Saturday, April 7, 2012
How I Became a Nerd
Being called a nerd used to hurt me, like nerd was on the same level as “moron” or “bad person.” In the small microcosm of high school, it meant that you participated in activities that were not socially acceptable—like fighting with someone because they got the names of the Hogwarts founders wrong or joining The Booklovers Club when all the popular girls joined The Dance Club. It meant that you were strange, different, and were not likely to receive heart-shaped cards on Valentine’s Day.
Throughout the years, I’ve come to terms with my nerdiness, and have even come to embrace it. While the popular girls in high school gyrated to the latest dance remixes, the world of the Lord of the Rings enveloped me. Now, I know that both activities can be equally fun, but, almost five years later, I think they’ve forgotten the names of the songs they danced to, while I’m looking forward to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit like nobody’s business.
So, I’m writing this post to somehow chart my path into nerdom.
I think it all started in third grade, when someone—I forgot who—but me a bunch of Nancy Drew novels. I don’t know anything about the Nancy Drew novels of today, but the Nancy Drew of my youth was no literary giant. The books were entertaining, but they stereotyped Asians, women, practically everybody, and could sometimes be very, very offensive. Nonetheless, I devoured them like Chiclets.
The reign of Nancy Drew ended when my father took me to the bookstore on one of our rare outings together. I was supposed to buy another Nancy Drew book, but the book with the boy on a broomstick on the cover caught my eye.
The era of Harry Potter started, and it still hasn’t ended. I became obsessed with Harry Potter throughout most of my elementary and high school years. I wore oversized Harry Potter t-shirts to every important school function, had a Harry Potter notebook I wouldn’t let anyone else touch, and made myself a wand using a barbecue stick.
I don’t know what would have happened to me if I hadn’t found Harry Potter at that time in life. My parents were still in the middle of a bitter separation at the time, and I just wanted to float away into a world where squabbling parents and terms like ‘legal custody’ did not exist. But, then, here was a boy who was even more miserable than I was. Both of his parents were dead, and his aunt and uncle gave him socks for Christmas. At least, I got awesome presents like toys and books.
When I reached the ninth grade, Stephen King took over my reading diet for a while. I started with Misery which I absolutely loved, and ended with Dreamcatcher which I will always refer to as DA BOMB. I loved some others like The Green Mile and Room 308. I haven’t touched his works in years, because I got distracted by other writers. There were just so many I hadn’t discovered and read yet that I could focus on one writer, even if I wanted to.
My obsession with classics started about two years ago when I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’d read a smattering of classics before the like Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and Jane Austen books, but The Great Gatsby became my gateway book to the classics. I could get a lot of them at my favorite secondhand bookstore, and, if I could get my hands on a paper copy, I could easily download an e-book from Project Gutenberg for free. I was addicted.
Books have been a part of my life, for as long as I can remember. They helped my nine-year-old self escape to the magical world that was Hogwarts, and they opened my eyes to the mysteries of human nature when I got hooked on classics like The Great Gatsby. Yes, I’m a gigantic literature nerd, and I’m proud of it.
What about you? How did you become a nerd?