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Wil Wheaton has never been one to take the conventional path to success. Despite early stardom through his childhood role in the motion picture "Stand By Me", and growing up on television as Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Wil left Hollywood in pursuit of happiness, purpose, and a viable means of paying the bills. In the oddest of places, Topeka, Kansas, Wil discovered that despite his claims to fame, he was at heart Just a Geek.

In this bestselling book, Wil shares his deeply personal and difficult journey to find himself. You'll understand the rigors, and joys, of Wil's rediscovering of himself, as he comes to terms with what it means to be famous, or, ironically, famous for once having been famous. Writing with honesty and disarming humanity, Wil touches on the frustrations associated with his acting career, his inability to distance himself from Ensign Crusher in the public's eyes, the launch of his incredibly successful web site, wilwheaton.net, and the joy he's found in writing. Through all of this, Wil shares the ups and downs he encountered along the journey, along with the support and love he discovered from his friends and family.

The stories in Just a Geek include:

Wil's plunge from teen star to struggling actor Discovering the joys of HTML, blogging, Linux, and web design The struggle between Wesley Crusher, Starfleet ensign, and Wil Wheaton, author and blogger Gut-wrenching reactions to the 9-11 disaster Moving tales of Wil's relationships with his wife, step-children, and extended family The transition from a B-list actor to an A-list author

Wil Wheaton--celebrity, blogger, and geek--writes for the geek in all of us. Engaging, witty, and pleasantly self-deprecating, Just a Geek will surprise you and make you laugh.

Published: O'Reilly Media, Inc. on
ISBN: 9780596550790
List price: $13.99
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I'm not quite sure what I was expecting when I read this. I had heard of Wil Wheaton through Star Trek and then over the last couple years popping up all over the net but never really looked further. I've never been a reader of his blog.

I think the reason I picked it up was because I was curious as to why I was starting to see him or references to him in all my favourite webcomics, etc. And after reading this book I'm still not sure why.

This book really felt like it was missing something. I know it was adapted from the work he has done on his blog and it's very easy to see that as it reads in much the same way. It just felt like one big rant with no real purpose other than to vent or reminisce while reflecting on how he's changed.

I empathise with how he felt after he left TNG and batteled with his existence and lack of work but at the end of the day it wasn't a great piece of literature just a collection of rants.more
This memoir is straight forward, honest and funny. Well done Wil! There are two sides to every story. Thank you for revealing yours.more
The strength of Wil Wheaton's memoir is his willingness to bare his soul, flaws and everything. His heart-on-sleeve style is nearly too much for me, but I can't help but admire his courage to be this honest. No doubt much of his strength comes from his supportive spouse and kids. Any person seeking answers in life would be lucky to have the family he has.Just a Geek chronicles Mr. Wheaton's personal journey from successful child actor (Stand By Me, Star Trek: TNG) to a man in his early 30's searching for his niche. He uses a writing format of reprinting his blog posts and then commenting on them which works rather well. He wrote an earlier book called Dancing Barefoot which probably has more to say about the period of time just after he left Star Trek. This book basically starts with his first blog and the creation of his website.more
Another funny, bittersweet collection of anecdotes. Extremely readable, especially if you've ever liked Star Trek, been a geek, or just doubted your path in life.more
This was a pretty fast read for me (done in a day), maybe partially due to the fact that I've followed Wheaton's blog for quite a few years and was familiar with the blog posts that he included. The material joining together the posts was new and really held it together as a continuous story. It's definitely worthwhile to read if you're at all curious about how a child actor can make the transition toward being a writer. It would be neat to see version 2.0 which could include his forays into the world of poker.more
I saw Wil Wheaton speak at DragonCon 2011. He told the story of the time he first met William Shatner, and he was hillarious! I bought this book hoping for more of the same, and I was NOT disappointed. His book is an easy read that has you angry, sad, and laughing out loud as you learn a little about his life and also what it means to be a struggling actor. I can't wait to read Dancing Barefoot!more
I actually knew of Wil Wheaton as a writer before I ever saw him on TNG. (I fell firmly on the Star Wars side of the Star Trek vs. Star Wars debate when I was growing up.) But he was writing his website and being a geek and staying up all night playing Diablo II at the same time I was. (I remember reading The Trade when it was posted.) So a lot of this book was very nostalgic for me. I mean, I used to be very active online and many of my oldest friends are people who I originally met online. I loved this part of the book.The other part, which was more depressing, was that Wil was describing his transition between careers and all the frustrations and rejections that this entails. Which is what is going on in our household right now. ("It was between you and the other guy, and we went with the other guy.") It was great to read about how it worked out well for Wil, but it is kind of hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel personally. I feel like something like this is much better to read in retrospect.more
Wil Wheaton is best known for playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation during his teenage years, a fact which has caused him a lot of difficulties and mixed feelings, from bearing the brunt of fans' hatred of his character to spending most of his adult life second-guessing his decision to leave the show to pursue a film career that never materialized. These days, he has successfully reinvented himself as a writer, largely thanks to his blog, wilwheaton.net, which has gained quite a following among the geekier sections of the internet population, not all of whom are reading because they're interested in Star Trek. This book is about that personal journey, and about his lifelong, love-hate attempts to come to terms with Star Trek and his with his child-actor past. It's very honest-feeling, often very funny, and sometimes surprisingly moving. A fair amount of the book does consist of material originally posted on his blog, most of which I'd seen before, but I found I didn't at all mind reading it again, and there's also a lot of new material, much of which helps put the blog posts in context. All in all, an enjoyable read by a sympathetic and likeable guy.more
I'm not a fan of biographies or memories. I find them to be self-glorified, embellished tales written by ego-centric individuals looking to capture (or capture) their fifteen minutes of fame. Wil Wheaton is not that guy and Just A Geek is not that kind of memoir. It is well-written, brutally honest, intriguing and filled with enough pathos that you truly care about this guy, and what he's been though - whether you know him or not. For those that don't know Wheaton, he was the youngest cast member on a little tv show called Star Trek: The Next Generation. But this book is MORE than just a 30-something actor remembering his teen years. It's about a man trying to be a good husband, a good father, and overall, a good person. It's about a man being unemployed and struggling with his self-identity. It's about a man coming to realize what is truly important in his life, and being ok with it. At no time does Wheaton hold back -- he puts it all out there in a truly refreshing and honest way that often is lacking in these celebrity memoirs. Proof that Wheaton is not just a good actor, but also a great writer. Here's hoping he'll write more.more
I rarely read memoirs or autobiographies - in fact, the last one I can remember reading, clearly, was when I was in eighth grade or so. I think this is because, for the most part, I can be amused or sympathetic with the narrator, but in the end, I just can't care about them enough for the actual details of a real life to be compelling to me (I have a different experience with fiction, for some reason). Just A Geek won't convert me to the memoir genre, but it stands out as a marvellous, honest, open and passionate book that I thoroughly enjoyed - sometimes actually laughing out loud, and sometimes feeling my eyes prickle.Wil Wheaton talks about his struggles to understand what is important to him, in his life, and some of the mistakes he makes along the way. He is honest about his mistakes and failings - his own anger and hangups and all the worst parts. He discusses how difficult celebrity at a young age was for him, especially when, post Star Trek, that celebrity didn't carry on in terms of work and exposure the way he hoped it would. He is unflinching in this book, and deeply compelling. Wheaton writes about the people in his life - those he loves, like his family; those he doesn't know well, like many of his blog readers; and those who have treated him poorly, like some "fans" and directors - with empathy, compassion, and, where appropriate, gratitude - and also without hesitating to stick up for himself when he feels he's been treated badly. He clearly cares about being a good human being, a wonderful father and husband, and a creator who can be proud of his works.Never before have I read a book where I have ended my reading thinking, man, is this guy someone I would very much like to be friends with. Never before, too, have I felt so inspired by someone who strives to be the best person he can be in the context of, at least in many respects, a very normal life. It is hard to feel like you can be a good person, sometimes, if you're not Overcoming Adversity or Saving the World, but by example (never by preaching), Wheaton lives that out, and we can all be inspired by it. One of the most touching motifs for me is Wheaton's gratitude to his fans and supporters. He writes with an awareness that he is part of a community of people, and that we all need one another for different things - that no man is an island. I think you will like this book if you are inspired by people growing in spite of themselves and in spite of obstacles; if you appreciate and admire gratitude and effort, and if honesty, humour and affection appeal to you. After finishing the final pages here, I went out and picked up everything else he's written.more
The story most people are familiar with is Wil Wheaton's appearance in Stand By Me, followed by his portrayal of the oft-maligned Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, after which he completely fell off the radar. In a sense, this is the story of What Happened to Wil Wheaton After Star Trek. But it's more than that, too. It is an unabashedly honest (and often hilarious) account of one man's journey from struggling and extremely insecure actor to confident and content writer. Though it probably helps to be at least passingly familiar with the Star Trek universe, you don't have to be a die-hard fan to appreciate Wheaton's writing. He learns and shares many lessons about regret, validation, and acceptance. I devoured this book in about a day and enjoyed every minute of it. Wheaton has lots of very good and important things to say about acting, blogging, and celebrity, but there is also plenty of humor to keep things rolling. Definitely recommended.more
Wow, what can one say about this?? Wil Wheaton is simply amazing. His writing warms your heart, fills you with laughter and tears, and pulls you into his life so well that you can't help but fall in love with the man. I simply cannot write about this in an objective detached manner, and I don't feel I should have to, as that is completely the opposite of Wil Wheaton's writing! So allow me to delve right into the personal here. This book made me smile constantly, giggle, chuckle, and have full belly-busting laughter. This book ALSO made me shed tears, and seethe in anger at the people who have wronged him. He tells it all so well, that you feel as though you were right there with him, experiencing all his amusement, his sadness, and his hurt. Quite frankly, when I finished reading it I wished he were the real-life friend I felt like I had made when absorbing his book. I would give it 100 stars if I could!more
Wil Wheaton is fun and sometimes deliciously humorous in this book. Although at times the book takes a serious turn, Wil never loses his optimism. He talks about his early acting years and his time on the set of Star Trek: TNG. I found that chapter to be highly entertaining, educational and enlightening. You never really know what goes on behind the set. Wil is one of those attainable celebrities (as attainable as they get in the age of the internet), and currently blogs, and has a flickr page as well where he shares pictures of the more interesting snippets of his life. In this book he talks about his geekness with a lightness of heart, although I don’t think he’s a geek at all. Wil is still a classy actor and a great author.more
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)In case I've never mentioned it, since opening CCLaP I've had a growing amount of friends here in Chicago start to loan me older books on a regular basis, simply because they're interested in seeing what I have to say about them; that's how I ended up with Just A Geek, for example, the 2004 personal memoir and "blog-book" by former child actor and now respected writer Wil Wheaton, loaned to me by my friend Jude the other week, while I was over at her place watching the series finale of Battlestar Galactica. (And speaking of which, whoo man what a series finale...but that's a whole other frakking essay for a whole other frakking day.) And indeed, it's highly appropriate that a show like BSG should lead to me reading this book; because for those who don't know, Wheaton is perhaps best-known among the general public for his teenaged role in the seminal '80s science-fiction TV actioner Star Trek: The Next Generation, a show so immersed now in the popular culture that it still follows/haunts him to this day.What many people forget, though, is that Wheaton was already a gifted and celebrated child actor even going into that show; his breakthrough performance in Rob Reiner's Stand By Me, for example, is considered by many to be even better than most adult actors, and the film to this day still holds up surprisingly great. And so like David Caruso and Julianna Margulies and a thousand other arrogant young actors before them, Wheaton famously quit Star Trek in his late teens before the series had run its course, in order to go off and become the big movie star he was convinced he was destined to be; and it was then that his acting career promptly fell flat on its face, with Wheaton suffering years upon years of constant second- and third-place auditions but never once actually clinching another major job. And so like many others in that position, that led him to the so-called "Hollywood ghetto" of fan conventions, eBay auctions and more; but unlike most others, Wheaton also turned to confessional writing at the same time, not only putting his life back together again post-child-prodigy but also publicly chronicling the process, starting with a personal journal at the old Geocities online community long before the invention of the term "blog."And that's when the big surprise came out -- that Wheaton might possibly be just as good a writer as he is an actor, and that his blog is far more than the whiny navel-gazing exercise in egomania we expect from celebrities in that position. (And to make it clear, I've been a reader and fan of Wheaton's blog itself for years now, long before reading this bound collection.) Because the fact is that Wheaton as a confessional writer is sweet and disarming at points, opinionated and political at others, with an intuitive understanding of the three-act structure and how to apply such a thing subtly to almost all of his entries; his blog posts tend to be much more like standalone literary stories than the Twitter-like stream of inane babble so plaguing the internet these days, and reading a chunk of his archives in one sitting can be surprisingly similar to sitting and reading a short-story collection. And along the way, of course, he dishes up just a whole mound of the insider Hollywood dirt we expect and love from such celebrity blogs, stories of humiliating auditions and assh-le directors and megalomaniacal actors and all the rest. (For example, a running joke at the site is that William Shatner is always referred to as WILLIAM F-CKING SHATNER, because of a hilarious story concerning one of the first times Wheaton ever met him; and I have to confess, I still laugh out loud each and every time Wheaton refers to him that way.)So it would make sense, then, that a publisher in the early 2000s would end up putting out a bound collection of Wheaton's best entries; after all, these were the same years that dozens of other so-called "blog-books" were being pumped out by a floundering, clueless mainstream publishing industry, desperate to grab ahold of any fleeting trend no matter how worthless and then proceed to beat that worthless trend right into the ground. Because that's the problem with blog-books, as we've all learned by now; blog-books f-cking suck, and have turned out just a few years after their popular height to have all the staying power of some crazy little old woman throwing her hands in the air and screeching, "WHERE'S THE BEEF! WHERE'S THE BEEF!" And that's why it was so smart of Wheaton to do what he did for his own blog-book; namely, to make the actual blog entries take up only half or so of the finished manuscript, with the other half being a much more traditional memoir that ties all these scattered postings together, and helps give them behind-the-scenes context away from the blog itself.Because if there's one thing to be learned from that horrible spate of other blog-books in the early 2000s, it'd be this -- that the mundane trivialities of a complete stranger can actually be kind of enjoyable when read in chunks of only a few paragraphs a day, every single day, but quickly becomes an unreadable mess when trying to consume dozens of pages in a single session, and without knowing anything about that author beforehand. And in this you can view personal blogs much like little soap operas, where the enjoyment is not necessarily from the quality of any particular episode but rather in getting swept up in the grander overall scheme, of getting to know these characters and their lives in the same complex way we know the people in our own personal lives. And I don't think there's anything wrong with enjoying a creative project in this way, and indeed there are several dozen personal blogs I too follow along with regularly; but there's a reason that Hollywood doesn't just grab four random episodes a year of Days Of Our Lives and release them as a big-budget feature film, just like we've now all learned what the problem is with doing the same thing concerning blog entries and full-length paper books.Wheaton understands all this, and so did something even more remarkable than usual with Just A Geek; he not only reprinted many of these original entries, but also wrote a brand-new concurrent tale about what a bunch of half-lies so many of them were when he originally posted them, of just how many of his cheery, optimistic entries concerning "just-missed-it" auditions (to cite just one good example) were in fact masking the overwhelming frustration and depression he was actually experiencing at the time. (And in fact Wheaton even cleverly personifies this narcissistic self-doubt in the actual book, naming him "Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn't A Mistake" and constantly getting into fights with the arrogant doppleganger.) And this is courageous of Wheaton to do, because it confirms the fragile egos and almost pathological self-loathing that so many of us suspect reside in the hearts of most celebrities; and this from an industry, Wheaton himself reminds us, where most celebrities spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on publicists precisely so such information won't get out to the public.It's what saves this manuscript from the usual trappings of both blog-books and celebrity memoirs, and what makes it by the end a legitimate piece of decent literature, despite the admittedly sometimes subpar quality of the writing itself (be prepared for lots of emoticons and stories about boobs); because Wheaton understands what the true power of a personal memoir is, the chance to honestly and unflinchingly look back on a life experience and actually learn something from it, to not only change as a person but also describe the process to others, in the hopes that it will help them understand something about their own lives too. This is the real reason to read Just A Geek, apart from the titillating schauenfreude of, say, learning what a dick Rick Berman is (I knew it!); it's to understand much more universal truths than this, to learn for example that changing careers at the age of thirty can certainly be challenging but is also certainly possible, even if you happen to be a celebrated child actor who once starred on a beloved Emmy-winning television show.It's details like these that show what a naturally solid writer Wheaton is; and although it has its faults (Cheese And Rice, Wil, enough with the f-cking pets), I have to admit that I found Just A Geek a rather remarkable specimen, perhaps the only celebrity-memoir blog-book in history to read neither like a celebrity memoir nor a blog-book. It makes me intensely curious now to see what Wheaton could do with other long-form writing formats, and I would highly encourage him for example to finally sit down soon and try his hand at a full novel or screenplay. If this book is any indication, there's a very good chance of something like that coming out surprisingly great; and that's the best reason I can think of to read this memoir in the first place.more
I admit, I caught myself crying on the plane home as I was reading this book. I wouldn't have thought I'd find myself identifying so much with the stories in an actor's biography, but Wil Wheaton has an amazing gift for telling stories about life, love, geekery, and just plain growing up. These stories are taken from his popular blog, but Just a Geek strings them together and fills them out into a coherent story that transcends the blog-style snippets of life. His over-arching story about trying to prove oneself, as well as learning what "proving oneself" really meant for him is really touching.more
I've never really thought too much about Wesley Crusher to tell the truth. Yes, enjoyed the heck out of Star Trek TNG (if you watch my home movies of when my son was small in the '90s always in the background is either STTNG or NASCAR, depending if my husband was home or not), but I was never a Trekkie inspired to dress up and go to conventions or pay more than passing interest in the fact that this character moved on to other things. However, from reading this book I guess Wesley's desertion of the Enterprise was a much bigger event, world changing even, to those who loved and/or hated the character respectively and particularly to Wil Wheaton, who has been emotionally reeling from his decision for all these many years. I never knew!Although the title claims Unflinching honest tales of the search for life, love and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise this is primarily a story of how Wil Wheaton has come to terms with the effect Star Trek has had on his life and really doesn't move very far past that. His blog, also featured here, is a large part of how Mr. Wheaton is accomplishing this. But, this is just fine with me because if it hadn't been for the Star Trek aspect I would have never picked this book up considering the thing I remember him for most other than the big 2 (STTNG and Stand by Me) is his appearance on The Weakest Link where he acted like the world's biggest a**hole. Frankly, in the part that touched upon his Weakest Link appearance I was shocked that he made no mention of this and I read through the rest of the book thinking, "if he doesn't realize how much of a jerk he was then, I can't really take this book at face value." Thankfully, in one of the Appendixes he addresses a question about the appearance, and said he was "acting" the part since the studio just wanted to make the host look good anyway *big sigh of relief* I was very happy about this considering how much I enjoyed the book.I absolutely do not pity Mr. Wheaton for the decision he made that so irrevocably changed his life, he manages to do this quite well all on his own without my assistance. He does do a lot of bellyaching about being haunted by the ghosts of his consciousness, "Prove to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn't A Mistake" and "Self Doubt". Actually, considering the amount of complaining, you would think this memoir would be a miserable read. It Is Not. No, I didn't find it exceedingly hilarious (except for the part about Jonathan Frakes running into the door during a scene), but it was interesting. Mr. Wheaton managed to keep me hooked, the writing was smooth and entertaining and I loved his honest declarations of his feelings towards his fellow actors and the acting industry. In fact, I can totally empathize with a lot of what he's feeling. The pettyish overreactions to slights (real or imagined, will we ever know?) by ST producer Rick Berman rather mirror my own reactions in comparable situations and the resentfulness towards those who criticize you or worse, ignore you. I could totally feel for him.Overall I thought this book was really "cool" :-) I read every last word right through the appendixes and into the acknowledgements, which I would usually never do with a biography. Although I probably won't be an avid daily reader of his blog as I found the other parts of this book more interesting than those entries, I wouldn't completely discount the possibility of a little look-see. I am now curious to see how things are going with this conflicted man, he is an interesting character in and of himself, even without a script.more
For the second time, reading a blog made me want to read the blogger's books. Unfortunately, my library only had this one, but I'll find Dancing Barefoot sometime. The book is excerpts from his early blogging and expanded stories about what he'd written then. Wil talks about some very emotional subjects in this book; some stories brought tears to my eyes and a number of the stories made me laugh out loud (quite a feat for any written text).more
Wil Wheaton -- he's not just Wesley Crusher anymore. In fact, he's a real-life geek.This is Wheaton's longer book of short, autobiographical stories. His way with words will make you laugh and make you cry. I've found both of his books, and his blog, to be real inspirations.more
Very enjoyable book by the Star Trek: The Next Generation actor who documents "the next act" in his life after playing the insufferable Wesley Crusher.more
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Reviews

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting when I read this. I had heard of Wil Wheaton through Star Trek and then over the last couple years popping up all over the net but never really looked further. I've never been a reader of his blog.

I think the reason I picked it up was because I was curious as to why I was starting to see him or references to him in all my favourite webcomics, etc. And after reading this book I'm still not sure why.

This book really felt like it was missing something. I know it was adapted from the work he has done on his blog and it's very easy to see that as it reads in much the same way. It just felt like one big rant with no real purpose other than to vent or reminisce while reflecting on how he's changed.

I empathise with how he felt after he left TNG and batteled with his existence and lack of work but at the end of the day it wasn't a great piece of literature just a collection of rants.more
This memoir is straight forward, honest and funny. Well done Wil! There are two sides to every story. Thank you for revealing yours.more
The strength of Wil Wheaton's memoir is his willingness to bare his soul, flaws and everything. His heart-on-sleeve style is nearly too much for me, but I can't help but admire his courage to be this honest. No doubt much of his strength comes from his supportive spouse and kids. Any person seeking answers in life would be lucky to have the family he has.Just a Geek chronicles Mr. Wheaton's personal journey from successful child actor (Stand By Me, Star Trek: TNG) to a man in his early 30's searching for his niche. He uses a writing format of reprinting his blog posts and then commenting on them which works rather well. He wrote an earlier book called Dancing Barefoot which probably has more to say about the period of time just after he left Star Trek. This book basically starts with his first blog and the creation of his website.more
Another funny, bittersweet collection of anecdotes. Extremely readable, especially if you've ever liked Star Trek, been a geek, or just doubted your path in life.more
This was a pretty fast read for me (done in a day), maybe partially due to the fact that I've followed Wheaton's blog for quite a few years and was familiar with the blog posts that he included. The material joining together the posts was new and really held it together as a continuous story. It's definitely worthwhile to read if you're at all curious about how a child actor can make the transition toward being a writer. It would be neat to see version 2.0 which could include his forays into the world of poker.more
I saw Wil Wheaton speak at DragonCon 2011. He told the story of the time he first met William Shatner, and he was hillarious! I bought this book hoping for more of the same, and I was NOT disappointed. His book is an easy read that has you angry, sad, and laughing out loud as you learn a little about his life and also what it means to be a struggling actor. I can't wait to read Dancing Barefoot!more
I actually knew of Wil Wheaton as a writer before I ever saw him on TNG. (I fell firmly on the Star Wars side of the Star Trek vs. Star Wars debate when I was growing up.) But he was writing his website and being a geek and staying up all night playing Diablo II at the same time I was. (I remember reading The Trade when it was posted.) So a lot of this book was very nostalgic for me. I mean, I used to be very active online and many of my oldest friends are people who I originally met online. I loved this part of the book.The other part, which was more depressing, was that Wil was describing his transition between careers and all the frustrations and rejections that this entails. Which is what is going on in our household right now. ("It was between you and the other guy, and we went with the other guy.") It was great to read about how it worked out well for Wil, but it is kind of hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel personally. I feel like something like this is much better to read in retrospect.more
Wil Wheaton is best known for playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation during his teenage years, a fact which has caused him a lot of difficulties and mixed feelings, from bearing the brunt of fans' hatred of his character to spending most of his adult life second-guessing his decision to leave the show to pursue a film career that never materialized. These days, he has successfully reinvented himself as a writer, largely thanks to his blog, wilwheaton.net, which has gained quite a following among the geekier sections of the internet population, not all of whom are reading because they're interested in Star Trek. This book is about that personal journey, and about his lifelong, love-hate attempts to come to terms with Star Trek and his with his child-actor past. It's very honest-feeling, often very funny, and sometimes surprisingly moving. A fair amount of the book does consist of material originally posted on his blog, most of which I'd seen before, but I found I didn't at all mind reading it again, and there's also a lot of new material, much of which helps put the blog posts in context. All in all, an enjoyable read by a sympathetic and likeable guy.more
I'm not a fan of biographies or memories. I find them to be self-glorified, embellished tales written by ego-centric individuals looking to capture (or capture) their fifteen minutes of fame. Wil Wheaton is not that guy and Just A Geek is not that kind of memoir. It is well-written, brutally honest, intriguing and filled with enough pathos that you truly care about this guy, and what he's been though - whether you know him or not. For those that don't know Wheaton, he was the youngest cast member on a little tv show called Star Trek: The Next Generation. But this book is MORE than just a 30-something actor remembering his teen years. It's about a man trying to be a good husband, a good father, and overall, a good person. It's about a man being unemployed and struggling with his self-identity. It's about a man coming to realize what is truly important in his life, and being ok with it. At no time does Wheaton hold back -- he puts it all out there in a truly refreshing and honest way that often is lacking in these celebrity memoirs. Proof that Wheaton is not just a good actor, but also a great writer. Here's hoping he'll write more.more
I rarely read memoirs or autobiographies - in fact, the last one I can remember reading, clearly, was when I was in eighth grade or so. I think this is because, for the most part, I can be amused or sympathetic with the narrator, but in the end, I just can't care about them enough for the actual details of a real life to be compelling to me (I have a different experience with fiction, for some reason). Just A Geek won't convert me to the memoir genre, but it stands out as a marvellous, honest, open and passionate book that I thoroughly enjoyed - sometimes actually laughing out loud, and sometimes feeling my eyes prickle.Wil Wheaton talks about his struggles to understand what is important to him, in his life, and some of the mistakes he makes along the way. He is honest about his mistakes and failings - his own anger and hangups and all the worst parts. He discusses how difficult celebrity at a young age was for him, especially when, post Star Trek, that celebrity didn't carry on in terms of work and exposure the way he hoped it would. He is unflinching in this book, and deeply compelling. Wheaton writes about the people in his life - those he loves, like his family; those he doesn't know well, like many of his blog readers; and those who have treated him poorly, like some "fans" and directors - with empathy, compassion, and, where appropriate, gratitude - and also without hesitating to stick up for himself when he feels he's been treated badly. He clearly cares about being a good human being, a wonderful father and husband, and a creator who can be proud of his works.Never before have I read a book where I have ended my reading thinking, man, is this guy someone I would very much like to be friends with. Never before, too, have I felt so inspired by someone who strives to be the best person he can be in the context of, at least in many respects, a very normal life. It is hard to feel like you can be a good person, sometimes, if you're not Overcoming Adversity or Saving the World, but by example (never by preaching), Wheaton lives that out, and we can all be inspired by it. One of the most touching motifs for me is Wheaton's gratitude to his fans and supporters. He writes with an awareness that he is part of a community of people, and that we all need one another for different things - that no man is an island. I think you will like this book if you are inspired by people growing in spite of themselves and in spite of obstacles; if you appreciate and admire gratitude and effort, and if honesty, humour and affection appeal to you. After finishing the final pages here, I went out and picked up everything else he's written.more
The story most people are familiar with is Wil Wheaton's appearance in Stand By Me, followed by his portrayal of the oft-maligned Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, after which he completely fell off the radar. In a sense, this is the story of What Happened to Wil Wheaton After Star Trek. But it's more than that, too. It is an unabashedly honest (and often hilarious) account of one man's journey from struggling and extremely insecure actor to confident and content writer. Though it probably helps to be at least passingly familiar with the Star Trek universe, you don't have to be a die-hard fan to appreciate Wheaton's writing. He learns and shares many lessons about regret, validation, and acceptance. I devoured this book in about a day and enjoyed every minute of it. Wheaton has lots of very good and important things to say about acting, blogging, and celebrity, but there is also plenty of humor to keep things rolling. Definitely recommended.more
Wow, what can one say about this?? Wil Wheaton is simply amazing. His writing warms your heart, fills you with laughter and tears, and pulls you into his life so well that you can't help but fall in love with the man. I simply cannot write about this in an objective detached manner, and I don't feel I should have to, as that is completely the opposite of Wil Wheaton's writing! So allow me to delve right into the personal here. This book made me smile constantly, giggle, chuckle, and have full belly-busting laughter. This book ALSO made me shed tears, and seethe in anger at the people who have wronged him. He tells it all so well, that you feel as though you were right there with him, experiencing all his amusement, his sadness, and his hurt. Quite frankly, when I finished reading it I wished he were the real-life friend I felt like I had made when absorbing his book. I would give it 100 stars if I could!more
Wil Wheaton is fun and sometimes deliciously humorous in this book. Although at times the book takes a serious turn, Wil never loses his optimism. He talks about his early acting years and his time on the set of Star Trek: TNG. I found that chapter to be highly entertaining, educational and enlightening. You never really know what goes on behind the set. Wil is one of those attainable celebrities (as attainable as they get in the age of the internet), and currently blogs, and has a flickr page as well where he shares pictures of the more interesting snippets of his life. In this book he talks about his geekness with a lightness of heart, although I don’t think he’s a geek at all. Wil is still a classy actor and a great author.more
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)In case I've never mentioned it, since opening CCLaP I've had a growing amount of friends here in Chicago start to loan me older books on a regular basis, simply because they're interested in seeing what I have to say about them; that's how I ended up with Just A Geek, for example, the 2004 personal memoir and "blog-book" by former child actor and now respected writer Wil Wheaton, loaned to me by my friend Jude the other week, while I was over at her place watching the series finale of Battlestar Galactica. (And speaking of which, whoo man what a series finale...but that's a whole other frakking essay for a whole other frakking day.) And indeed, it's highly appropriate that a show like BSG should lead to me reading this book; because for those who don't know, Wheaton is perhaps best-known among the general public for his teenaged role in the seminal '80s science-fiction TV actioner Star Trek: The Next Generation, a show so immersed now in the popular culture that it still follows/haunts him to this day.What many people forget, though, is that Wheaton was already a gifted and celebrated child actor even going into that show; his breakthrough performance in Rob Reiner's Stand By Me, for example, is considered by many to be even better than most adult actors, and the film to this day still holds up surprisingly great. And so like David Caruso and Julianna Margulies and a thousand other arrogant young actors before them, Wheaton famously quit Star Trek in his late teens before the series had run its course, in order to go off and become the big movie star he was convinced he was destined to be; and it was then that his acting career promptly fell flat on its face, with Wheaton suffering years upon years of constant second- and third-place auditions but never once actually clinching another major job. And so like many others in that position, that led him to the so-called "Hollywood ghetto" of fan conventions, eBay auctions and more; but unlike most others, Wheaton also turned to confessional writing at the same time, not only putting his life back together again post-child-prodigy but also publicly chronicling the process, starting with a personal journal at the old Geocities online community long before the invention of the term "blog."And that's when the big surprise came out -- that Wheaton might possibly be just as good a writer as he is an actor, and that his blog is far more than the whiny navel-gazing exercise in egomania we expect from celebrities in that position. (And to make it clear, I've been a reader and fan of Wheaton's blog itself for years now, long before reading this bound collection.) Because the fact is that Wheaton as a confessional writer is sweet and disarming at points, opinionated and political at others, with an intuitive understanding of the three-act structure and how to apply such a thing subtly to almost all of his entries; his blog posts tend to be much more like standalone literary stories than the Twitter-like stream of inane babble so plaguing the internet these days, and reading a chunk of his archives in one sitting can be surprisingly similar to sitting and reading a short-story collection. And along the way, of course, he dishes up just a whole mound of the insider Hollywood dirt we expect and love from such celebrity blogs, stories of humiliating auditions and assh-le directors and megalomaniacal actors and all the rest. (For example, a running joke at the site is that William Shatner is always referred to as WILLIAM F-CKING SHATNER, because of a hilarious story concerning one of the first times Wheaton ever met him; and I have to confess, I still laugh out loud each and every time Wheaton refers to him that way.)So it would make sense, then, that a publisher in the early 2000s would end up putting out a bound collection of Wheaton's best entries; after all, these were the same years that dozens of other so-called "blog-books" were being pumped out by a floundering, clueless mainstream publishing industry, desperate to grab ahold of any fleeting trend no matter how worthless and then proceed to beat that worthless trend right into the ground. Because that's the problem with blog-books, as we've all learned by now; blog-books f-cking suck, and have turned out just a few years after their popular height to have all the staying power of some crazy little old woman throwing her hands in the air and screeching, "WHERE'S THE BEEF! WHERE'S THE BEEF!" And that's why it was so smart of Wheaton to do what he did for his own blog-book; namely, to make the actual blog entries take up only half or so of the finished manuscript, with the other half being a much more traditional memoir that ties all these scattered postings together, and helps give them behind-the-scenes context away from the blog itself.Because if there's one thing to be learned from that horrible spate of other blog-books in the early 2000s, it'd be this -- that the mundane trivialities of a complete stranger can actually be kind of enjoyable when read in chunks of only a few paragraphs a day, every single day, but quickly becomes an unreadable mess when trying to consume dozens of pages in a single session, and without knowing anything about that author beforehand. And in this you can view personal blogs much like little soap operas, where the enjoyment is not necessarily from the quality of any particular episode but rather in getting swept up in the grander overall scheme, of getting to know these characters and their lives in the same complex way we know the people in our own personal lives. And I don't think there's anything wrong with enjoying a creative project in this way, and indeed there are several dozen personal blogs I too follow along with regularly; but there's a reason that Hollywood doesn't just grab four random episodes a year of Days Of Our Lives and release them as a big-budget feature film, just like we've now all learned what the problem is with doing the same thing concerning blog entries and full-length paper books.Wheaton understands all this, and so did something even more remarkable than usual with Just A Geek; he not only reprinted many of these original entries, but also wrote a brand-new concurrent tale about what a bunch of half-lies so many of them were when he originally posted them, of just how many of his cheery, optimistic entries concerning "just-missed-it" auditions (to cite just one good example) were in fact masking the overwhelming frustration and depression he was actually experiencing at the time. (And in fact Wheaton even cleverly personifies this narcissistic self-doubt in the actual book, naming him "Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn't A Mistake" and constantly getting into fights with the arrogant doppleganger.) And this is courageous of Wheaton to do, because it confirms the fragile egos and almost pathological self-loathing that so many of us suspect reside in the hearts of most celebrities; and this from an industry, Wheaton himself reminds us, where most celebrities spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on publicists precisely so such information won't get out to the public.It's what saves this manuscript from the usual trappings of both blog-books and celebrity memoirs, and what makes it by the end a legitimate piece of decent literature, despite the admittedly sometimes subpar quality of the writing itself (be prepared for lots of emoticons and stories about boobs); because Wheaton understands what the true power of a personal memoir is, the chance to honestly and unflinchingly look back on a life experience and actually learn something from it, to not only change as a person but also describe the process to others, in the hopes that it will help them understand something about their own lives too. This is the real reason to read Just A Geek, apart from the titillating schauenfreude of, say, learning what a dick Rick Berman is (I knew it!); it's to understand much more universal truths than this, to learn for example that changing careers at the age of thirty can certainly be challenging but is also certainly possible, even if you happen to be a celebrated child actor who once starred on a beloved Emmy-winning television show.It's details like these that show what a naturally solid writer Wheaton is; and although it has its faults (Cheese And Rice, Wil, enough with the f-cking pets), I have to admit that I found Just A Geek a rather remarkable specimen, perhaps the only celebrity-memoir blog-book in history to read neither like a celebrity memoir nor a blog-book. It makes me intensely curious now to see what Wheaton could do with other long-form writing formats, and I would highly encourage him for example to finally sit down soon and try his hand at a full novel or screenplay. If this book is any indication, there's a very good chance of something like that coming out surprisingly great; and that's the best reason I can think of to read this memoir in the first place.more
I admit, I caught myself crying on the plane home as I was reading this book. I wouldn't have thought I'd find myself identifying so much with the stories in an actor's biography, but Wil Wheaton has an amazing gift for telling stories about life, love, geekery, and just plain growing up. These stories are taken from his popular blog, but Just a Geek strings them together and fills them out into a coherent story that transcends the blog-style snippets of life. His over-arching story about trying to prove oneself, as well as learning what "proving oneself" really meant for him is really touching.more
I've never really thought too much about Wesley Crusher to tell the truth. Yes, enjoyed the heck out of Star Trek TNG (if you watch my home movies of when my son was small in the '90s always in the background is either STTNG or NASCAR, depending if my husband was home or not), but I was never a Trekkie inspired to dress up and go to conventions or pay more than passing interest in the fact that this character moved on to other things. However, from reading this book I guess Wesley's desertion of the Enterprise was a much bigger event, world changing even, to those who loved and/or hated the character respectively and particularly to Wil Wheaton, who has been emotionally reeling from his decision for all these many years. I never knew!Although the title claims Unflinching honest tales of the search for life, love and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise this is primarily a story of how Wil Wheaton has come to terms with the effect Star Trek has had on his life and really doesn't move very far past that. His blog, also featured here, is a large part of how Mr. Wheaton is accomplishing this. But, this is just fine with me because if it hadn't been for the Star Trek aspect I would have never picked this book up considering the thing I remember him for most other than the big 2 (STTNG and Stand by Me) is his appearance on The Weakest Link where he acted like the world's biggest a**hole. Frankly, in the part that touched upon his Weakest Link appearance I was shocked that he made no mention of this and I read through the rest of the book thinking, "if he doesn't realize how much of a jerk he was then, I can't really take this book at face value." Thankfully, in one of the Appendixes he addresses a question about the appearance, and said he was "acting" the part since the studio just wanted to make the host look good anyway *big sigh of relief* I was very happy about this considering how much I enjoyed the book.I absolutely do not pity Mr. Wheaton for the decision he made that so irrevocably changed his life, he manages to do this quite well all on his own without my assistance. He does do a lot of bellyaching about being haunted by the ghosts of his consciousness, "Prove to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn't A Mistake" and "Self Doubt". Actually, considering the amount of complaining, you would think this memoir would be a miserable read. It Is Not. No, I didn't find it exceedingly hilarious (except for the part about Jonathan Frakes running into the door during a scene), but it was interesting. Mr. Wheaton managed to keep me hooked, the writing was smooth and entertaining and I loved his honest declarations of his feelings towards his fellow actors and the acting industry. In fact, I can totally empathize with a lot of what he's feeling. The pettyish overreactions to slights (real or imagined, will we ever know?) by ST producer Rick Berman rather mirror my own reactions in comparable situations and the resentfulness towards those who criticize you or worse, ignore you. I could totally feel for him.Overall I thought this book was really "cool" :-) I read every last word right through the appendixes and into the acknowledgements, which I would usually never do with a biography. Although I probably won't be an avid daily reader of his blog as I found the other parts of this book more interesting than those entries, I wouldn't completely discount the possibility of a little look-see. I am now curious to see how things are going with this conflicted man, he is an interesting character in and of himself, even without a script.more
For the second time, reading a blog made me want to read the blogger's books. Unfortunately, my library only had this one, but I'll find Dancing Barefoot sometime. The book is excerpts from his early blogging and expanded stories about what he'd written then. Wil talks about some very emotional subjects in this book; some stories brought tears to my eyes and a number of the stories made me laugh out loud (quite a feat for any written text).more
Wil Wheaton -- he's not just Wesley Crusher anymore. In fact, he's a real-life geek.This is Wheaton's longer book of short, autobiographical stories. His way with words will make you laugh and make you cry. I've found both of his books, and his blog, to be real inspirations.more
Very enjoyable book by the Star Trek: The Next Generation actor who documents "the next act" in his life after playing the insufferable Wesley Crusher.more
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