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Pop Culture Nonfiction

July 27, 2023

A decade ago, I would have said that I was a pop culture nerd. Now that social media has taken over the world, I have no idea what the cool kids are doing these days. I mean, tick tock was my first word(s), but I was talking about the clock at my grandma’s, not learning to dance online. That said, I always like reading about fun things that I’ve enjoyed. If you are into any of these things feel free to nerd out with the rest of us.

I lived through the 90s as a high school student, and I must say that I didn’t overly enjoy it the first time through. So I was a little ambivalent about this one. Then I started reading and it pulled me in. I had kinda forgotten all the stuff that happened – yes, the OKC bombing, Clinton’s presidency, and first war in Iraq. But also the birth of the internet, The Matrix, and Pauly Shore. The book is dense, and it took me a little effort to make it through, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t captivating. It almost made me nostalgic for the good old days. I was sad when it was over. (The book, not the decade.) 

I loved The Big Bang Theory. It’s probably my favorite TV show of all time (but don’t tell the Gilmore Girls or Ted Lasso). Somehow, I missed this one when it came out. A month or so later, I was reading something and they mentioned this book. I was like, “Um, yes please.” I had to wait for a minute because Holds List, but friends, it was worth it. First of all, this book is almost 500 pages of BBT goodness. Also, this isn’t one of those unauthorized bios where the author interviews friends of friends and high school biology teachers. All of the original cast returned to be interviewed by the author. In addition: Chuck Lorrre, Bill Prady, the Steves, and other various writers and minor characters (hello Mark Hamill) sat down with Jessica to tell their stories. And sometimes they were brutally honest, while still remaining respectful of their BBT family. I loved this. It was well-researched and well-written. Plus, there are tons of behind the scenes pics. If you watched BBT at all, you have to read this. And that’s no Bazinga!

Did you know that LEGO is actually a Danish product? I did not. It was such a ubiquitous part of my childhood – more because my brother played with LEGOs than because I did – that I never stopped to think about it. This book talks about how LEGO came to be, and I found it very interesting. The company originally produced wooden toys: cars, trains, and animals like ducks on wheels that children could pull for fun. When first presented with the idea of plastic bricks, some company executives didn’t want to make those because they thought that plastic has no future. Wood is where it was at. Hindsight, am I right? I watch the LEGO Masters TV show and have the theme song from The LEGO Movie in my head, so I guess you could consider me a fan. Thanks to this book, now I know more about how LEGO came to be. In Legoland, everything is awesome! (You’re welcome.)

I grew up with the Muppets. I loved The Muppet Show, and I always watched Sesame Street when I went over to my grandma’s house. I never realized that there were international versions of Sesame Street. Also, it seems like it would be such an easy thing, right? Just dub over the puppets and voila, Sesame Street for any country. But no. The creators want each version to really represent their local culture so each new iteration gets some of the original muppets, but also some new creations specifically to reflect their viewing audience. It was kind of sad reading about the attempts to create new Russian muppets. They were all dark and depressing because under their communist government, Russians weren't allowed to play. This was an incredibly fascinating book about a job that I would have zero patience for. About the third time something fell through, I would have been out of there. Excellent read about sunny days on Ulitsa Sezam.

So, those are just a few of my favorite things to check out in the world of pop culture nonfiction. Explore NPL to find your own faves today! And it's not too late to record those Summer Reading Challenge points. 

Happy popping…and locking (No TikTok! Stop trying to take over the world!),

:) Amanda

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Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.