Monday, April 11, 2016

American Nerd by Benjamin Nugent

American Nerd (2008) by Benjamin Nugent is a quick nonfiction read about the world of 'nerds' (or at least the author’s very specific experiences with it). Comprised of both autobiography and information about different topics, the author mostly used stories from his own life to illustrate many of his points. Which I think was a very good thing – without those anecdotes, the book could have been dry, but as it was, it was a fun read about an interesting topic.

One thing I did find especially interesting was the way in which the author conflated the terms nerd, geek, dork, etc. I am always really fascinated in the ways different people use and think about those terms, and I’ve found that most people who consider themselves one or the other have strong feelings about what each term means (myself included). In Nugent’s case, however, I couldn’t tell that he did – he never really made a strong distinction. Maybe he just lumps them all together and uses nerd as a sort of umbrella term.

I really enjoyed the historical perspective about how not just the term 'nerd' evolved, but also the concept / idea of nerdiness itself evolved – Nugent gets into how nerds became a thing in the first place, which was really compelling. And I did appreciate the connection that people who are obsessed with sports are nerds in their own way; the only difference is the way this obsession is valued in our society. His points about how nerd culture fits in (and at times doesn't fit in) our larger American culture and society were, for me, the best parts of reading this book, and I would recommend it for anyone who considers themselves a geek / nerd – or loves someone who is.

Keep reading! Beth

1 comment:

  1. About "Benjamin Nugent" book: I enjoyed American Nerd. Ben Nugent's writing style is readable, almost conversational, and it was a quick read for me. The early parts of the book that rely on pure research are the best, but the later parts and the overriding intent of understanding the nerd pathos and subculture falls short by quite a ways.

    However, I would recommend a visit to nerdio, representing nerd culture proudly.