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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke

Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love & Karaoke - Rob Sheffield I’m a nerd who was raised by the worst kind of nerds: music nerds. My parents pretty much raised me on music: my dad’s an entrenched singer-songwriter fan, and my mom will appreciate anything that she thinks is good; their marriage is backed with a soundtrack full of Springsteen and U2 and Dave Matthews and various other cuts. Me, I ended up with a healthy appreciation for all kinds of music, over 80 gigs of music on my computer and a rather worrying attachment to my iPod. (Considering my mental bluescreen whenever it decides to wipe itself.) So it’s really no surprise that I tend to get more attached to books that really utilize music. They don’t have to be about musicians or bands or singers, and I’ve found the books about music fans are the ones I respond to best. (This is also why that High Fidelity counts as one of my favorite movies. Well, that and John Cusack.) Enter Rob Sheffield. I picked up his debut memoir Love is a Mixtape shortly after it came out, and I’ve been a fan of his writing since. (His column is one of the few things I continue to actually read in Rolling Stone.) His brand of music nerdery responds a lot to mine wherein we just love music, okay? Sure there’s bad and good, but if you connect to it, then that’s what matters, right? So all that said. Turn Around Bright Eyes* is the proper follow-up to Love is a Mixtape, detailing the years of Sheffield’s widower life to him meeting his current wife. Like his other books, he uses a facet of the music fan to tell the story; from mix tapes to top ten lists and now karaoke. It’s not just the fact that karaoke brought him and his wife together, it’s what the idea of karaoke is about—getting up on stage and making a damn fool of yourself. And if that’s not a great metaphor for life, then I don’t know what is.Sheffield is a fantastic writer. I’ve actually been waffling on my recommendations of this book because you don’t have to read Love is a Mixtape before going into this, because Sheffield’s able to communicate his grief so well. Having read the first book does help with the full emotional weight of the first half of Turn Around… but you can go into this book without knowing the full details of Sheffield’s first marriage. And the first half of the book is fantastic. There’s a line in the first few chapters where Sheffield talks about living in New York City circa late 2001, about how he can’t escape death and mourning. And it’s through slowly escalating journeys away from all of that death that he begins to find himself again. My one issue with the book, though, is that it’s disjointed at points. I’m used to Sheffield going off and music nerding for a chapter or two; he’s done it in his previous books. However, the structure of Turn Around… doesn’t quite gel together. The first half was great, and while I like the other chapters dealing specifically with the workings of karaoke and karaoke performing—trust me, they’re really good too—structurally it doesn’t work. There’s one chapter just on rock-and-roll fantasy camps that doesn’t quite fit the rest of the book; it’s good but it feels weird to bring into a book about karaoke. (Not helping is the very overt mention that Sheffield went to the camp on a Rolling Stone assignment that got shelved.) There’s really not a lot of exploration with him meeting his current wife or their relationship—we get the details of their meeting and wry observations on Sheffield’s anxiety of being a boyfriend, but there’s a sharp cut to their engagement and no real examination of the relationship itself. I really wanted to see more of that in here.Still, it’s a great book. It manages to be funny and touching and sweet without dwelling on the grief or making it overly saccharine. And even the disjointed, music nerdery parts are still really good reads on their own (see the essays on the trajectory of “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Livin’ on a Prayer” as karaoke anthems and Neil Diamond as proto-karaoke superstar). Sheffield’s books are a must for music fans, and this is a definite addition to my library. *I dare you to read that title and not burst out singing**. You can’t do it.**every now and then I fall apaaaaart…****** IN GERMAN!