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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (A Memoir) Paperback – 15 Apr 2014

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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (A Memoir) + Betty Cornell Teen-Age Popularity Guide
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (15 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141353252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141353258
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Everyone's happiness project looks different, and I was utterly charmed by Maya Van Wagenen's honest, funny, and thought-provoking account of her efforts to become 'popular'. (Gretchen Rubin, #1 bestselling author of The Happiness Project)

Maya Van Waganen's memoir, POPULAR, would have been wonderful to read as a kid, and so reassuring to Nerdy Teenage Me. Her year-long experiment in popularity is timeless; the intelligent and humane way she gets to the heart of the matter is uniquely her. Funny, determined, and wry, Van Wagenan has written a wise, heartfelt guide for other kids eager to keep up. (Rachel Hartman, NYT bestselling author of Seraphina)

Geeky and dorky, but never wimpy, Maya Van Wagenen is as powerful and honest as she is quirky and funny-and startlingly gifted. She's the real deal, folks, a teenage John Green for the next generation. Stunning. (Margaret Stohl, bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series)

A talented writer, she's funny, thoughtful and self-effacing . . . Teens will readily identify with her (Kirkus)

Popular is wonderful. It is charming, touching, entertaining - and brought back a lot of memories about my own high school anxieties. I will be saving my copy to give to my daughter when she is a little older (Jo Elvin Glamour)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jenny, Wondrous Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 April 2014
Format: Paperback
Popular isn't the kind of book I'd normally read. Memoirs aren't the type of book that catch my eye unless they're about something I'm specifically interested in, but Popular proved to be a very worthwhile book. I read it in one sitting, flying through the pages and wishing it were longer, only to get to the end and being tempted to start from the beginning again. There's a lot of wit and wisdom within its pages, and it's such an inspiring book for teenagers. I'll be donating my copy to the local high school library in the hopes that it'll help somebody who needs it!

Maya Van Wagenen had never been popular. She didn't have that many friends and didn't stand out from the crowd. It's only when she found a popularity guide written in the 1950s that her life really started to change. Her confidence grew, her social circle expanded and she found that middle school wasn't the worst place to be after all.

Maya followed Betty Cornell's Teenage Popularity Guide exactly, spending a month on each section. Everything is covered from weight to fashion to how to make friends, and Maya never once gave up. She really is a fantastic role model for teenage girls everywhere - the very fact she even embarked on this experiment in the first place is testament to her character and how she lives her life. I certainly never would have done anything like that but really I wish I could have read this book when I was fourteen!

There's not much else to say about Popular without going into too much detail and ruining everything for prospective readers. All I will say is that it's probably the most inspirational book I've ever read aimed at teenagers, and what's even better is that it was written by a teenager.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Noyes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 April 2014
Format: Paperback
Maya would have been my heroine at thirteen. I'm still socially awkward now, but have grown up to cope adequately with new people (though I avoid many social settings where I'd be uncomfortable). What every school needs is a Maya.

This is non-fiction, if you're wondering. A real diary of teenager Maya's life. But not an ode to 'why haven't I got a boyfriend?'. This is her warts-and-all portrait of herself and her efforts to become more popular through one school year in middle school. But not in any way you might be expecting.

It impressed me from the cover that Maya is the youngest ever (non-actor) to be offered a film deal with large studio Dreamworks for this book, and the writing inside impressed me more still. Maya writes with maturity, humour and insight. She goes on a quest to improve herself, to improve her social standing, and ends up improving her own self-knowledge, self-worth, and self-confidence. It's a moving transformation and one I smiled and warmed at. I would have wanted to be her best friend if I was a student at her school.

The remarkable thing about the book (apart from Maya's tender age) is that Maya gets her inspiration to begin this journey from a fifty-year-old Guide to Popularity, written by a teen model of the 50s, Betty Cornell. Following her guidance on clothes, makeup, poise and eventually moving on to extending her social group by talking to those outside her usual circle, Maya gradually blossoms through her writing from shy, gawky misfit and bottom of the social pile into a strong-minded and passionate young woman. Advice from the past isn't always outdated.

I loved this. Really, truly loved this.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Review: oh my goodness I learnt so much from this book! I didn't expect to learn anything for the book-I thought it looked like a fun read and loved the concept of someone taking a 1950s popularity guide and apply it to modern day teenage popularity but wow, this book was so much more than that! I learnt about what life is like in a modern day middle school, I learnt how teenagers cope with death of those younger and older than them, I learnt about what it is like to live on the US/Mexican border and I learnt what US teenagers really think about popularity...

I loved the way Maya decided to structure her experiment and then her subsequent book on the experiment, focusing on a different popularity tip each month. I thought some of her findings were absolutely hilarious! But at the same time, some of them had results which saddened me somewhat, and sometimes I really didn't want her to carry on. Obviously I knew that she would be carrying on, otherwise there wouldn't have been a book! I thought the way she ended the experiment was absolutely fabulous as well.

The voice of this author is so strong and so wonderfully familiar, I felt as if she were actually my friend and I became part of her family for the duration of the book, for someone to have a strong a voice as this at such a young age is something truly spectacular. I think I could have read this book if it we double or even table the length because it just captured me so much. I found it was an easy book to pick up where you left off and so good for me to read over a particularly busy weekend. This book has the makings of an amazing film and is a must read for anyone wonder what being popular is all about. It will reassure you of your self worth and give you hope that we are actually only human at the end of the day whilst entertaining you, making you laugh, possibly making you cry and making you think. A truly fabulous book and something which everyone should make their next read!
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