LEGO: A Love Story by Jonathan Bender [Book Excerpt]

LEGO A Love Story by Jonathan BenderBack in October 2008, I had the pleasure of spending some time with writer Jonathan Bender during BrickCon, who at the time was working on a book about adult fans of LEGO. A year and a half later, LEGO: A Love Story is out from Wiley.

I’ll let one of our other contributors do a more formal book review, but Jonathan’s book is that rare story about a hobby that’s actually about a whole lot more. It’s about how a deceptively simple children’s toy brings people together, as has become painfully self-evident over this past week, but it’s also as much about growing up yourself.

The Brothers Brick is pleased to bring our readers an excerpt from this new book.

I never expected to come face-to-face with my worst nightmare at LEGO headquarters, but there it is: a snarling red dragon — the namesake of the roller coaster at LEGOLAND. A 3-D model of the LEGO dragon is dissected into parts on the designer Jette Skovgaard Jensen’s computer monitor.

“That’s only the second roller coaster I’ve been on in my life. I’m a chicken,” I tell Jette as she walks me through how the model was built.

“I’m chicken too. I can’t look. But the challenge of something when it’s for LEGOLAND — we have to think about the whole family, like how to make it cool for a twelve – year-old and not too scary for a three-year-old,” says Jette. I ignore that I’m more than ten times the age she is trying not to scare.

She has the trendy glasses and spiky red hair of a designer in the 3-D Model Center. We’re at her desk inside Havremarken, the LEGO offices adjacent to the manufacturing plant. The building immediately makes me think of a Google campus, with employees on scooters whizzing by basketball hoops and table tennis tables in the hallways. The environment is certainly creative. A massively over-scaled red LEGO fire truck sits between cubicles, and nearly every employee’s workspace is decorated with a LEGO set or minifig.

I’m trying to get a sense of who the people are behind the brick creations I’ve been surrounded with for the past several days. Jette is a second-generation LEGO employee. She grew up in Billund, while her dad worked as a technician on the electronics and structural supports for the models that her mom glued.

“When I was a kid, I remember coming in the doors, it was very open. I thought I might leave Billund, but I was afraid. And here it was also easy to get a job once you are inside the company,” says Jette.

Download Chapter 16, “A Guest in LEGO’s House” right here to read the rest. For even more, LEGO: A Love Story is out now.

And yes, Nathan Sawaya built the book cover.

3 comments on “LEGO: A Love Story by Jonathan Bender [Book Excerpt]

  1. EvilJack

    Your forgot to mention that he will be debuting the release of the book at Brick Magic. Which is being held in Raleigh, NC during mothers day weekend. He will be there signing books for those that want them.

  2. Roderick

    It’s a cool little book… picked it up at Barnes & Noble… I always love to read about other guys who, no doubt, come up with comical stories about birthday shopping for the nephews on my bi-weekly trips to Toys R Us.

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