Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen

This is actually a two book review in one. I saw this book and the book that inspired it (Betty Cornell's Teenage Guide to Popularity), and figured that since they were both there, I should just read them both.

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek is a memoir by Maya. She's at the lowest rank of the school hierarchy. So when she finds Betty Cornell's Teenage Guide to Popularity, she decides to spend one month per chapter in a bid to be popular (as defined by her at the start of the book).

Betty Cornell's Teenage Guide to Popularity is exactly what the title says. Covering topics like health, dressing, skin care, make-up, how to behave and more, it's reminds me of finishing school, but in a book.

So what happens when you put an (admittedly dated) guide book with a geek living in a less-than conventional place (this ain't the suburbs after all)?

Well, something approximating what I expected. Maya does make more friends, but it's not because she suddenly becomes popular, like a teen movie. No, she starts to make friends because she starts reaching out to people. And in the process, she realises that how you treat people that's more important than how you look (although how you look can influence your self-esteem, so that's no excuse to slack off).

Despite the fact that Maya and I come from very different backgrounds, I really empathise with her. I know what it's like to not belong to one group, but I think how Maya ends up - friends with everyone, is the best way to end up. You get to meet a lot more people that way.

Popular actually contains enough excerpts from Betty Cornell's Guide that you don't have to read both of them. You can just reading one. But, I found it interesting to read the guide (even though I won't follow anything). After all, it's always fun to peek into the mindset of another age.

When I get back to Singapore, I should go hang around the used bookstores a little more. I might find something cool like this.

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