Friday, April 15, 2016

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (a Memoir) by Maya Van Wagenen, 264 pages (2016-2017 Truman Readers Award Nominee)


Self-proclaimed geek,  Maya Van Wagenen,  discovers an old copy of a 1950's popularity guide,  written by former teen model Betty Cornell and decides to spend her 8th grade year following the advice in hopes of attaining popularity. 

The first thing I have to admit is that I definitely do judge a book by it's cover and I couldn't resist this kitschy cute one.  Then I read the inside flap and the awkward 8th grader inside of me cheered!  If only I'd had this book in 1993!  My BFF and I would have followed it to the letter!

The next thing I have to admit was that I was concerned when in the first chapter Maya devotes an entire month to solving her "figure problems."  Not exactly the body positive image I'm trying to instill in my own daughter.  Fortunately, it's pretty humorous and not at all preachy.

Each month was devoted to a different topic from the original book by Betty Cornell.  Maya included tidbits from Betty as well as live and learn tips from her own experiences.  By the end of the year, she had succeeded.  People knew her and liked her, she had become popular.  Her final popularity tip was the best one, in my opinion.  "Popularity is more than looks.  It's not clothes, hair, or even possessions.  When we let go of these labels, we see how flimsy and relative they actually are.  Real popularity is kindness and acceptance.  It is about who you are, and how you treat others."  Well said, Maya.  Well said.


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