Perhaps the ever-fabulous John Green said it best in a vlogbrothers video from 2009 when he summed up a nerd as someone who is “unironically enthusiastic about stuff.” For bigger-picture context, John had just seen the latest Harry Potter movie and was thrilled not only by the movie itself, but also by the sense of community and camaraderie he experienced in the theater while waiting for the movie to begin. And while this post isn’t about Harry Potter, the quote (and video) did make me think about exactly what it is to be a nerd.
For me, being a nerd is something I am immensely proud of. It’s come to be a defining factor in my life, something I embrace openly and enthusiastically. Tuesday nights find me at my local tabletop game store playing Carcassonne or Dominion with friends. Weekends are for sci-fi movies and 8-hour video game marathons. I own a Batman backpack, TARDIS lamp, and Master Sword/Shield of Hyrule/Ocarina combo. I pride myself on loving my fandoms passionately, even obsessively.
But what I’ve learned is that just because I read a lot of Batman comics, that doesn’t necessarily make me an expert on the universe. What I love about nerd culture and fandoms is that there is always something new to learn, to obtain, to work toward. But even for someone who already has a base-level knowledge, it can be daunting to jump into a fandom without some guidance. It’s dangerous to go alone, dear readers, take these resources to guide you on your journey!
Batman Science: The Real-World Science Behind Batman’s Gear by Tammy Enz and Agnieszka Biskup (2015 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)
Since 1939, we’ve been watching Batman save Gotham over and over and over again. Taking on the criminal underworld is bad enough, but Batman’s super-villain rogue gallery requires an extra level of dedication and intelligence. Thankfully, we all know that Batman is secretly Bruce Wayne, billionaire and CEO of WayneTech. With Lucian Fox on his side, Bruce is guaranteed the best of the best equipment and technology to aid his quest – things like the Batmobile, batarangs, armor, and more. In this title, the authors delve into the actual science behind Batman’s gear, bridging the gap between fiction and reality. A must-read for Batman fans or technology gurus.
The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith
Even though this book’s target demographic is single guys, I read this one just out of curiosity and really enjoyed it! The slant toward guys is addressed at the very beginning, but even us women can surely find something to take away from this gem of a book – even if it’s only an insight as to how guys think and behave. With chapters on meeting women, going on dates, breaking up, and taking the relationship to a more serious level, this title holds a wealth of indispensable advice for the nerd looking for love!
The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
For the ladies, Sam Maggs has crafted a short-but-comprehensive handbook for all things fandom. This title is absolutely packed with information on almost every aspect of being a lady geek. Maggs covers everything from conventions and cosplay to how to handle online trolls. Also included are helpful glossaries and resources, interviews with famous fangirls, discussions on feminism and its importance, site profiles and info for women artists and creators that everyone should know, a discussion of different kinds of fandoms, and more. With a warm and inviting tone, this reads more like a conversation from an older sister.
Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen (2015 Award for Excellence In Nonfiction)
With nothing left to lose, girl geek Maya Van Wagenen decided to attempt a unique social experiment. After unearthing a copy of a 1950s popularity guide written by former teen model Betty Cornell, she made a commitment to live out the advice given in the book, hoping to increase her own social status for the school year. What she encountered was far more than pearls and makeup advice – she began to realize that what we do is actually less important than who we are. Heartfelt and touching, with a hint of wacky, this title is perfect for anyone looking to make friends or trying to come to grips with who they are.
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
Felicia Day (writer, producer, actress, violinist, feminist, gamer, nerd, and more) opens her new memoir with an account of an encounter she had in the Build-a-Bear store at a local mall. Immediately recognized by a gushing group of Hot Topic employees, she then faces a woman who wants a picture without actually knowing who she is. Day realizes that both she and her fans likely fit into a specific niche, but she is unapologetic about who she is and what she loves. The memoir is infused with humor, and fans of The Guild will appreciate the story behind the woman. Felicia Day is one of my personal heroes, and I hope you’ll like her too!
Armed with these titles, go forth and embrace the nerdy life! Did I miss a nonfiction title I NEED to know about? Let me know in the comments!
-Jancee Wright, currently reading The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert