RECORD COLLECTING FOR GIRLS By Courtney E. Smith [Review]

record collecting for girls book

RECORD COLLECTING FOR GIRLS, like any good book about music from Living to Die to High Fidelity, is extremely frustrating to read without your ipod (or turntable, if you’re so inclined). Broken up into sections with themes ranging from the very specific declarations (Don’t Date a Hardcore Smith’s Fan) to common musical arguments (Beatles vs Stones). I’m not sure the author achieved what she seems to have set out to do, write a music book very specifically for women, and I think that’s why I truly enjoyed it.

Her second chapter, “Where Have All the Girl Bands Gone, reads like a music history lesson, jumping all the way to their inception in the 1950s, through a detailed dissection of The Bangles vs The Go-Gos. This section, while interesting, seemed at odds with the rest of the book, which looked at how people, and especially the author, interacts with music. She made a good point about a lack of girl bands making their own music and you can tell she’s passionate about seeing more female bands, it seemed like a task to take up in another book.

While Smith is very upfront about her status as a music snob her prose won’t alienate the less musically literate reader because while she takes her music very seriously, she doesn’t take herself toO seriously. An example of her ability to poke fun of herself while drawing a Top 40s devotee is her chapter on guilty pleasure songs that posits that every music snob, no matter how indie, has some songs or artists they’d be embarrassed to admit to enjoying. For her part, Smith reveals her guilty pleasure is the Pussycat Dolls. This is even more endearing when she explains she wanted to talk about a mainstream, but still cool guilty pleasure, but her friend called her out.

To add even more layers to the book she sprinkles in two-five page mini-essays throughout the book on topics like how to wade through the sea of music blogs on the Internet and how giving away an album can actually improve a band’s cash flow. She also ends each chapter with a playlist based on the music she discussed, with Sisqo and R. Kelly on her guilty pleasure list and The Cure getting three tracks on her break-up list.

Overall the book is a fun read, with a combination of seriousness and levity that takes it from the status of a how-to book to a how-you-could book. It will definitely make you think about what you have on your iPod, and what owning Brittany Spears Greatest Hits really says about.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars | Publisher: Mariner Books | Pages: 224 | Source: Purchased | Buy on Amazon

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