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Review: Popular : Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek

Friday, June 24, 2016

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

Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 272

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern GeekStuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular? 

The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.


I had the pleasure of meeting Maya and her mother a few years ago at TLA where she graciously signed this book for me. I remember my Mom and I both being really impressed by Maya as well as really excited to read this. I wish I hadn't taken so long to pick it up, it was such a cute and fun read!

I adore all things vintage and old fashioned, so of course my opinion may be a little biased. My idea of a fun Friday night is canning fresh picked berries from our garden with my Mom, or quilting with my sister while we watch Jane Austen movie's with our beloved bunnies. My co-workers often called me Grandma but it never bothered me! 

There are so many things that I loved about this book that it's hard to know where to even begin. I'll start with the book itself. The artwork is so cute, the dust jacket, the cute polka dot lining, the way the original pages from Betty Cornnell's book are woven throughout the book along with pictures of Maya as she attempts to marry these old fashioned tips into her modern life.

This book was really fun, and even comical at times as I pictured these things happening. If I had nieces I think I would buy them each a copy because Maya had such integrity and personal conviction that I found really inspiring in this world. I can't imagine what life is like now for a teen, what they face daily at school and from their very own peers. It was so refreshing and fun to read this memoir and I really recommend it to everyone! 

Whether your a teen having a hard time fitting in, or your an adult who just feels left out at work, or life in general, there is so much we all can learn from Maya's experiences. This was a wonderful social experiment that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. If you've read it let me know in the comments, I'd love to know your thoughts!


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  • Hi! My name is Cristina, I am 29 years old and from Texas! I love my bunnies, books and blogging about my favorite things!
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