An adult LEGO fan's dual quest: to build with bricks and build a family.
There are 62 LEGO bricks for every person in the world, and at age 30, Jonathan Bender realized that he didn't have a single one of them. While reconsidering his childhood dream of becoming a master model builder for The LEGO Group, he discovers the men and women who are skewing the averages with collections of hundreds of thousands of LEGO bricks. What is it about the ubiquitous, brightly colored toys that makes them so hard for everyone to put down?
In search of answers and adventure, Jonathan Bender sets out to explore the quirky world of adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs) while becoming a builder himself. As he participates in challenges at fan conventions, searches for the largest private collection in the United States, and visits LEGO headquarters (where he was allowed into the top secret set vault), he finds his LEGO journey twinned with a second creative endeavor: to have a child. His two worlds intertwine as he awaits the outcome: Will he win a build competition or bring a new fan of LEGO into the world? Like every really good love story, this one has surprises and a happy ending. The book:
Explores the world of adult fans of LEGO, from rediscovering the childhood joys of building with LEGO to evaluating LEGO's place in culture and art
Takes an inside look at LEGO conventions, community taboos, and build challenges, and goes behind-the-scenes at LEGO headquarters and LEGOLAND
Tells a warm and personal story about the attempt to build with LEGO and build a family
Whether you're an avid LEGO freak or a onetime fan who now shares LEGO bricks with your children, this book will appeal to the inner builder in you and reignite a love for all things LEGO.
Jonathan Bender’s memoir, LEGO: A Love Story, begins with Bender’s memory of the biggest LEGO structure he ever built: a giant reconstruction of the Sears Tower that he worked on with his dad when he was 12. From there, it opens up the world of LEGO to fans of all ages, with detailed reporting on everything from discontinued colors and pieces to the proper way to pluralize the toy (it’s LEGO bricks, never LEGOs) as Bender joins the world of Adult Fans of LEGO AFOLs and finds a way to bring together his childhood love of the toy and his grown-up life (which includes Bender and his wife’s year-long quest to have a baby). Narrator Jeremy Gage may not have the tone and style you’d expect from Bender, but his reading targets all the emotional highs and lows of Bender’s journey.
Like most pre-teen LEGO fans, Bender put away his building bricks as he grew up entering a period that lifelong LEGO fans refer to as “The Dark Ages” and didn’t rediscover his love for the toys until his 30th birthday. That’s when he became an AFOL and spent the next year traveling to conventions, finding the world’s largest LEGO models, visiting the company’s headquarters in Denmark, and meeting the most successful collectors in the world.
Gage doesn’t quite sound the way you’d imagine Bender a self described 30-year-old “Jewish kid from Fairfield”: his voice is a little too sophisticated and mature, and you’re never quite sure if he’s in on the jokes and pop culture references in the text but he does come through with a spot-on interpretation of Bender’s excitement and nostalgia. Whether Bender is getting overexcited by the storage options for his new bricks, facing down challengers at a blind build, or sharing his love for LEGO with his in-laws on Christmas morning, Gage’s voice hits the right notes of sentimentality and emotion. And the unsurprising but very sweet ending, which finds Bender considering a LEGO build with his own child, shows just how neatly the bricks can fit into your life no matter how old you are. Blythe Copeland
"Ah, the tender story of a man and his plastic bricks.... Bender explores not just the AFOL subculture, with its superstars and wannabes and rivalries, but also describes his own rediscovery of a childhood toy and the impact it has had on his life.... If you wanted to call the book a paean to LEGO, you wouldn't be far wrong, but don't think the audience for this utterly delightful work is limited to, well, LEGO freaks." (Booklist)
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For Adult Fans of Lego
Must-Have for AFOLs - Adult Fans Of LEGO!
It was comforting to know that it's a universal truth for people that were fans of LEGO as kids will go through a "Dark Ages" time where we try to turn into adults, and so we set LEGO aside for a time, but invariably get back to the simple pleasure of putting plastic bricks together. It was fun to listen to Johnathan go through his journey to re-discover LEGO as an adult.
- Jason R Anania