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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by [Van Wagenen, Maya]
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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 182 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up—The bright and perceptive Van Wagenen wanted to boost her popularity in middle school. As a self-defined "Social Outcast, the lowest level of people at school who weren't paid to be there," the eighth-grader had quite a climb ahead of her. Her modus operandi was intriguing: she used a 1950s teen etiquette book that her father found at a thrift store as a guide to climb the social ladder. The clash of eras and cultures is funny—the author wears a girdle, hat, and pearls to class; learns how to apply makeup; improves her posture and poise; and tries a diet. But the best lessons she learns from Fifties teen model Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide are about how to talk to and understand the people around her. Bravely visiting all the various cliques in the lunchroom and making conversation with her secret Sunday school crush, she becomes even more sensitive and aware—and yes, more popular. Van Wagenen's tone is personable and polished. Even though she has many typical tween obsessions and concerns, her writing is surprisingly mature. While overall this light memoir provides plenty of fun, it has a grittier backdrop than the cover and description might suggest. Van Wagenen's school, in Brownsville, TX, near the Mexican border, commonly experiences lockdown drills and warnings against gangs, and she casually mentions that smoke from a drug war in Matamoros, Mexico, is visible from her house. The part-Hispanic teen also occasionally sprinkles in Spanish words. With a DreamWorks movie option in the works, this entertaining title should be in demand.—Liz French, Library Journal

Review

"I was inspired by her journey and made a point of saving a copy of 'Popular' for my sister, who starts middle school this fall. Maybe if I had read it when I was her age, it could have saved me from a world of hurt, or at least put that world in perspective."--Maude Apatow for the "New York Times Book Review"
""Popular "taps into a feeling shared by Bradbury and Bieber enthusiasts alike -- the need to fit in during middle school."--"USA Today"

"An interesting and earnest memoir." --"Kirkus Reviews"
"While completely appropriate for middle school readers, "Popular "is even more entertaining for adults. Van Wagenen is a uniquely gifted talent with a gem of a first novel" --"VOYA"

A New York Times bestseller!
Maya Van Wagenen is a Time magazine Top 16 Most Influential Teen of 2013

and a Huffington Post Most Fearless Teen of 2013

"I was inspired by her journey and made a point of saving a copy of 'Popular' for my sister,

who starts middle school this fall. Maybe if I had read it when I was her age, it could have

saved me from a world of hurt, or at least put that world in perspective."

--Maude Apatow for the" New York Times Book Review"

""Popular "taps into a feeling shared by Bradbury and Bieber enthusiasts alike--the need to

fit in during middle school." --"USA Today"

"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"
"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

"Maya Van Wagenen'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 Wagenen has written a wise, heartfelt guide for

other kids eager to keep up." --Rachel Hartman, bestselling author of "Seraphina"

"An interesting and earnest memoir." --"Kirkus Reviews"

"While completely appropriate for middle school readers, "Popular "is even more entertaining

for adults. Van Wagenen is a uniquely gifted talent with a gem of a first novel" --"VOYA"


Product Details

  • File Size: 10896 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (April 15, 2014)
  • Publication Date: April 15, 2014
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GY9SNWI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,106 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This review appears on Happy Indulgence at happyindulgencebooks.com

Popular is an incredible, hilarious, and achingly honest and emotional memoir about popularity. It asks and answers, what is the definition of being popular? Is it to have the most friends, be the most respected and known at school, is it to be the prettiest or the one that is best at sports?

Maya Van Wagenen’s journey is a real life social experiment and she’s written her day to day accounts of following a vintage guide to popularity - Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide. Each chapter, she follows a different part of the Guide, and slowly works her way up to the major changes she’ll have to make. It’s sprinkled with charming photos of her and her family, and Maya’s honesty, wit and bravery shines through her words and her photos.

At the start, Maya is an insecure teenager at the bottom of her schools’ social ladder. She feels fat and ugly and gets teased and bullied by countless people at school. Seeing her transformation into a confident, self-assured girl who makes a mark on her peers was extraordinary. From changing her hair everyday, to wearing vintage 1950s gear to school, to sitting at different tables dominated by the different subgroups at school, nothing is out of bounds in her quest for popularity. No matter how embarrassing it is, Maya is to be admired for her bravery and devotion to Betty Cornell’s advice.

The glimpses of the rough neighbourhood on the Mexican border that Maya lived in were fascinating, as a world so different from mine. Mexican drug lords making a deal? No problem. Pregnant teens and gangster members at her school? Sure. The school under threat from an armed assailant? Just another walk in the park.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book after seeing an online interview with the author (Kathy and Hoda?) - I was curious, so I downloaded the Kindle sample and was smitten. This girl can write! This is a fun book - I read it in a night - and enjoyed it so much. I can't wait to see what the future holds for author Maya Van Wagenen - I am pretty sure this is the first of many great books she will write. Looking forward to her next book. Oh, and in the meantime, I might just have to read Betty Cornell's original book that inspired Maya. :-)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I belong to a Young Adult book group (I'm just about to turn 50 but I still love reading kid lit and YA novels... good ones). And this is a GREAT one. My friend who has a 14 year old daughter told me about this book so I looked into it. Love that it's a memoir. Love the theme and I wish I had this book when I was in school. I suggested it to our book group and we decided to all read it. I thought I'd read it and pass it along to my friend's daughter, but I think I'll have to keep it. I'll definitely would enjoy reading it again. I'll buy another copy to give to my friend's daughter. Again, I can't tell you how delighted I am with the whole thing. Her awesomely supportive family, the whole idea of how she followed Betty's 1950's book to the letter (vaseline on the eyelids and wearing panty girdles! Who knew they still even made panty girdles!), and Maya's utter bravery. Wow. I could not have done that at her age. I'm not sure I could do it now. What I didn't realize when I first heard about the book is that she told no one that's what she was doing, following the advice of this 1950's book. No one except her family knew, not even her best friend Kenzie. Where it REALLY got me was the month of April's theme: "A Popular Attitude". And then everything starts tying together. It's a wonderful lesson for anyone at any age. No spoilers here (that's a pet peeve of mine) but you will NOT be disappointed. I am so thrilled for Maya. It was a wonderful read. And such a satisfying ending. There's not one little thing I didn't adore. Can't wait for the movie. Also, kudus go out to whoever designed and illustrated the book cover. Love. Love. Love.
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I saw Maya on the Today show and was so intrigued with her idea that I just had to read this book. I was really impressed by her bravery and innovation. The book is well written and really clever. I'm a grown up but was struck by the notion that these lessons really apply in all stages of life. This is a book that all ages can enjoy. I can't wait to see the movie!
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I read it before I gave it to my daughter. I did laugh out loud, it brings us all back to 8th grade. It's very relate-able. And as you read, you think. It's often said that we learn through our children. This puts the things into perspective in a fun way. Great book for any middle school girl (regardless of their "popularity"). Update - my daughter is 80% through and loves the way Maya writes, she doesnt always read what I recommend but this time she did!
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I couldn't help falling in love with Maya and her family as she goes on this "journey" to be popular. She has a way of telling a story that makes you feel like you are experiencing it right along with her. I laughed at her witty, sarcastic comments and felt her sadness when she experienced pain. It has been a treat to read her honest, heartfelt memoir.
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