All of us are a little—or a lot—fame-curious. Even huge introverts like myself have wondered what it would be like if the whole world knew who we were and loved us for it. Would it solve all of our raging insecurities? Would it make us happy? Josh Sundquist explores these questions in a fun, casual, but informative style in his newest book, Semi-Famous: A True Story of Near Celebrity.
Learning from the school of Josh
Sundquist organizes the book into periods like your average school day, which is unique, to say the least. He begins with English, where he breaks down the definition of fame. What does it mean to be famous, anyway? And what types of fame are there? At first, it seems obvious—being famous means that people know who you are. But it’s not nearly that simple.
Next, he dives into History, exploring how fame used to work back in the day before we had the Internet and Twitter. Who was the first famous person, and how did they get that way? It turns out, it was a lot harder to get recognized in public before cameras were a thing. Shocking, I know. Then he briefly pops into Social Studies, where he talks about being famous for the right and wrong reasons.
After that, he gets to Math, my least favorite subject, but he actually manages to make it fun. Here, he looks at the numbers and discusses the proportions of how many people are actually famous, which countries produce more famous people than others, and how many famous people we can actually remember.
He gives us a quick lunch break before diving into Biology, where he talks about why our minds and bodies instinctively pay more attention to famous people. Finally, in Computer Science, he explores the specifics of Internet and social media fame.
Full of personal stories and insights
Not only does this book cover literally everything you could possibly want to know about how fame works, but it’s also so much fun to read. Sundquist writes in a light, conversational tone that makes you feel like the two of you are having a cozy, after dinner chat. In his other life, he’s a comedian, so he’s also hilarious. He also packed the book with fun diagrams, which makes it a visually engaging read as well.
This book also acts as a semi-autobiography. Like the rest of us, Josh Sundquist desperately wanted to be, still wants to be, famous. In fact, that’s why he writes this book—because he wants to know why! Throughout the book, he sprinkles anecdotes of his own personal quest to be hired on MTV, anecdotes that are cringey and funny at the same time.
He also adds personal experiences to the book by sharing interviews he’s conducted with celebrities to round out the picture of fame that he has crafted. These interviews cover a wide variety of different celebrities with different attitudes towards fame. It gave a fuller view of the subject matter to hear not just one perspective, but many.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of nonfiction, this book will draw you in and not let you go. I cannot recommend it more highly.