Note: Mike is a good friend of mine from college and Minneapolis. He currently writes in his blog, A Flaming Wheel of Sliced Bread. Mike texted me out of the blue saying that I needed to pick up American Nerd so we could discuss and, if I wasn't impressed, he would "pay me back" the $20 cost of the book.

Dear Mike,

I finished American Nerd yesterday and I'm not sure if I want my $20 back or not. While I enjoyed the book in places and parts, overall I felt that it was kind of lacking, in some respects, of the whole spectrum of American Nerdom. Of course, this could have been his decision due to time and length constraints, but what he was really writing about what the American MALE Nerd and, more specifically, his experience as a American Male Nerd who didn't want to be labeled as such. In the end, if felt more like a book written to validate the choices he made to get out of that social sphere that he was in, compromising his own friendships.

What bothers me so much about the book is what he left out, mainly, female nerds and the internet. While brief mentions are made of both, he seems more centered on history and male input and views. Being a nerd (or is a geek? Do you think he crosses the two?) and having many female nerd friends, I was rather miffed to be excluded. While great pains are taken in tracking the male image of the nerd, few is mentioned about female nerds. As for the internet, while he talks briefly about how ham radio lingo morphed into l33t sp34k, there was no mention of what a social impact the internet had and still has on nerds. My group of friends out here, I'd say we all associate with being nerds or some form of that, is all because of the internet. It's how I met my equally nerdy boyfriend.

I'd also like to touch briefly on the idea that, while not directly stated but heavily implied, is that all nerds don't want to BE nerds, they all want to be part of the popular crowd. I take umbrage with this because I don't think that's true. Perhaps it is in smaller high schools or in situations where their own nerdy circle is not as tightly knit as they would hope, but I look at my own high school circle of friends and think that most of us didn't WANT to be preppy or jocks or anything else. While we hated being picked on (which only happened when we were outside our protective numbers) we realized that there was no reason to belong to a group of people that enjoyed picking on others. Besides, we had fun on our own. This is what leads me to believe that this is more of his own personal validation and his final acceptance of what he did to his fellow nerds in order to be "popular," or something.

So there you go - I'm thinking if I had just bought the book on for $13 I would have been a little bit more happy. So lets just say you owe me about $7?

I'm also incredibly interested on how you took the book and your own ideas. I'm also interested in Elaine's view, seeing how she's a fellow female who also read the book.

Mad Love,