Mandatory Books for Nerds to Read

Nerd Literature: Books That Shaped Geekdom

Geekdom and nerd culture have seen a remarkable rise in popularity over the past few decades. What was once considered a niche interest has now become a mainstream phenomenon, influencing various aspects of our society. From blockbuster movies to video games, geeks and nerds have left an indelible mark on popular culture. However, at the core of this movement lies literature, the written word that fueled the imaginations of countless geeks and shaped the very essence of geekdom. In this blog post, we will explore some of the books that have had a profound impact on nerd culture, influencing generations of geeks and helping to define the world of nerds as we know it today.

  1. "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien: No discussion of nerd literature would be complete without mentioning J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy trilogy, "The Lord of the Rings." First published in the 1950s, Tolkien's masterpiece introduced readers to a richly detailed world filled with magic, mythical creatures, and epic quests. With its sprawling narrative, complex characters, and meticulous world-building, "The Lord of the Rings" set the standard for high fantasy literature and became a fundamental text for generations of geeks. It has since inspired countless works in literature, film, and gaming, cementing its place as a cornerstone of nerd culture.

  2. "Dune" by Frank Herbert: Frank Herbert's science fiction epic, "Dune," published in 1965, is another book that has left an indelible mark on geekdom. Set in a distant future where interstellar travel and political intrigue abound, "Dune" weaves a complex tale of power, religion, and ecology. With its intricate world-building and philosophical themes, Herbert's masterpiece challenged readers' intellects and pushed the boundaries of science fiction. "Dune" remains a beloved and influential work that has inspired numerous adaptations and continuations, including films, TV shows, and video games.

  3. "Neuromancer" by William Gibson: Considered the seminal work of cyberpunk, "Neuromancer" by William Gibson was published in 1984 and revolutionized the science fiction genre. Set in a dystopian future where advanced technology intersects with gritty urban landscapes, Gibson's novel introduced readers to concepts like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and a hacker protagonist. "Neuromancer" not only influenced science fiction literature but also left an indelible mark on popular culture, inspiring films like "The Matrix" and countless video games, making it a cornerstone of geek culture.

  4. "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling: No list of books that shaped geekdom would be complete without mentioning J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series. The tale of a young wizard attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry captured the hearts and imaginations of millions worldwide. The series not only introduced readers to a magical world filled with spells, mythical creatures, and epic battles but also touched on universal themes of friendship, love, and the struggle between good and evil. The success of the "Harry Potter" books spawned a massive fandom, leading to movies, merchandise, theme parks, and a cultural phenomenon that continues to thrive today.

Final Thoughts:

Nerd literature has played a crucial role in shaping geekdom and popular culture as a whole. The books mentioned above are just a few examples of the many works that have left an indelible mark on geek culture, inspiring countless fans and influencing other forms of media. 

From the realms of high fantasy to dystopian futures and magical schools, these books have transported readers to imaginative worlds and sparked their passion for all things nerdy. As geek culture continues to thrive, we can expect future generations of readers to discover new books that will shape the world of geekdom in ways we cannot yet imagine.

Popular Western-themed Cosplay Costumes and Characters

Here's a list of popular cosplay costumes based on Westerns and Western subgenres:

  1. Classic Cowboy/Cowgirl: Dress up as a classic cowboy or cowgirl from the Wild West, complete with a hat, boots, jeans, and a fringed vest or jacket.
  2. Outlaw Gunslinger: Channel your inner outlaw by cosplaying as a gunslinger, with a long duster coat, wide-brimmed hat, bandana, and holstered pistols.
  3. Saloon Girl: Embody the spirit of the Old West by cosplaying as a saloon girl, with a frilly dress, corset, feathered headpiece, and fishnet stockings.
  4. Western Lawman: Dress up as a heroic lawman from the Old West, such as Wyatt Earp or Sheriff Buford Pusser, with a badge, sheriff's hat, boots, and a rugged trench coat.
  5. Western Femme Fatale: Embrace the allure of the femme fatale by cosplaying as a seductive and dangerous character, with a fitted dress, high heels, and a long coat.
  6. Steampunk Gunslinger: Combine the Western and steampunk genres by cosplaying as a steampunk gunslinger, incorporating Victorian-inspired clothing, goggles, and steampunk accessories.
  7. Post-Apocalyptic Survivor: Create a cosplay inspired by post-apocalyptic Westerns, with tattered clothing, leather armor, gas masks, and makeshift weapons.
  8. Space Cowboy: Put a futuristic twist on the Western genre by cosplaying as a space cowboy, with a blend of Western and sci-fi elements, such as a futuristic cowboy hat, space-themed clothing, and laser weapons.
  9. Zombified Western Character: Give a spooky twist to a Western character by cosplaying as a zombie cowboy or cowgirl, with torn and bloody clothing, pale makeup, and undead accessories.
  10. Frontiersperson: Dress up as a rugged frontiersperson, resembling a pioneer or settler from the Old West. Wear practical clothing like a brimmed hat, work shirt, trousers, and boots.
  11. Western Outlaw: Emulate the style of an outlaw or bandit from the Wild West, with a duster coat, cowboy hat, boots, and rugged clothing. Customize the costume with accessories like a bandana, spurs, or a gun belt.
  12. Western Gambler: Channel the charm of a Western gambler or cardsharp, with a tailored suit, vest, dress shirt, tie, and a wide-brimmed hat. Add a deck of cards or a poker chip as a prop.
  13. Pioneer Homesteader: Portray a pioneer homesteader, dressed in modest clothing like a bonnet, long dress, apron, and sensible shoes. Carry a basket or farming tools as props.
  14. Western Saloon Patron: Dress as a patron of a Western saloon, wearing a Victorian-style dress or a three-piece suit, along with accessories like a top hat, parasol, or a pocket watch.
  15. Western Movie Character: Cosplay as a beloved character from a Western movie, such as The Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood), Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne), or any other iconic figure that resonates with you. 


If you want to portray a specific character check out these more traditional options:

  1. The Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood) from the "Dollars Trilogy" (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).
  2. Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) from the movie "True Grit."
  3. Jesse James, the notorious outlaw from American history.
  4. Annie Oakley, the legendary sharpshooter and performer.
  5. Calamity Jane, a frontier woman and Wild West figure.
  6. Doc Holliday, the legendary gambler and gunslinger from the Old West.
  7. Belle Starr, a notorious female outlaw from the American Old West.
  8. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the famous outlaw duo.
  9. Josie Wales (Clint Eastwood) from the movie "The Outlaw Josey Wales."
  10. Billy the Kid, the legendary gunslinger and outlaw.
  11. Wyatt Earp, a lawman and key figure in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
  12. Black Bart, a notorious stagecoach robber from the Wild West.
  13. Wild Bill Hickok, a legendary lawman and gunslinger.
  14. Bass Reeves, the first African American deputy U.S. Marshal.
  15. Buffalo Bill Cody, the famous showman and Wild West figure.

Doesn't have to be a character from American folklore or films either. I have dressed up as Johnny Cash (The Man in Black) multiple times. Thus Country Western singers are also on the table, including people like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

 And here's some more nerdy options:

  1. Jonah Hex: The disfigured bounty hunter from DC Comics known for his supernatural encounters.
  2. Preacher: Jesse Custer, the Texas preacher with supernatural abilities from the comic book series "Preacher."
  3. Deadlands: Choose from various characters in the horror-themed tabletop role-playing game, such as the Blessed, the Harrowed, or the Huckster.
  4. Han Solo: The charismatic smuggler and pilot from the "Star Wars" franchise.
  5. Mal Reynolds: The captain of the spaceship Serenity from the TV show "Firefly."
  6. Spike Spiegel: The bounty hunter and main character from the anime series "Cowboy Bebop."
  7. The Gunslinger (Roland Deschain): The protagonist of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series, blending elements of fantasy and Western.
  8. Red Harlow: The main character from the video game "Red Dead Revolver."
  9. The Lone Ranger: The masked hero from various media, fighting injustice in the Old West.
  10. Lilith (Lady Six Sky): A mystical gunslinger and protector of the innocent from the comic book series "Pretty Deadly."
  11. Hexe: A voodoo priestess with supernatural powers from the comic book series "Hexed."
  12. Zoe Washburne: The skilled and resilient first mate of the spaceship Serenity from the TV show "Firefly."
  13. Angelica: A vampire hunter from the comic book series "American Vampire."
  14. Lilith Sullivan: The creepy, possessed young girl from the movie "Jonah Hex."
  15. Lady Mechanika: The steampunk cyborg detective and adventurer from the comic book series of the same name.
  16. Abigail Ashe: The sky pirate captain from the video game "Guns of Icarus Online."
  17. Revy: The dangerous and skilled gunslinger from the anime and manga series "Black Lagoon."
  18. Regina Belmont: The protagonist of the video game "Dino Crisis: Gun Survivor," mixing Western and survival horror elements.
  19. Any of the characters from Westworld.


Weird Westerns and Other Western Subgenres

As part of my foray into writing Weird Westerns (or Fantasy Westerns) I have invested some time and effort into researching the other types of Western subgenres.

Here's a list of literature subgenres for Westerns:

  1. Classic Westerns: These are the traditional Western stories that capture the spirit of the American frontier, featuring cowboys, outlaws, lawmen, and rugged landscapes.

  2. Revenge Westerns: Stories centered around the protagonist seeking vengeance against those who have wronged them, often with themes of justice and redemption.

  3. Outlaw Westerns: These stories focus on the lives of outlaws, portraying their adventures, conflicts, and often exploring their complex moral codes.

  4. Women of the West: Westerns that place strong female characters at the forefront, highlighting their struggles and triumphs in a male-dominated society.

  5. Native American Westerns: Westerns that explore the lives and cultures of Native American tribes, often offering alternative perspectives on the history of the American West.

  6. Mystery Westerns: Blend the elements of a traditional Western with a mystery narrative, featuring detectives, sheriffs, or ordinary people trying to solve crimes or uncover hidden truths.

  7. Historical Westerns: Set in specific periods of history, these Westerns provide a glimpse into the past, incorporating real events, figures, or settings.

  8. Steampunk Westerns: Combine Western themes with elements of steampunk, creating an alternative history where steam-powered technology exists alongside the Wild West.

  9. Weird West: This subgenre combines Western themes with elements of fantasy, horror, or supernatural, introducing mythical creatures, magic, or the occult to the Western setting.

  10. Post-Apocalyptic Westerns: Set in a dystopian or post-apocalyptic future, these Westerns explore the remnants of society in a harsh and lawless landscape.

  11. Space Westerns: Also known as "Cowboy Bebop" or "Firefly" style, these stories transport Western tropes and settings into outer space, featuring futuristic technology, interplanetary travel, and space cowboys.

  12. Contemporary Westerns: Modern-day Western stories that reflect the challenges and conflicts of the present, often addressing social and environmental issues relevant to the time.

These are just a few subgenres within the broader Western genre. Each subgenre offers unique themes, settings, and narrative styles, catering to various reader preferences and interests.

And lest we forget the matter of films... Including films like "Cowboys & Aliens".

 Curious about my Weird Westerns?

Check out:

A Dark Road in Louisiana


Folly of the Forlorn

What are the most popular cosplay characters from fantasy books?

There are numerous iconic characters from fantasy books that have gained popularity and are frequently cosplayed. Here are some of the most popular characters that people often choose to cosplay as:

  1. Harry Potter (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling): The beloved protagonist of the Harry Potter series is a common choice for cosplayers, with his iconic glasses, lightning bolt scar, and Hogwarts school uniform.

  2. Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien): The wise and powerful wizard Gandalf, with his long white hair, staff, and distinctive grey robes, is a popular choice for those seeking to portray a classic fantasy character.

  3. Daenerys Targaryen (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin): Daenerys, also known as Khaleesi or the Mother of Dragons, has a striking appearance with her long silver-blonde hair, flowing dresses, and dragon-themed accessories.

  4. Jon Snow (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin): Jon Snow, the brooding and honorable member of the Night's Watch, is often cosplayed with his black cloak, fur cape, and sword, Longclaw.

  5. Wonder Woman (Various comic books and adaptations): While Wonder Woman's origins are in comic books, her popularity has spread to fantasy enthusiasts. Her iconic armor, lasso of truth, and tiara make her a popular choice for cosplayers.

  6. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling): Hermione, the brilliant and resourceful witch, is a favorite among cosplayers. Her frizzy hair, Hogwarts robes, and wand make for an instantly recognizable costume.

  7. Aragorn (The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien): Aragorn, the skilled ranger and rightful heir to the throne, is often cosplayed with his rugged outfit, cloak, and sword, Andúril.

  8. Alice (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll): Alice, the curious and imaginative protagonist of Wonderland, is known for her blue dress, white apron, and iconic headband.

  9. Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin): The witty and clever Tyrion, known for his dwarfism, is often cosplayed with his distinctive facial scar, elaborate clothing, and goblet of wine.

    Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski): Geralt, the brooding and skilled monster hunter, is known for his silver hair, scars, and distinctive Witcher armor. Cosplayers often strive to capture Geralt's rugged appearance and carry his iconic swords, making him a popular choice among fans of The Witcher series.

    Arwen Undómiel (The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien): Arwen, the elven princess and love interest of Aragorn, is often cosplayed in her ethereal elven gowns and jewelry. Her flowing dark hair, delicate features, and elegant attire make for a visually stunning costume.

    Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin): The witty and clever Tyrion, known for his dwarfism, is often cosplayed with his distinctive facial scar, elaborate clothing, and goblet of wine. His complex personality and sharp wit make him a popular choice among cosplayers seeking to portray multifaceted characters.


    And if that isn't enough, there's also video games like Skyrim to consider...


The Nerd's Guide to Conventions and Cosplay: Tips, Tricks, and Must-See Events

For nerds and enthusiasts, conventions and cosplay events are the ultimate gathering places to celebrate their passions, meet like-minded individuals, and immerse themselves in the world of pop culture. Whether you're a seasoned convention-goer or a newbie looking to dive into the exciting realm of cosplay, this blog post serves as your comprehensive guide, providing valuable tips, tricks, and highlighting must-see events to make the most of your convention experience.

Choosing the Right Convention:

The first step is selecting the right convention for you. Consider the theme, size, location, and the specific fandoms or interests represented. Popular conventions like Comic-Con International, Dragon Con, and PAX offer a wide range of activities and attract a diverse crowd, while smaller local conventions provide a more intimate and community-focused experience.

Planning and Preparation:

Plan your convention experience ahead of time to maximize your enjoyment. Research the convention schedule, panel discussions, workshops, and celebrity appearances to prioritize the events you want to attend. Create a checklist of must-see booths, exhibitors, and artists you want to explore. Additionally, consider booking accommodations and purchasing tickets in advance to avoid last-minute hassles.

Cosplay: Embrace Your Alter Ego:

Cosplay is a significant part of convention culture, allowing fans to bring their favorite characters to life. If you're interested in cosplay, choose a character that resonates with you and start planning your costume well in advance. Research reference images, gather materials, and consider your budget and crafting abilities. Don't forget to document your progress and share it with the cosplay community, both online and at the convention itself.

Convention Survival Tips:

Conventions can be overwhelming, but with some preparation, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

  1. Comfortable Attire: Dress comfortably, wear appropriate shoes, and consider layering your clothing for fluctuating temperatures.

  2. Hydration and Snacks: Stay hydrated by carrying a refillable water bottle and pack some energizing snacks to keep you fueled throughout the day.

  3. Rest and Relaxation: Take breaks whenever needed to rest, recharge, and avoid burnout. Utilize quiet areas or designated relaxation zones provided by the convention.

  4. Plan Your Budget: Set a budget for merchandise, autographs, and photo opportunities. It's easy to get carried away, so plan accordingly to avoid overspending.

  5. Stay Connected: Bring a portable phone charger and connect with the convention's mobile app or social media channels to stay updated on schedule changes, announcements, and special events.

Must-See Events and Highlights:

Every convention offers unique events and experiences. Here are a few highlights to look out for:

  1. Celebrity Panels and Q&A Sessions: Listen to your favorite actors, writers, and artists share behind-the-scenes stories and engage in interactive Q&A sessions.

  2. Artist Alleys and Exhibitor Halls: Explore artist alleys and exhibitor halls to discover one-of-a-kind artwork, comics, merchandise, and collectibles.

  3. Cosplay Contests: Witness amazing craftsmanship and creativity in cosplay contests, where cosplayers showcase their intricate costumes and performances.

  4. Workshops and Demonstrations: Participate in workshops and demonstrations to learn new skills, such as prop making, special effects, or costume design.

  5. Community Meetups and Networking: Connect with fellow fans, join fandom-specific meetups, and network with creators and enthusiasts who share your interests.


Conventions and cosplay events offer a unique opportunity for nerds and enthusiasts to come together, celebrate their passions, and create unforgettable memories. By following these tips and immersing yourself in the convention culture, you'll have an incredible experience filled with exciting events, remarkable cosplay, and connections with fellow fans. So, grab your costume, plan your schedule, and get ready to embark on a thrilling journey into the world of conventions and cosplay!


Nerd Conventions in Toronto and the GTA

Here's a list of nerdy conventions in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA):

  1. Fan Expo Canada: One of the largest conventions in Canada, Fan Expo Canada takes place in downtown Toronto and offers a wide range of activities, including celebrity appearances, panel discussions, exhibitor halls, cosplay contests, and more.

  2. Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF): TCAF focuses on celebrating comic books and graphic novels. It features a diverse lineup of artists, creators, and exhibitors, along with panel discussions, workshops, and signings.

  3. Toronto Comicon: Held annually, Toronto Comicon is a three-day event that brings together fans of comics, sci-fi, horror, and gaming. It features celebrity guests, cosplay competitions, exhibitors, and interactive experiences.

  4. Anime North: While not in Toronto itself, Anime North is a popular anime convention held in the GTA. It attracts anime enthusiasts, cosplayers, and manga lovers with its extensive programming, cosplay masquerades, industry panels, and themed events.

  5. Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA): Although primarily a literary festival, TIFA often includes events and panels related to science fiction, fantasy, and other nerdy genres. It hosts notable authors and offers engaging discussions for book lovers.

  6. EGLX (Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo): EGLX is a gaming convention held in the GTA, showcasing the latest video games, esports competitions, gaming tournaments, indie developers, and interactive experiences.

  7. Toronto After Dark Film Festival: This genre-focused film festival screens horror, sci-fi, action, and cult films. It provides a platform for independent filmmakers and includes special events, Q&A sessions, and parties.

  8. Toronto Fan Days: Organized by the same team behind Fan Expo Canada, Toronto Fan Days is a smaller-scale convention that offers a taste of the Fan Expo experience. It features celebrity guests, exhibitors, and cosplayers.

  9. Can-Con: Can-Con is a science fiction and fantasy convention held in Ottawa, but it attracts attendees from the GTA and beyond. It focuses on Canadian speculative fiction and includes panels, workshops, author readings, and networking opportunities.

These are just a few of the notable nerdy conventions in Toronto and the GTA. Keep an eye on their respective websites and social media channels for updates on dates, guest announcements, and programming. Happy convention-going!

Publishing a fantasy book? Make sure you get a professional fantasy book editor.

Study Archery in Toronto

So you want to study archery, but you are having difficulty finding an archery instructor who is local. However there is a solution. If you are willing to travel you can take a crash course in archery in Toronto, Canada. 10 lessons over a two week period will take you from archery novice to an experienced and capable archer.

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