If music is my religion, then U2 is the church at which I unfailingly worship. Much like the special edition U2 iPod a few years ago, I am the target market for a memoir by someone who also loves my favorite band.

In I’m A Fan, Eric Shivvers’ recounts his introduction to and subsequent love affair with U2, their music, and legacy. I downloaded an electronic copy of the book to read after hearing about it on Twitter.   Gear up, y’all. This post is a bit lengthy because I’m talking about the book and a bit about my own love for the band here.  And of course, U2 is playing in the background as I write.

Let’s get the few things I didn’t love about the book out of the way first, because the good in this one, for me, far outweighs the bad. There were a number of typographical/grammatical and spelling errors in the book that were a bit distracting. These were largely misplaced commas, your/you’re and their/they’re/there type issues. A subsequent editorial review may have caught these, so don’t let that stop you.  The only other big gotcha for me was Shivvers’ seems to use pseudonyms for many people in the book, and I didn’t realize that. I was a bit confused when his wife went from being “Jessica” in the main part of the book to being “Amy” in the epilogue. Finally, I thought a few places in the book dragged. But these were obviously important parts of the memory to the author so those parts were easy to overlook. Again, though, this is minor stuff, and if you, too are a U2 fan, then none of these things should deter you from reading the book.

Now, on to what spoke to me in I’m A Fan, and why ultimately I recommend it to any other fans. I said it earlier- if music is my religion, then U2 is my church. I think for many fans the hardest thing to articulate is exactly why we love this band, these four lads from Ireland who’ve been bandmates, friends, and brothers in all ways but blood for nearly as long as I’ve been alive. Shivvers gives it his best shot, his own unique perspective, and in doing so captures some of what it means to love this particular group.

U2 hit Shivvers at the right time.  His earliest exposure to them happened in 1983, through a friend, while he was in high school. Shivvers’ parents had divorced when he was very young. Music became an outlet for him as he moved from country to country with his mother and stepfather all the while trying to maintain some sort of relationship with his father. Eric was introduced to U2’s music by his friend Chad.  It wasn’t love at first listen for Shivvers, and that was one of the first things I was able to relate to in the book.

My own first real exposure to U2 was when The Joshua Tree began to get a lot of air play in 1987. I loved the video for “Where The Streets Have No Name” but at the time, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “With or Without You” did little for me.  Then, my sophomore year in high school my friends and I decided to skip our cafeteria-based Homecoming dance to go see the film Rattle and Hum on opening night. I didn’t have much interest in the movie. I just wanted to hang out with my friends.  But watching that much-maligned film is when I fell in love with U2. I can’t tell you if it was the utterance of  “Fuck the Revolution” when the band spoke of the Troubles in Ireland, or if it was understanding, just a little bit, what it meant to see them perform live. But after that movie, I was a FAN.

It was this ability to relate to Eric’s experiences that kept me turning pages in the book. I know what it’s like to find meaning in the lyrics at the most unexpected yet most needed times in life. I could completely related to how anxious Shivvers gets when it’s time to procure tickets to a show. I know what it’s like to be in that arena or stadium and fill that god-shaped hole fill up when the band take the stage (seriously, hearing them live is THE BEST way to get U2).

I can also relate to the place that U2 holds in Eric’s heart and their importance in his life. Some of my friends call me borderline obsessed with the band. I can talk about them, and why I love their music, for hours.  Like Eric, I can’t tell you my favorite album or song or even lyric- those are numerous and change depending on what is going on in my life.  There’s something that happens when I hear U2’s music- especially live- that I really don’t have words to describe. It’s a feeling in my soul.  Perhaps what religion is to many people, but a sense that I’m part of something bigger than me. A sense of love, and hope, and occasionally anger and aggression that also needs an outlet.

Now, Eric’s experiences as a fan have taken a far different path than mine. He’s had much more intimate encounters with the band than I have- autographs, brief meetings, Oprah’s couch when Bono was on to promote Project RED- but he can look critically at the band, and I think for him U2 is a bit like coming home.  They are as much a part of his life as they are of mine.

Really what Eric Shivvers has done here is write his own love song to U2. And any fan will enjoy reading it, remembering their own great moments of fandom. Maybe they’ll even break out the catalog and listen to songs with a fresh perspective, and fall in love with the band all over again themselves.