LEGO: A Love Story Hardcover – May 1 2010
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From the Inside Flap
The unofficial LEGO Museum lies hidden in Bellaire, Ohio, with millions of plastic bricks sculpted into everything from robotic bands to Dirk Nowitzki to a goat on a lifeguard tower. A secret set vault slumbers beneath a hidden panel in the original house of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen in Billund, Denmark. An eleven-foot LEGO replica of a speedboat teeters on a rickety wooden dock in Seattle, Washington, threatening to plunge and sink into the Pacific Ocean as five men struggle to keep it balanced. And in the Kansas City, Missouri, home of Jonathan Bender, a massive Star Wars LEGO set leans against the wall in a vacant room.
Jonathan comes face-to-face with all of these scenes as he explores the obsessive and diverse subculture of adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs), walking the line between art and commerce, play and Serious Play, and fantasy and real life, hoping to learn how the plastic brick of our childhoods inspires us as adults.
Awakened from the "Dark Ages"that period of time when LEGO bricks are forgotten in a childhood closetBender rekindles his dream of becoming a master model builder, putting his skills to the test at adult fan conventions around the country. Here he meets fans who design their own sets, customize minifigures (LEGO people) to resemble superheroes and movie characters, and amass collections that number in the hundreds of thousands of bricks.
Bender also recruits his wifethe furniture builder in their householdto build alongside him, attempting to fill the child-size void in their lives. As their home slowly fills up with LEGO bricks, the spare bedroom swings between build room and potential nursery. Immersed in a toy-centric world without children, LEGO: A Love Story is ultimately about what it takes to build a family.
EGO: A Love Story explores what happens when the imagination of your childhood intersects with your life as an adult.
Jacket art by Nathan Sawaya, a New Yorkbased artist who creates awe-inspiring works out of some of the most unlikely things. His work has been featured in collections across the country. His most recent North American museum tours feature large-scale sculptures using only LEGO bricks. Learn more at brickartist.com.
From the Back Cover
There are 62 Lego bricks for every man, woman, and child in the world. At the age of 30, Jonathan Bender realized that he didn't have a single one of them.
Reconnecting with his childhood dream of becoming a master model builder, Bender sets out to explore the quirky world of adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs) while becoming a builder himself. And that begins with learning how LEGO has morphed over seven decades from a tiny European toy maker into a pop-culture juggernaut that is pushing the definition of art and leading to advances in robotics. As he participates in challenges at fan conventions, searches for the largest private collection in the United States, and explores LEGO headquarters in Denmark, Bender finds his LEGO journey paired with a second creative endeavorhaving a child. His two worlds intertwine in his discovery: will he win a build competition or bring a new fan of LEGO into the world?
Whether you're an avid LEGO freak or a onetime fan who now enjoys LEGO bricks with your children, this book will appeal to your inner builder and reignite a love for all things LEGO. Fans everywhere will recognize and relate to the intensity of emotion, dedication, and community that surrounds these simple plastic bricks.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Surprisingly, it reads like a novel...a very good novel. In mere pages, the story had sucked me in and kept me there, cover to cover, until it was done.
TOTALLY worth picking up and I'd HIGHLY recommend it to any other LEGO fans out there. Yes, there are some photos but, they are mostly small black and white 'chapter heading' shots, so if you're looking for a huge 'photo gallery' style book, this is NOT the book for you.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Yes, at times, I thought some geekiness apparent in the telling of the story, yet an adult spending time building Lego gizmos does seem like a better way to spend time than, say, just sitting in front of a television set for three hours, doing nothing, while watching a bunch of rich guys throw a football around.
Anyway, this is a well-written book that, while not solving any of the world's problems, did make my life a little more enjoyable just in the reading.
Next time I am at a store with Lego sets, I am sure I will look at them in a new light. I might even buy one.
It's billed as a memoir, or at least that was what I thought it was, and has elements of a "project memoir" wherein the author delves into a certain subject or theme with a goal in mind. In this case, Jonathan Bender wanted to research AFOLs (adult fan of LEGO) as well as become one himself.
But I would call LEGO: A Love Story more of a researched book than a memoir. Yes, Bender shares some of his personal experiences, and the story is told through his eyes as he joins LEGO conventions and tours the headquarters in Denmark and the U.S. headquarters in Connecticut, but in general it's a feature about AFOLs and the history and future of the LEGO company.
I did learn a lot about legos. First off, you never call them "legos." LEGO is the brand, and should only be used as an adjective as in "LEGO building blocks" or "LEGO kits," or in reference to the company itself. After reading 300 pages of correct usage, I'm probably a convert and will be annoyed by everyone else's incorrect use from here on out.
I think that this book would definitely appeal to adults who play with or collect LEGO, but also to anyone who remembers LEGO fondly from their childhood. Reading this book made me happy that my son's collection is steadily growing, and honestly makes me look forward to tackling bigger projects with him.
This book could definitely be a popular Father's Day gift -- from a grown son who remembered building LEGO with his dad, or to a new father who has the opportunity to legitimize his LEGO play once again. But then again, the whole idea behind LEGO: A Love Story is that LEGO can appeal to adults in a completely unique (and legitimate) way.
The author, Jonathan Bender, travels to LEGO conventions, to the LEGO headquarters and to such places as Legoland in order to explore how adults relate to LEGO. He describes the politics behind the relationship of the Lego company to its' adult fans and the manner in which many adults acquire and use Lego. The book is sometimes very funny but also in some ways depressing and a little hard to understand if you are not a die hard Lego fan. For example, apparently when Lego changed the grey and brown brick colors to slightly different shades this created an outrage in the adult Lego community. I suppose that unless you are very invested in Lego, this seems rather hard to comprehend and a little dispiriting.
I had thought perhaps that my own son, 14 years old and a fan of Lego, might be interested in the book. However, it is really written for adults. There are some photos, but not many, and the book really would not appeal to kids as a good part of it is devoted to the authors relationship with his wife and their attempts to start a family.
Overall, an interesting book if you are an adult fan of Lego. I would not call myself an AFOL, although I have been known to play with my kids collection (especially Mindstorms), so I am not entirely neutral about Lego.
In summary, a good book about Lego for adults, if you have some interest in Lego yourself.
Contents: Acknowledgements; Back to School; I Need a Playroom; My First Con; Stealing from a Thief; Color Changes Everything; Brick Separation Anxiety; Pink Skulls; Everything a Princess Could Wish For; I Go On a Playdate; I Give My Wife a Beach House; The Stranger Side of Building; A Man and his Museum; It's Okay, I Work Here; Becoming a Brickmaster; Danish Rocky and a Real Star Wars Expert; A Guest in LEGO's House; Protectors of the Brand; Good Luck, Boys, That Thing is Heavy; Building Blind and the Dirty Brickster; Children Not Included; Kate the Builder; You Can Go Home Again; There is no "I" in LEGO; Miniland Dad; Epilogue; Index
The first half of LEGO: A Love Story is the author's reintroduction into the LEGO world; connecting with AFOL's, visiting LEGO conventions and museums, interviewing LEGO artists and master builders, and learning to build. It is a world not unlike others where adults gather around a common interest but this one includes the author's own feeble attempts at building. Thankfully, Jonathan Bender is not a master builder, there is a lot of comedy to mine from his early attempts and, unbelievably, he includes pictures of his early builds. Bender may not be proud of his horse, but at least he has the humility to include a picture of it. It is a testament to would-be LEGO builders everywhere that, yes, there is someone worse than you. However, once you gaze upon it, you cannot help but go looking for your long forgotten LEGO bricks; after all, *I* can build better than that. I think that is what drives the early chapters of the book, Bender is recalling his own childhood, and through him, the reader is as well. The common element of most childhoods is the LEGO brick.
The early chapters, while very good at moving the narrative along, seemed to lose focus on the overall message of a chapter; thoughts and anecdotes were inserted in apparently haphazard fashion. It is as if Bender did not want to leave any of his notes on the cutting room floor. However, that particular issue does not permeate the latter chapters. Tight editing and excellent insights result in a very enjoyable chronical of one person's immersion into LEGO.
While LEGO: A Love Story is, of course, focused on AFOL's, LEGO, and the building of a family, it is the interaction between LEGO and the AFOL's that provides valuable insight into any community outside of a corporation. Whether the community is involved in a particular software, hardware, car club, or whatever, it is fascinating to see how LEGO uses, ignores, promotes, and watches the fans of their product.
This book had the desired effect on one reader; the need to build something using LEGO bricks. Also, there will be some summer trips involving a certain museum in Ohio and a LEGO convention. It cannot be helped - this book will reawaken the child in you.
Obtained from: Bookstore
Coming from the first generation of kids to play with LEGO, these plastic bricks have a romantic fascination for me. I'm not alone in this. Beginning from a vague interest in the world of AFOL (Adult Friends of LEGO), Bender explores the world of fans, collectors, and the LEGO corporation itself.
I was fascinated, the stories are great, the writing is wonderful, and I loved every minute of reading it. That the story of LEGO is a love story is exactly right. When people talk about LEGO they smile, remembering their own fun with it. Even if their bricks are forgotten in the back of a closet someplace, they remember, they love, and they smile.
Parallel with Bender's growing love of LEGO is another love story, that of his and his wife's efforts to have a child. This forms a subplot of the book, which is a nice counterpoint to the LEGO story.
Bender has a real gift for making the stories he tells interesting. I can't put my finger on how he does it, but the ordinary and extraordinary people whose stories he tells are all great. Everyone in my family who has seen me reading the book wants to read it. In my book-obsessed household, this is a first.
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