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A geek's reading of Just a Geek



It's been almost an entire month since I last blogged. Lots of work. Lots of reading. Mostly stuff that if anyone actually asks me about, he regrets having done so within 2 sentences of my answer.


Last week, though, I finally made it to that special place for readers - the public library! Unfortunately, I was in such a rush, that is was a drive-by stop: Enter. Grab whatever books catch my interest in a quick browse of my favorite sections. Leave within 5-10 minutes.


Add to that the fact that the local public library here is TERRIBLE for browsing, because they don't have many...books. The system is fantastic if you know what you want, because you can go online and request whatever books you like and they'll notify you and hold it at the library of your choosing. If you like wandering and finding something cool that you wouldn't have known about - not so much.


So I had low expectations for the books I borrowed, but at least I was going to do some 'fun' reading, something I hadn't done in at least a month. Believe it or not, I wound up discovering a book that surpassed my expectations.


I read Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton.


Yes, THAT Wil Wheaton. Wesley Crusher. Before that, he was the kid in Stand By Me. Thanks to reruns on television, it's easy to forget - or simply not realize - that Wil Wheaton is in his 30s. He is a married (with two step-children) adult who turned a blog www.wilwheaton.net into what is essentially a writing career.


Just a Geek is Wheaton's tale of how he came to terms with himself as a 'non-actor' and squared away his love/hate relationship with Star Trek. It's basically the same story any number of my friends could have written about intertwining careers and identity, discovering priorities in life, and, basically, growing up. And it's done well, for the most part, because Wheaton really CAN write. Sure, he may have had more success because his name is famous, but the point is that his writing has genuine cross-over appeal. You don't have to be familiar with Star Trek to find this an interesting or entertaining read.


The part of Just a Geek that works best is where Wheaton includes entries of his blogs with commentary. Normally, I'm fairly critical of people who try to take blogs and pass off a collection as a book (yes, Bill Simmons, I'm looking at you, among others). Wheaton uses the blogs to critique himself and show his growth and development. He deliberately points out the inferior quality in writing in the earlier entries. They aren't THAT bad, but a professional writer would be slightly embarrassed by the quality.


More importantly, though, Wheaton exposes the lies and hypocrisy in his OWN blogs. I don't care much for the A.A. Milne-esque names he gives for his writing (e.g., The Voice of Prove to Everyone), but the way Wheaton demonstrates the disconnect between what he was thinking and feeling vs. writing rings very true. You don't read the book and think: well, why should I believe him now? Clearly, he was lying before. Maybe this is the Voice of Getting Books Published. Instead, I read the book and believed the sincerity. And it is good to see someone acknowledge the reality of blogging - even the most self-obsessed and seeminly revealing blog can be a front, totally disconnected from the underlying truth of the writer.


Just a Geek isn't a masterpiece, but it's fun, enjoyable and definitely an interesting read. I recommend it to geeks and non-geeks alike.


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