“giving dorks a voice”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“A well-researched, funny and personal account of what it is to be an American nerd. Ben Nugent attempted to slough off his own nerdiness in his adolescence, but manages to give it a fitting tribute in this light-read.”see full review » see other reviews »
“giving dorks a voice”Calina K wrote this review Thursday, December 15, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Quirky and funny and amusing and interesting - however, didn't seem well-organized and cohesive. Plus, there were many many nerd references that one would not understand if one were not...a nerd. So. It wasn't really effective in communicating "The Story of My People."”Philly girl wrote this review Friday, May 6, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Tried to read, but eventually lost interest about 1/3 of the way in. Will try again another time.”Jess wrote this review Thursday, April 14, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Well researched by a persecuted nerd. Very interesting to discover that Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was afraid of the ocean and spent all his free time experimenting with musical sounds. Had no idea that 'Muscular Christianity'
was a serious Protestant movement of the early 1900s.”
“How does one review a book about nerdiness without sounding like they are trying to out-nerd the author? I did find the structure of the book a little awkward and at times I felt the author clung a little to tightly to some of his theories, but overall it was a fun read.”Morgan wrote this review Saturday, February 5, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“It was extremely well-written. There is no plot, so that made it a tad difficult to get into. I wish it had more of a story line or longer, more significant anecdotes. I enjoyed it because its dry humor made it pleasant to read. I normally don't read books such as this one, but I'm glad I chose something different.”Kaitlin wrote this review Thursday, February 3, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A well-researched, funny and personal account of what it is to be an American nerd. Ben Nugent attempted to slough off his own nerdiness in his adolescence, but manages to give it a fitting tribute in this light-read.”Kirstin MacKenzie wrote this review Sunday, November 21, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“"First in my class here at M.I.T /
Got skills, I'm a champion at D&D
M.C. Escher, that's my favorite MC
Keep your forty, I'll just have an Earl Grey Tea
My rims never spin, to the contrary
You'll find that they're quite stationary
All of my action figures are cherry,
Stephen Hawkings' in my library
Look at me, I'm white and nerdy. "
("White and Nerdy", Weird Al)
My local library's web catalogue offered American Nerd as a result when I searched for titles in popular science, and the premise -- a book on nerd culture -- hooked me immediately. Author Benjamin Nugent is an ex-nerd, who as boy grew up "boffing" and playing long rounds of Dungeons and Dragons when he wasn't busy with an NES system. After opening with an analysis of Wikipedia's definition for nerd, Nugent gives a brief history of nerd-types, beginning with the characters of Mary Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein. The most general characteristic of Nugent's nerds is that they prefer worlds of rationality to physical or sensual stimulation, and that they are out of place in a post-industrial revolution world that increasingly associates reason and rationality with machinery, not humanity -- humanity being represented by emotion and romanticism. Other elements branch from this, as with a preference for Standard English over language replete with slang.
From there, Nugent devotes chapters to individual elements in the "nerdy" spectrum: the old-fashioned Steve Urkel types, the Renaissance Faire enthusiasts, video gamers, 'hackers', anime buffs, science fiction or fantasy fiction fans, and those who pretend to be nerds to be seen as controversial and nonconformist.There are also "case studies" in which Nugent focuses on his childhood friends; the most memorable case study was that of a refuge from Mormonism, who saw the rule-governed world of Dungeons and Dragons as a redoubt against his mother's violent and unpredictable religiosity.
It's an interesting book, best received by confused parents and loved ones of nerds who don't particularly understand why their child or friend likes dressing up as a feudal knight, spending hours at a time exploring 'dungeons' on paper occupied by figurines, or animatedly discussing competing operating systems. Nugent's approach strikes me as casual, cavalier -- and sometimes careless. He identifies a passage from a forum as being a prime example of "leet speak", for instance, but the passage in question only contains one word (pwn) associated with "leet speak". The rest is the kind of butchered English associated with twelve-year olds using instant messaging for the first time, more accurately known as "AOLspeak". In another instance, he characterizes The Big Bang Theory as two nerds' quest to win the heart of a girl, which...it isn't.
Fairly entertaining and a little sloppy, but it may be of use to someone who wants to understand the nerds in their midst.”
“Awesome and funny”Erin wrote this review Wednesday, March 3, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The author's definition of a nerd didn't really feel right to me. Also, he seems to view nerds a little hypercritically most of the time, and much of the subject matter he discusses seems to go over subjects only tangentially related to real nerd-dom. I didn't ever feel he was close to the subject. I only read about a third of the book, but what I read was uninspired. I was hoping for more of a kind of a sympathetic pseudo-ethnography of nerds.”David F wrote this review Tuesday, January 5, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No