Reading Roll Call – December 16, 2019 – American Nerd

Reading Roll Call is a classroom activity I conduct with my students at the beginning of every week to see what they are independently reading. I always share the title of a book that I am reading to model participation and showcase the lifelong commitment to reading that I’ve made.

The Reading Roll Call idea stems from Donalyn Miller‘s book Reading in the Wild. I am adapting the activity and idea into blog form to track my reading progress on a weekly basis. Happy Reading!


December 16, 2019

Last week my wife and I said “goodbye” to our apartment of four years and moved into a house that is becoming our home. Part of the moving process was placing a lot the books I was “currently reading” into cardboard boxes labeled “read books” or “unread books.” While searching for another book, I stumbled upon American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent.

I purchased Nugent’s book at 2nd & Charles, a secondhand bookstore, located in Auburn Hills while I lived in the area for my student teaching. I thought the book’s premise – an investigation into the history of the American nerd – was interesting.

So far, American Nerd has been an lighthearted read. Nugent’s writing style is easy to follow and each chapter flows into another. I appreciate Nugent explaining in a witty way the various sources he’s referencing and using to further his point of the what’s, why’s, and how’s of the American nerd.

I am looking forward to the rest of American Nerd and getting to the bottom of what it means to be nerdy in America.

From the Back of the Book

“What makes Dr. Frankenstein an archetypal nerd? Where did the modern jock come from? When and how did being a self-described nerd become trendy? As the nerd emerged, vaguely formed, in the nineteenth century and popped up again and again in college humor journals and sketch comedy, our culture obsessed over this designation.

Mixing research and reportage with autobiography, critically acclaimed writer Benjamin Nugent embarks on a fact-finding mission of the most engaging variety. He seeks the best definition of nerd and illuminates the common ground between nerd subcultures that might seem unrelated: high-school debate team kids and ham radio enthusiasts, medieval reenactors and pro-circuit Halo players. How are those people similar? How does the history of the nerd intersect with the history of ethnic stereotypes? This clever, enlightening history of the concept of nerdiness and of the activities we consider nerdy will appeal to the nerd (and antinerd) that lives inside all of us.”

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