These days, it's pretty cool to be a nerd. I recently finished Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, in which the narrator becomes a hero entirely because of his nerdiness (read my review here). This got me thinking about just how useful it truly is to be a nerd, and how many of my favorite characters use their so-called nerdiness to beat the bad guys and save the day. Here is a list of some of my favorite nerds in literature.
Who knew that a quiet little boy with geeky glasses would end up becoming a worldwide phenomenon? Together with Hermione, a bookworm with incredible magical skills and Ron, a loyal misfit with a heart of gold, Harry Potter inspired an entire generation to read. And not only that, he even made it cool to read! I was eleven years old when the first book was published in the U.S. and almost every year afterwards I waited in line at midnight to get the next book and see the next film. At 25, I am not ashamed to admit that I shed some tears when the final movie ended and the era of Harry Potter officially came to a close. Although the series is over, the stories will continue to inspire generations of readers. If you haven’t yet discovered the magic of Harry Potter, pick up a copy today!
This Newberry Medal recipient introduces us to Meg and Charles Murry. Meg is a geeky girl with big glasses, braces and a deceptively high IQ. Charles, her quirky five-year-old brother, cites dictionaries and biology textbooks like they were as trivial as Saturday morning cartoons. Together with their friend Calvin, the misfit siblings team up to find their brilliant scientist father who has disappeared somewhere in the time-space continuum. Part coming-of-age novel, part quantum-physics fiction, this classic proves that it pays to be a geek.
Brian Falkner’s sci-fi vision of a futuristic America is frighteningly plausible. People have become so addicted to their gadgets and so concerned with their digital presence that keyboards and touch screens are no longer quick enough. Neuro-headsets now allow people to connect to the web instantly, through their thoughts. But if people are literally plugged into cyberspace through their minds, what is to stop hackers from infiltrating and manipulating their thoughts? Sam Wilson is one of the best hackers in America and he knows how dangerous this possibility is. Brain Jack is Sam’s quest to stop the mass manipulation of the country and cut the cord that has kept the world plugged into cyberspace and oblivious to reality.
Bonus Points! A portion of the novel is set in Silicon Valley and Sam visits quite a few Bay Area landmarks.
Geektastic -Edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
Geektastic is a selection of short stories from some of today’s most well-known authors in young adult sci-fi and fantasy. These authors are all self-proclaimed geeks and pen stories ranging from such geeky topics as The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Comic-Con. My personal favorite was David Levithan’s Quiz Bowl Antichrist, starring a moody bookworm who uses his literary knowledge to compete for a quiz trophy, while struggling with his science-smart teammates off the stage. I also enjoyed Tracy Lynn’s One of Us in which a cheerleader pays a group of nerds to teach her “how to speak geek” in order to understand her boyfriend’s comic and sci-fi obsessions. Libba Bray, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfeld and many more authors each tell their own tale of geekdom so there really is something for everyone.