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Bookworm=nerd (or does it?)

My son and I were having a conversation about nerds recently.  Another second grader had told him that being a nerd was a bad thing.  I explained that I was a huge nerd growing up and that his father, despite his athletic prowess and popularity with cheerleaders, was also a bit of a nerd.  My kid was intrigued.  “Why were you a nerd?” he asked, and the answer, irrefutable and incontrovertible: “I was obsessed with books.  Still am.”

Of course, plenty of non-nerds love books.  And not every nerd is obsessed with literary pursuits (just think of your friend the techie who has memorized every line from every Star Wars movie).  But, books and nerdiness have a delightfully symbiotic history.

This piece in Flavorwire made me think fondly of the books that I’ve loved in spite of and a little because of their high nerd quotient:  Borge’s Labyrinths, Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night, Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy….you get the idea.   These are not books you discuss with your girlfriends over wine and nachos like you would an episode of CSI: Antarctica.  These are the kinds of titles that cause people to roll their eyes at you in disbelief at your pretentiousness or, in a different setting, that will set off endless tedious deconstructions of literary tropes and themes.   As much as I relish my pulp fiction, my popular nonfiction, and my scandalous bestsellers, I still define myself as a nerd because of those, well, nerdy books I read.

So, what books do you love that mark you as a nerd?

4 Responses to Bookworm=nerd (or does it?)

  1. I have always been an avid lover of SF/fantasy, which is one of many reasons I never had a chance of escaping the nerd label. When I was younger, I got mocked for liking science so much and reading Asimov and Verne. I’m sure some of my high school classmates thought me pretentious when I made a Tralfamadorian book for an English project after reading Slaughterhouse-Five, but dang it, Tralfamadorian narrative structures are really cool.

    I grew to stop caring about being labeled a nerd. I just found other people who shared my interests. I hope your son can do the same. Nerds are awesome.

  2. EDWARD says:

    I don’t own a TV. For this reason I don’t pal about with friends who wish to discuss CSI:WHATEVER. ( I am assuming the Antarctic thing was a joke; perhaps not ). People who have a TV are friendly, but confused. They usually don’t become my friend. I went to an Ivy League school. Nobody mentioned it was an Ivy League school when I was attending classes; when I graduated, EVERYBODY I met (who hadn’t gone to an Ivy League school) made a big deal of it, flattering and mean spirited both. I am probably a nerd, but don’t have any NON-nerds around to tell me that I am a nerd. I guess this is where I am supposed to drop the names of all the nerdy authors I have a weakness for, but I am still wondering about the challenges of being a forensic detective in the Antarctic.

  3. D.C. DaCosta says:

    I don’t think I qualify as a classic nerd, but I will proudly confess to being halfway through Churchill’s “History of the English Speaking Peoples”. Does that qualify?

  4. The Hook says:

    Pretty much any comic book I read qualifies me for nerd status – in the eyes of my wife, that is!

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