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How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot

How to Be Popular (2006)

by Meg Cabot

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,081367,716 (3.63)10
  1. 00
    And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman (kathleen.morrow)
    kathleen.morrow: Similar writing style and humor
  2. 00
    Second Skin by Jessica Wollman (foggidawn)
    foggidawn: Both are lighthearted explorations of high-school popularity.

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Huh, so when did I listen to this? Standard Cabot fare. ( )
  akmargie | Apr 4, 2013 |
Apparently, this book will tell you what shoes to wear, how to fix your hair, and everything that really counts to be popular; it knows about popular—okay, I’ll stop.

Coming off of reading the Airhead series, I kept lamenting the fact that Meg Cabot always falls back on the bitchy blonde popular girl stereotype, especially after having several books where the popular girl turns out not to be so bad after all (Princess Diaries, All-American Girl, Avalon High and Tommy Sullivan…). So going into this a second time, I really wasn’t keeping my hopes up. And I was wrong.

Let’s talk about our main character Steph—she has her reasons for wanting to be in the In-Crowd, and while getting revenge on the bitchy popular girl and getting the hot senior president are two of those reasons, but both are overshadowed by Steph’s real reason. I got the genuine feeling that she wanted to move on from the embarrassing Super Big Gulp Incident, and the only reason people keep bringing it up is because of Lauren (aforementioned bitchy popular girl). I like that Steph isn’t so much of a goody two-shoes, although a few of her side comments made me cringe (like “She was the dimmest person outside of the Special Ed classes.” Or saying that she would have made fun of her friend Becca for being shy and a scrapbooker. Yeah, that’s really not cool.) Steph tries to be nice to everyone, and not overtly bitchy, even when she’s assimilated into the popular crowd.

She’s not perfect, we’re not supposed to sympathize with her because of her informed abilities, and she’s got her flaws and interests, like her managing her family’s store finances. The very first scene, when we see her and her friends covertly dumping sugar packets on Lauren felt realistic to me, and it manages to be funny at the same time. And Steph actually grows throughout the book—she might not want to point fingers at Lauren, but she’s willing to apologize and try to be friends with the popular cronies who get taken down because of Lauren’s schemes. And even at the end of the book, when Steph gives her whole “Grow up and move on” speech, she turns around and invites Lauren to join her for coffee. Also, the way Steph goes about becoming popular is great—she doesn’t become a bitch, she doesn’t try to sacrifice her friends, and really, all she does is try to become more involved in school. It’s a refreshingly positive thing to see; why can’t there be more of this in young adult books?

The book doesn’t have much a plot to it, though. There’s the usual, slightly boring, budding romance between Steph and her childhood friend Jason; a very exaggerated family drama in Steph’s family between her mother and her grandfather; and the big climatic scene where Steph has to chose between doing what’s right and getting in with the A-Crowd is kind of overblown and feels wooden. There’s no real strong supporting cast, either—Becca feels like she’s never really there (and ends up with someone who doesn’t get introduced until halfway into the book) and Jason is the designated love interest because he just is. Steph’s family exists to be big and wacky, although I did get the sense that she was really close to her grandfather. However, the book largely works because it’s more focused on Steph and how she tries to change her social status without changing her real self.

This is an example of Meg Cabot writing a good book. There’s some flaws to it, but it’s enjoyable, and you want to keep rooting for Steph. It’s frothy fun that doesn’t rely on giving a few traits to force the reader into sympathizing with the main character. I don’t know why I gave it such a low rating when I first read it (probably because of the lack of plot). But now, I can count it among one of my favorite stand-alone books by her.
( )
  princess-starr | Mar 31, 2013 |
Steph Landry is an average high school student in Indiana with best friends Jason and Bex. The three teens have been ostracized by their peers because of a certain incident Steph had in 5th grade with extremely popular Lauren Moffat. While cleaning Jason’s grandmother’s attic, Steph finds a book titled How to be Popular and decides that using the book’s advice will help her achieve a position at the top of the social pyramid. Over the course of a week, Steph makes drastic changes to her lifestyle to acquire popularity.
How to be Popular is the classic story of a teen girl; she has best friends who love her for who she is but she wants a better social status even if it means acting like someone else. She thinks that once she is popular, all of her problems will be solved. The book reveals that while accomplishing popularity may be possible, maintaining it without altering who you are as a friend is nearly impossible. This lesson is extremely explicit in the book and may annoy the reader with the repetitiveness.

The characters are amicable but slightly impersonal because many were extreme stereotypes. For example, Lauren Moffat is the popular character. She is beautiful, rich, and explicitly cruel while her boyfriend Mark is the typical jock who plays football and is oblivious to his girlfriend’s malicious behavior towards others.

An excerpt from the book Steph finds is placed in the beginning of each chapter to display Steph’s upcoming goal. For example, the book advises to partake in school activities and the chapter includes Steph’s efforts in organizing a fundraiser. The citations are a creative way to begin each chapter and to keep the reader intrigued.

The writing is not particularly challenging making the book an excellent summer read. However, if the reader is looking for a book that has substance and ambiguity, this novel is not recommended.

Although the ending and the overall plot line were tremendously predictable and the writing simple, How to be Popular is a model high school love story if a girl trying to accomplish popularity. ( )
  Sommmmer | Nov 4, 2012 |
A quick, entertaining read, "How to Be Popular" presents a fantasy common to tweens and teens: overnight popularity. Meg Cabot is a familiar name to many female YA readers, having penned the much-loved "Princess Diaries" series, as well as several other series for both teens and adults. In this novel, readers spend the first week of the new school year with Steph Landry, a high school junior whose name has become synonymous with "screw up" in her town ever since an unfortunate beverage-related incident in sixth grade. (Characters who make clumsy or thoughtless mistakes are frequently admonished not to "Pull a Steph Landry.") Steph has discovered a copy of an old self-help book (from which this novel takes its name) and is determined to reinvent herself and become popular. Refreshingly, most of the advice offered by the book-within-a-book is actually reasonable and helpful to teenagers, and Steph walks a few fine ethical lines before ultimately making choices that both redeem her and help her achieve her goal of becoming better-liked by her peers. Romantic undertones with the boy next door add a little interest but no explicit scenes; alcohol use is mentioned but not engaged in by the central characters. Although the ending is a little too tidy to satisfy those with a preference for realism, it will satisfy readers looking for a Happily Ever After. Recommended for ages 12 and up. ( )
  alexanan | Sep 25, 2011 |
Steph Landry certainly wouldn't be classified as popular. The entire popular group at school hates her for something that was an accident ,but Steph's plan to be popular is in full action when she discovers a book with detailed instructions on how to become popular. But it might get her more than she bargained for. As she starts to climb the social ladder, she realizes that popularity isn't everything she dreamed it to be.The book How to be Popular is a great book for a girl around the age of fifteen or sixteen. This book explains a very common problem of a teenage girl who wants to be popular in school. I really like this book because the moral of the story is that you don’t have to be popular to be liked or loved as long as you have real friends that love you. The book also tells you that the person that you truly love might get pushed away by you because of you thinking that you need to be popular.The Main character in this book is Steph Landry , who is a social outcast because of an accident that happed in the past.At first she very insecure about herself comparing her to the popular people , eventually progressing into the novel she finds that she doesn't have to be perfect and be popular but be herself and hang with the people who actually care about her.
  annissad | Feb 17, 2011 |
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Meg Cabotprimary authorall editionscalculated
Reinders, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060880147, Paperback)

Do you want to be popular?

Everyone wants to be popular—or at least, Stephanie Landry does. Steph's been the least popular girl in her class since a certain cherry Super Big Gulp catastrophe five years earlier.

Does being popular matter?

It matters a lot—to Steph. That's why this year, she has a plan to get in with the It Crowd in no time flat. She's got a secret weapon: an old book called—what else?—How to Be Popular.

All Steph has to do is follow the instructions in The Book, and soon she'll be partying with the popular kids (including school quarterback Mark Finley) instead of sitting on The Hill Saturday nights, stargazing with her nerdy best pal Becca, and even nerdier Jason (now kind of hot, but still).

But don't forget the most important thing about popularity!

It's easy to become popular. What isn't so easy? Staying that way.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:35 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Sixteen-year-old Steph Landry finds an old book on how to be popular and decides to change her social status by following its advice, much to the bafflement of her two best friends.

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