that this book would be outdated for me and that I wouldn’t like it.  I was completely wrong.  The book tells the story of Rob’s life with his wife, Renee, through the mixtapes they made for each other.  Through these mixtapes, Sheffield takes readers on a journey through the music that defined his life and his love for Renee.  From punk rock to country ballads, each song tells a story and brings back memories of a specific time and place.

Yet this book is not just about music.  It is also a story of love and loss.  Sheffield writes with raw honesty about his grief after Renee’s sudden death.  He describes how the mixtapes they made for each other became a way for him to connect with her memory and process his grief.  What makes “Love Is a Mix Tape” so special is Sheffield’s ability to capture the emotional power of music.  He writes with such passion and insight that even readers who don’t share his specific music tastes will find themselves moved by the stories he tells. 

One thing that was an incredible touch, was that the book is divided into chapters, each of which centers around a mixtape that Sheffield and Renee made for each other.  The mixtapes spanned different genres and decades, and each one is a reflection of the different stages of their relationship.  He writes about the joys and struggles of his relationship with Renee, and he does it in a way that is both intimate and relatable.  The reader gets a real sense of who these people were, and what made them so special to each other.  We feel as if we are close friends of Rob and Renee, and he’s recalling a story that has been told millions of times.  This is easily one of the most intimate books that I’ve ever read. 

Sheffield’s love for music is evident throughout the book.  He talks about how music was a constant in his life, and how it helped him through difficult times.  It’s clear that the mixtapes that he and Renee made for each other were an extension of this love for music, and that they were a way for them to communicate their feelings and emotions through song.  He is not afraid of sharing the ugly moments, and hurtful things that can be said during a relationship- he embraces it and uses it as a learning experience.  As a reader, you can feel when he talks about the highs and lows of his life, that he embraces pain, and instead of struggling with it, he turns it into something beautiful.

Readers on the app GoodReads agree.  Many of them after reading are willing to be vulnerable in their reviews and talk about how much music means to them.  Over the years they’ve noticed that sound transcends boundaries, and when listening to any type of music they feel free, and they seem at peace.  How they haven’t been able to put into words this feeling, and Rob Sheffield has seemed to do it in less than 300 pages. 

“Love Is a Mix Tape” is a beautiful tribute to love, music, and the power of memory.  It is a book that will stay with you long after you finish reading it, and that will make you want to dig out your mixtapes and relive some of your memories.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves music, memoirs, or simply a great story about the power of love.