The Theory of Everything: Mix Tape Week – “Love” (And a contest for you!)

All this week, we are featuring guest posts from Kari Luna, author of The Theory of Everything — spotlighting playlists/mixtapes featured in the book, and giving you a chance to win an amazing prize pack! (Contest details are at the bottom of this post, so be sure to read all the way to the end.)

“Music was memory. I think that’s why Dad liked making tapes and I liked listening to them. Without leaving my seat or traveling to another universe, I could go somewhere else as often as I wanted, a little world that existed for Dad and me alone.”

Love by Angelino Sophia


When my sister went away to college, I made her mixtapes. Music was everything to me – and I loved sharing it with her. She was the one who went away to London for a semester, came back, and introduced me to the good stuff, anyway: The Smiths, New Order, The Housemartins… the list goes on. Her love of new wave became my love of new wave and forever changed the way I listened to music. She let me borrow her Talking Heads albums. She played me Blondie. And she didn’t officially let me borrow her cool smoking jacket from London but I did, anyway. And somehow, lived to tell about it.

You can tell what was going on in my life by what I put on the tapes – Robyn Hitchcock and Lloyd Cole and songs of love meant it was 1991 and things were changing. In the mix from 1994, though, I seemed happier – more sure of life – and in love with The Breeders, Pavement and PJ Harvey. It makes sense. And it also makes for a perfect snapshot of my life in a certain time and place. A life I shared with my sister, through music.


When it comes to making mixtapes, Sophie’s dad is the master – and he passed the legacy down to her. Some of the rules? Always have a theme. Work diligently on the order of the songs. Name the tape creatively. And most importantly, put a lot of thought into choosing the last song. Like Sophie says in the book, her dad taught her that the last song should always leave a mark.

Love isn’t one of the tapes Dad left behind or made for himself, it’s a tape he made specifically for her. Each song has a message, including the last one. Especially the last one. At its heart, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING is about belonging, no matter who you are – or how many shaman pandas you see.

“I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does.”
            – The Smiths, “How Soon Is Now?”

So go ahead – make more mixtapes.  Make more playlists! Put yourself out there and reconnect with an old friend. Tell someone you like them. Or let your sister feel like a part of your life through music. Mixtapes are like little love bombs traveling from one pair of ears to the next. Connecting, delighting, inspiring. Couldn’t we all use a little more of that?

Thanks so much for listening and reading this week!

Love by Angelino Sophia
Message of Love – The Pretenders
Close To Me – The Cure
Have Love Will Travel – Thee Headcoatees
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
The Passenger – Iggy Pop
Two Hearts Beat As One – U2
The Village – New Order
How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths

Listen to this playlist on Spotify!

The Theory of Everything Playlist Contest

NoviceGiveawayNow it’s your chance to win the “Love” mix tape – and more! We’re giving away an amazing prize pack, put together by Kari, which features a copy of The Theory of Everything, a TTOE poster, a set of TTOE buttons, a copy of the actual “LOVE” mix tape AND a Walkman!

To enter, submit your ultimate playlist – including title – for your chance to win. Playlists should include between 5-10 songs.

Submit your ultimate playlist using the Novel Novice + TTOE Playlist Contest Entry Form.

Please note the following rules:

  • One entry per person
  • U.S. only
  • Use the entry form
  • Playlist should be 5-10 songs in length (include song title & artist)
  • Playlist should also include an original title

Entries are due by midnight (PT) on Friday, November 8th!

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