Like many, during my grade school years, I was a Girl Scout. Over the years I learned to cook white bread-and-jelly pot pies over a campfire, how to tie a square knot (left over right and through, right over left and through), and sold hundreds of boxes of cookies. I also earned my share of merit badges, displaying them proudly on my sash. Years later, my kids also joined scouts, and my son went on to earn his Eagle. So I was intrigued when I saw mention of Meghan Murphy‘s new book, Geek Merit Badges, on Twitter, and promptly requested a review copy.
The book offers ten badges in each of four categories. Discovery badges, such as Time and Time Again, Origin Story, and Awkwardness Adept, address your geeky origins. Absorption badges, such as Constant Collector, Game Master, and Speak the Language showcase your passions. Transmission badges, such as Mighty Mentor, Disaster Preparedness, and Keeper of Traditions, offer ways to share your enthusiasm. And the Creation badges, such as Fan Fiction, Cosplay Commando, and Crafty Crafter, allow you to show off how your geekiness inspires you to make. This last section would perhaps be of most interest to GeekCrafts readers! Each badge starts with relevant quote that offers the opportunity for readers to test their pop culture recognition skills (“Never give up. Never surrender.”), and various examples of “have you ever…” kind of scenarios.
I really enjoyed Murphy’s writing style and conversational tone. I felt like she was one of my “tribe” (or I was one of hers). I appreciate how she has put something out there to gather the geek community and help them find relatable and shareable experiences.
That said, the book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. As a former Girl Scout, and mother of an Eagle Scout, I was expecting a series of geeky tasks that one could attempt, check off and earn a badge by completing a specific number of assignments. I envisioned, upon earning a badge, one could order a physical embroidered patch, similar to scout badges, to display on a jean jacket or messenger bag, and recognize geeky accomplishments in others with similar badges. The book does offer checklists and quizzes for the reader to identify with relatable scenarios, but I didn’t get the sense of having completed an educational track and “earning” a badge.
For the Creative Cookery badge, for example, it lists some “Famous Fictional Foods,” but doesn’t encourage you to make some and host a watch party with friends, as I would have expected. It lists “drinks we wish existed,” but doesn’t invite you to pair them with their geeky sources, or watch specific episodes of shows to understand their references. I also thought it was a bit odd that the checklists for each badge were in their own section starting at page 153, and not at the end of each badge overview. Finally, the book offers cute little stickers for each badge, but I would prefer something more badge/patch-like.
Once I adjusted my expectations for the book, however, I did enjoy reading it. I instantly recognized myself in many of the scenarios Murphy described and related to many of her geek references. I appreciate her vision for the book: encouraging people to be a “good geek:” “Love what you love. Be what you love. Share what you love.” And that’s something we can all get behind.
If, after reading the book, you are interested in finding some more badge-like geek merit badges, I did track some down:
Have you read Geek Merit Badges? What did you think? What merit badge(s) would you like to earn? Let us know in the Comments below!
Other Links of Interest: