Popular: How A Geek In Pearls Discovered The Secret To Confidence by Maya Van WagenenPopular: How A Geek In Pearls Discovered The Secret To Confidence by Maya Van Wagenen

Popular: How A Geek In Pearls Discovered The Secret To Confidence

byMaya Van Wagenen

Paperback | April 21, 2015

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New York Times Bestseller

A breakout teen author explores the true meaning of popularity and how to survive middle school in this hysterically funny, touchingly honest contemporary memoir. 

“I was inspired by [Maya's] journey and made a point of saving a copy of ‘Popular’ for my sister, who starts middle school this fall. Maybe if I had read it when I was her age, it could have saved me from a world of hurt, or at least put that world in perspective.” —Maude Apatow, New York Times Book Review

Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help a shy girl become popular?
Maya Van Wagenen is about to find out. 

Stuck near the bottom of the social ladder at “pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya has never been popular. But before starting eighth grade, she decides to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell.

The real-life results are hilarious, painful, and filled with unexpected surprises. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence, along with a better understanding of what it means to be popular.


Maya Van Wagenen is sixteen years old.  When she was eleven, her family moved to Brownsville, Texas, the setting of Popular. When not hunched over a desktop writing, Maya enjoys reading, British television, and chocolate. She now lives with her parents and two siblings in rural Georgia. She is a junior in high school .
Title:Popular: How A Geek In Pearls Discovered The Secret To ConfidenceFormat:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 8.19 × 5.44 × 0.7 inPublished:April 21, 2015Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0147512549

ISBN - 13:9780147512543


Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Cutest Memoir Ever! Popular by the fabulous, inspirational Maya Van Wagenen is just a beautiful memoir. I wish that someone handed this story to me when I was in eighth grade, struggling with friendships and being a newly-turned teenager. This is the realest an inspirational story can get, and I loved it. Maya's input of her personal struggles and story was absolutely amazing, and I am begging all of you to read this and see what is making the whole world fall in love with her writing. Maya is quite similar to me and she faced similar struggles as I did as a tween so this was really heartfelt. She is also such an AMAZING writer, making her story feel so organized and captivating. You can feel the passion she has of writing throughout the story as she explains each and every one of the important details of her life. The whole book was so easy to read as I knew that it is all opinionated. Maya just has a real voice and I loved reading about her and her uniqueness. She was inspired by Betty Cornell, a former model who wrote a book about how to become popular, and the fact that Maya followed all of Betty's recommendations proves the uniqueness of this "popular project" after all. If you're looking for a quick read, GRAB THIS. Even if you did not struggle with many issues involving popularity as a child, you'll still find something relatable in Maya's story. Her writing is light, special and meaningful. I can now label this as the CUTEST MEMOIR EVER. I haven't felt this happy and excited with a memoir/autobiography for a long time. This shows you something. Popular is actually a really POPULAR memoir, and I can totally see why. (See what I did there?!) Anyone will find something they enjoy here. I cannot wait to see what Maya Van Wagenen has in store for us readers!
Date published: 2017-07-21

Read from the Book

And so, I embark on my grand experiment. Every month of this school year I will follow Betty Cornell’s advice on the topics in her book: dieting, hair, makeup, posture, and attitude, among others – no matter how embarrassing or difficult.I definitely have my work cut out for me. That is if I’m not already beyond help. I am 5’2” with light brown skin that breaks out in acne on a regular basis. I am gawky, slouchy, and just a little bit lumpy. I have non-existent hips and a chest almost as flat as the cover of Betty Cornell’s book. I wear glasses and braces. I do all my clothes shopping at Walmart and second-hand stores. I spend more time on algebra than I do on my hair.Maybe things will change. Can popularity advice from more than half a century ago still be relevant? I’ll find out. Crazier things have happened, right? Men have walked on the moon and society has found a way to grow square watermelons.Betty Cornell has become my new soul mate, and I am married to her every word. For better or worse.

Editorial Reviews

A New York Times bestseller!Maya Van Wagenen is a Time magazine Top 16 Most Influential Teen of 2013and a Huffington Post Most Fearless Teen of 2013 “I was inspired by her journey and made a point of saving a copy of ‘Popular’ for my sister,who starts middle school this fall. Maybe if I had read it when I was her age, it could havesaved me from a world of hurt, or at least put that world in perspective.”—Maude Apatow for the New York Times Book Review “Popular taps into a feeling shared by Bradbury and Bieber enthusiasts alike—the need tofit in during middle school.” —USA Today “Everyone’s happiness project looks different, and I was utterly charmed by Maya VanWagenen’s honest, funny, and thought-provoking account of her efforts to become ‘popular.’”—Gretchen Rubin, #1 bestselling author of The Happiness Project“Geeky and dorky, but never wimpy, Maya Van Wagenen is as powerful and honest as sheis quirky and funny—and startlingly gifted. She’s the real deal, folks, a teenage John Greenfor the next generation. Stunning.” —Margaret Stohl, bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series “Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir, Popular, would have been wonderful to read as a kid, andso reassuring to Nerdy Teenage Me. Her year-long experiment in popularity is timeless; theintelligent and humane way she gets to the heart of the matter is uniquely her.Funny, determined, and wry, Van Wagenen has written a wise, heartfelt guide forother kids eager to keep up.” —Rachel Hartman, bestselling author of Seraphina “An interesting and earnest memoir.” —Kirkus Reviews“While completely appropriate for middle school readers, Popular is even more entertainingfor adults. Van Wagenen is a uniquely gifted talent with a gem of a first novel” —VOYA