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

Popular - A Memoir by Maya Van Wagenen Title: Popular: A Memoir: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek
Author: Maya Van Wagenen
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780141353258
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Guide
Pages: 272
Source: Product Manager
Rating: 5/5

I don’t think I have ever been popular. I don’t even know if I ever wanted to be popular in school or at college. It would have been nice to be known by everyone and probably accepted, but then looking back it was not so bad, or maybe it was and that is why I do not remember half or most of it. There are times, some things are better forgotten. This month, right at the start of the month I have finished reading a book I would love everyone to read. It was then written by a fifteen year old who is now seventeen. The book is called, “Popular: A Memoir: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek” and I also think all teenagers should read it, because they will need it the most.

“Popular” is all about fitting in and at the same time it is about trying to find the person you are and will become and perhaps be for a very long time. Maya was facing a problem at school. She was right low at the social chain. She did not seem to exist to the others. And she wanted to change all of it, without knowing how. Till she stumbled on “Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide” – which was written in the 50s by Betty Cornell and decided to follow most sections or tips from then book on how to be popular and make diary entries of her experiences each month. Maya decided that she would do it for a year, which later turned out to be this fascinating book.

This book is mostly aimed at teenagers (or maybe not) and yet at thirty, I felt I could connect the most with the book. The book is in sections – diary entries, Betty’s tips and Maya’s Popularity tips as well. The action plays out on the Texas/Mexico border and in Maya’s school, her home, her neighbourhood – almost everywhere and place she is acquainted with.

“Popular” is a personal account of how things can change for you, if you want them to, with a little help. The writing is honest and more so from a fifteen-year old perspective, it is mostly endearing and you can almost feel what she goes through at various stages of making changes and yet goes with them anyway.

I think what works with this book is the stark reality of growing-up which at some point all of us have faced. I think that is what made me go through the book – with smiles and tears. “Popular” can be read at any age and by anyone. It is most reassuring and also makes you believe that things can change and perhaps people will look at you differently if you allow yourself to be just you.


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