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Dancing Barefoot

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Wil Wheaton - blogger, geek, and Star Trek: The Next Generation's Wesley Crusher - gives us five short-but-true tales of life in the so-called Space Age in Dancing Barefoot. With a true geek's unflinching honesty, Wil examines life, love, the web, and the absurdities of Hollywood in these compelling autobiographical narratives. Based on pieces first published in Wil's hugely popular blog, www.wilwheaton.net, the stories in Dancing Barefoot is a vivid account of one man's version of that universal story, the search for self. If you've ever fallen in love, wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a Star Trek convention, or thought hard about the meaning of life, you'll find a kindred soul in the pages of Dancing Barefoot. In the process of uncovering his true geeky self, Wil Wheaton speaks to the inner geek in all of us.

116 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Wil Wheaton

89 books204k followers
Wil Wheaton loves to tell stories. He’s been doing it his whole life.

By age ten, he had already been acting for three years. In 1986, at age 12, he earned critical acclaim as Gordie Lachance in Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me; at 14, he began his four-year turn as Wesley Crusher on the hit TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Since then, Wil has appeared in dozens of films and TV series, with recurring roles on TNT’s Leverage, SyFy’s Eureka, and the hit webseries The Guild. He is the creator, producer, and host of the wildly successful webseries Tabletop, credited with reigniting national interest in tabletop gaming. Most recently, he played a fictionalized version of himself on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, one of the most highly rated and watched sitcoms of the last decade.

An accomplished voice actor, Wil has lent his talents to animated series including Family Guy, Teen Titans, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. His video game credits include four installments each of the Grand Theft Auto and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series, as well as Fallout: New Vegas, DC Universe Online, and Broken Age.

His audiobook narration of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and was one of Goodreads’ 10 Best Narrator and Audiobook Pairings of All Time. He has also lent his voice to titles by John Scalzi, Randall Monroe, and Joe Hill.

When he isn’t acting, narrating, or podcasting, Wil Wheaton is writing.

A lot.

He is the author of Just A Geek, Dancing Barefoot, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, Hunter, and Dead Trees Give No Shelter, plus a forthcoming novel, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything. He has contributed columns to Salon.com, The A.V. Club, LA Weekly, Playboy, The Washington Post, and the Suicide Girls Newswire.

In recent years, Wil has earned recognition as an outspoken mental health advocate, chronicling his own journey in his blog and as a public speaker for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. His powerful, candid essay about his struggle with chronic depression and anxiety garnered national attention.

Wil lives in Los Angeles with his badass, irrepressible wife Anne, two rescued dogs, one cat, and two vintage arcade cabinets. If you’re not a robot, you can reach him at: wil at wilwheaton dot net.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 255 reviews
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,041 followers
December 27, 2014
This was fun. The first few stories were short, kind of sappy & OK. I was going to give this 3 stars. The last story was longer than the rest put together & was really good. Wheaton bares his soul & does all actors a service. Just how much the audience reaction matters is very well told. I also loved the look into the various Star Trek actors.

I'm surprised that Shatner was a dick, but I generally try to remain ignorant of actor & author personal lives. I rarely like them any better, but have often liked them a LOT less. The personal life has no bearing on their art, just my enjoyment of it.

I highly recommend this. It's only a little over 2 hours long & well worth the time spent. Best of all Wheaton read it himself & that helps make it.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,206 reviews3,220 followers
June 4, 2018
3.5 Stars
Funny and poignant, the last story in this collection was a fantastic geeky read for Trekkies like myself. Unfortunately, the other stories in this memoir were fairly unremarkable with tired themes of nostalgia. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version which was narrated by the talented author.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,975 reviews53 followers
June 8, 2018
This was a book challenge read. I recognized the author's name as an audiobook narrator so I knew this would be a good "listen". As I got into this, I had no idea who the author really was. He is more than an audiobook narrator. He was Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I loved that show. While I'm by no means a trekkie, I was able to understand the "trekkiness" of his stories in this book.

The author is known for so much more than the two things I've mentioned. This was an enlightening read. I liked his stories and I liked that he is always amazed when things work out. He doesn't have a predominant sense of entitlement and frankly, that was refreshing.
Profile Image for ian.
9 reviews4 followers
May 21, 2009
I read this book just as I was preparing to leave Iraq. The stories inside are just great--heartwarming, funny, geeky and more. It provided some much-needed escapism from my then daily life of warfare.
Profile Image for Michelle Morrell.
1,041 reviews75 followers
June 22, 2023
I was going through our Little Free Library donations and found this slim little volume. I glanced at it and saw it was written by Wil Wheaton, and that it's an addition to his novel "Just a Geek," stories that they couldn't fit in the book itself. Already a big fan of his humor and honesty, I grabbed it out. SIGNED! A signed copy! (Dear "Devin," your loss, man.) So I took it inside and consumed it in about 40 minutes. As expected, just delightful. And how can you not like finally hearing the whole story behind "WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER?"

I can't help but recall the day my son went up to him at ECCC and was SO! EXCITED! To meet the guy from Big Bang Theory (lolol) and Wil was kind and engaging and signed the strap of his dirty pre-teen backpack and my son remembers it to this day. That is the sign of a decent person who thinks of his fans as people and not just numbers.

I read the book and touched it and appreciated it and put it back in the box. This is someone else's lucky find to keep. Maybe even someone named Devin!

And to Wil, your stories of anxiety and self doubt and not fitting in are so brutally honest, thank you. I hope you finally see that we like you, we really like you!
Profile Image for Ryan Sestric.
30 reviews1 follower
July 3, 2014
Damn good read! I'm a fan of Wil Wheaton, and chase his stuff around the interwebs (in a non-creepy stalker way). I have to say that this book was a highly entertaining, well written, and a super easy read for those lazy days where you just need to be entertained. It's really short and digestible, so you can plop this book in when you are getting tired of the other books you are reading. If you've seen Wil on Tabletop or any panel discussions, this book is just the written form of his performances. If you don't know him, then SHAME ON YOU! :p Actually, you might become a fanboy after hearing these awesome, real, funny and occasionally sad stories. I'd be surprised if you felt nothing when you read his first encounter with William Shatner. It's hard to describe, but he seems to be the exception to the rule when it comes to Hollywood-type actors. Instead, he's a killer story teller that will engross you from the first line. I was actually bummed out when I hit page 115 which is the end in my copy. I even read the foreword, About the Author & Illustrator, and the copy write info cause I didn't want the book to end.
Profile Image for Sarah.
985 reviews
January 24, 2009
i love wil wheaton. love him. like most people, i hated him as wesley crusher, but then i discovered his blog. he writes well, is funny, is a real person with a real life who just happens to be a celebrity. and i like his stories and the way he tells them. so, yeah.
if you like his blog, you’ll like this book.
Profile Image for Anna.
141 reviews142 followers
April 12, 2023
I've only ever read Wil's blog posts - and heard him read "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline - but had always planned to listen to his books. I might've started with the wrong one (it's hard to tell from the publishing date which book came out first and therefor which should be listened to first, especially since the stories in "Dancing Barefoot" are ones that simply didn't find their place in "Just A Geek"), but either way I'm really happy that I finally got around to it.
There's something unique about listening to a book read by the author. You don't have to imagine the words read in their voice - the timbre, rhythm, accentuation, etc. - and you can concentrate on what is being said and how; the emotions behind it. Sure, it's sometimes fun to read a book by a celebrity and imagine hearing their voice in our head, but I've recently been on a roll of listening to read-by-the-author audiobooks and lemme tell you - it's an amazing experience. It's like listening to a friend telling you their life's story.
The stories in "Dancing Barefoot" range from poignant musings on the fleetingness of life, through humorous recounts of fan conventions and the surprising impact they can have, to short, sweet études on love and romance. All of them had me smiling (some of them through glassy eyes). I was most touched by Wil's thoughts on Star Trek and his relationship with fans of the show - as a fellow geek myself, and someone who visits conventions both as a attendee-fan and an invited speaker, it's heartwarming to know that my deep love and appreciation for that community (sprinkled with the occasional wry eye-roll) resonates in other people as well. Especially those who have moved from one side of the autograph table to the other.
In other words: I recommend a listen to any geeks and/or fans of Wil's online presence, and am definitely looking forward to his other books.
Profile Image for Stephanie Johanesen.
9 reviews1 follower
December 23, 2010
Entirely too short, is what I say. Who knew Wil Wheaton, the loved/hated character named Wesley on Start Trek the Next Generation was a good writer? Well ... he is. This is the first piece I've read by him, and it's a small compilation of short pieces he wrote for his website. The stories range from a very touching, heart-wrenching piece about the passing of a family member, to a lengthy missive about attending ST conventions, meeting William Shatner for the first time and more. You go from being misty-eyed to giggling in just a short span.

He's very sincere in his writing, it has a really real and raw sort of voice to it that gives you a good glimpse into of the kind of person Mr. Wheaton is. He seems unafraid to offer up his vulnerabilities to his readers and to admit how the approval and judgement of others affect him. I was sort of blown away at how excellent this little book was. I devoured it in just a couple of hours at best, along with interruptions to tend to some baking. I really look forward to reading more from him. Wil is also an independent author and publisher, so support him and buy his book! :)
Profile Image for Kate.
40 reviews27 followers
November 21, 2016
For a quick short read, this was wonderful. I finished reading it prior to reading Wil Wheaton's larger book "Just a Geek" since chronologically this was published first. As a lover of all fiction work, and usually a snob to anything else I am so glad I took a chance and read Dancing Barefoot. Though all the stories in this book I have already read, (courtesy of WWdn) being able to sit with a book in your hand and reading them by paper and not by computer makes the experience much for fulfilling. Wil Wheaton's stories- though they are true and extremely personable- have this ability to come off the page and leave you standing there next to the author. You can understand his feelings, his fears and his hopes because though they may be about different things these are all emotions that we have felt ourselves. So even though it is a true story, I found myself reading it as I would any other fiction- submersing myself in this hilariously funny and lovable character who seems to forever be battling the insecurities his childhood left him. Not to mention his lovely (and very geeky) writing style moves this up to one of my favorites.
Profile Image for August.
Author 8 books14 followers
March 25, 2011
Wil Wheaton is one of my favorite celebrities, because he's honest about the fact that, you know what, there's no such thing as a celebrity -- everyone is just another person, some more well-known than others. He isn't afraid to display his nerdiness, his quirks, his awesome gigs and his adorable relationship with his wife. I'm not the hugest fan of his writing style, and frankly this book could have used at least two or three more pairs of sharp eyes for the punctuation, but Wil's got heart. I couldn't deny that if I wanted to, and I really don't want to. Now that I'm learning about the life of someone in media firsthand through experiences with local short films, it's cool to see what it's like at the next level -- when people know your name, and their reactions to your existence become way polarized. Wil did a great job of taking me into his world, and I enjoyed my stay thoroughly.
105 reviews6 followers
September 11, 2011
I had to read this after I saw Wil Wheaton do a performance of "william fucking shatner" at DragonCon 2011. I really enjoy sci-fi tv/movies, but I'm not a fangirl, so when I read this, I was not approaching them as writing from a celebrity author (often mediorce), but as a window into a world I don't know. I really liked them. Sure, some of the essays pull on familiar themes, loss and grief for starters, but I loved the essay where he went to the Star Trek Experience in Vegas, and was overcome by nostalgia and a homecoming, while the people around him just see a fun tourist visit.

Perhaps I am more biased, since I have his performance on the brain, but I loved the stories. I know some of his books are available on audio, and I wish that he would put these essays out on video.
Profile Image for LittleMissBookworm.
696 reviews7 followers
July 11, 2017
"Dancing Barefoot" is a collection of five short stories, or rather memories, by actor Wil Wheaton.

All of these recollections are rather nostalgic and honest. The first four are stories about Wil's family and really show how much they mean to him. The last and longest one is about a "Star Trek" convention that Wil Wheaton attended and how it affected him.

Not being overly familiar with "Star Trek" or any other works of Wil Wheaton (aside from "The Big Bang Theory"), I didn't really expect that much going into this book. "Dancing Barefoot" didn't exactly blow me away, but it was nice to see how down-to-earth and caring the actor comes across in it.
I think fans of the "Star Trek" franchise will have a field day with this book, though.
Profile Image for quinnster.
1,642 reviews16 followers
May 1, 2014
Wil Wheaton writes five short, but sweet and insightful stories about love, loss and growing up but remaining a kid at heart. While all the stories had their high points, the longest story The Saga of SpongeBob VegasPants was my favorite because it had a bit of everything. I think that the most endearing thing about Wil Wheaton is that he is still unsure of himself. He is confident when it comes down to it and he's in his element, but before he finds his bearings he's sort of just this normal guy who really wants to make people happy.

And his recounting of meeting WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER was painfully sweet.
3 reviews
August 28, 2010
I loved this book! At least one of the stories will make you cry, "who had a heart to love, and courage to make's love known." Have tissues at the ready. At least one other will make you fall in love, or perhaps fall back in love. All of them will make you think, and wonder, and remember, even when perhaps you'd rather not. This is a wonderful examination of the ways we grow up.
Profile Image for Seawood.
1,045 reviews
January 15, 2012
Thrilled to get this for Christmas in hard copy. One day I will get it signed (please come to the UK :). I've read all of these tales before via Wil's blog but it's great to have the actual thing in my hands and to support a writer I really enjoy.
Profile Image for Kacy.
262 reviews5 followers
March 27, 2017
Listened to book 5 last night: Dancing Barefoot by Wil Wheaton. It was a quick fun read. (There is some bad language, so be aware of that if it bothers you.) This book consists of several anecdotes from Wil Wheaton's life.
Profile Image for Bob.
18 reviews5 followers
March 18, 2009
Short but bittersweet, these few outtakes from Just a Geek (released after this one) definitely warranted their own book.
Profile Image for Thom.
1,592 reviews47 followers
January 8, 2010
An enjoyable read, and a great counterpoint to Just a Geek. I think I would have read it faster but kept slowing down to hear Wil's voice in my head.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,448 reviews1,109 followers
August 29, 2020
I enjoyed these tails. Especially about Star Trek and the conventions. But even a short one about his beloved aunt was a nice touch to get to know Wil better. He does such a great job personalizing these memories to make them relatable. It was disheartening to learn he didn't get on at all with William Shatner, that Shatner treated him like crap. Interesting to learn how he and other actors wore bodysuits. And the fine line he walked of being true to himself and earning fan loyalty at conventions. Tricky!
Profile Image for Nathan Albright.
4,488 reviews110 followers
February 22, 2019
Like many people, I became familiar with the author first through his rather punchable character Wesley Crusher on Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  As a child star, for that role as well as others (including a breakout role in the film Stand By Me), the author does not serve as a cautionary tale of the horrors of Hollywood life for has-beens, but rather comes off as a geeky and generally amusing adult who is somewhat normal, at least as far as geeky and nerdy people like me are concerned.  In reading this collection of stories that were not included in the author's memoir Just A Geek (review forthcoming), the author shows a variety of different tones and comes off as as rather appealing sort of person.  Thankfully, as a result of his more recent work including a vlog series that shows him as a competent tabletop role playing gamer, I know him now for something other than his role on TNG, which is definitely for the better as far as I am concerned, as this book reveals that all too many people still judge him for that role, and not entirely justly given the fact that he did not write the lines he had to say.  He's writing now, though, as if to make up for lost time.

This particular book contains five true stories that end up being just above 100 pages, but they vary widely in length.  The first story is a sentimental tearjerker about the death of the author's aunt Val, to whom this volume is dedicated.  The second story is a sentimental one about the fun the author has playing with his stepsons and enjoying being a cool stepdad while enjoying hide and seek and backyard baseball.  The third story manages to combine a discussion about an acting audition in the midst of a wildfire with memories of the author being an awkward teen.  The fourth story is a romantic one about the author enjoying time with his wife while walking in the rain.  It is the fifth and final story that is the real core of the book, taking up well more than half of the space in the book and also looking at the ways in which the author has come to terms with his life as a veteran of Star Wars, including his skits and talks, his relationship with other actors from the series, and the way that people still confuse the author as a man for his role.

Who would appreciate a book like this one?  The odds are good that a great many of the readers of this book will likely be familiar with the author from his role in Star Trek:  The Next Generation, and will enjoy the way he dishes about the way that Gene Roddenberry and others helped to mentor and encourage him during his youth.  But the stories indicate that there is a lot more going on in the author's life than acting, including stepparenting, dealing with the loss of relatives, and also handling fame and the expectations that people have of him.  There is a lot to enjoy in this collection of true stories, and they reveal a side of the author that is warm and friendly.  All things considered, it appears as if Wil Wheaton has been able to develop his writing and live a decent life while also keeping one foot in the door when it comes to acting and comedy.  All of that makes this a book that shows the reader who he is, and certainly serves as a supplement to his memoir and other writing that is worth checking out.
Profile Image for Ian Coomber.
4 reviews9 followers
September 10, 2009
Mostly based on his blog entries, Dancing Barefoot was the first of his books to be published, but the third I have read. Although autobiographical, it is more anecdotal in tone, mainly about good times spent with his wife, stepchildren and Star Trek, but opening up on something of a more serious note. “Houses in Motion” is far from the most entertaining of chapters from any of his books, but then I’m very sure it was never meant to be. In this particular chapter, Wheaton tells us of his emotional last journey to his late Aunt’s house and the memories it stirs within him. As a nostalgic story about nostalgia, he shows the reader what to expect through out the following pages, and indeed books to come.

Not only is this particular tale a great first impression due to the theme of nostalgia 2, but also because of the sadness and regret. Although it is safe to say that most readers of his books would be readers of his blog, not everyone would be as familiar with him as they would be after this chapter. Although far from A-List (which is a good thing), Wheaton is widely regarded as a celebrity of the highest degree in certian circles, and by sharing with us his feelings of grief and sadness, Wheaton’s book of anecdotes is not only saying ‘this is a book about me’, but ‘this is who I am, and I’m just as human as you’. More importantly than this even, it is also Wheaton’s way of saying Thank You. ‘Rather than just read my blog for free, I realise and appreciate that you’ve actually paid hard earned money to read what I have to say’ he says, and he rewards us accordingly.

Depsite being a good book and a great read, it is very much one for completists, however. The first four of the five chapters are short but sweet to say the least, and “The Saga of SpongeBob VegasPants” doesn’t give you much, except perhaps a deeper hatred of William Shatner, that you won’t get from his second book, Just a Geek.
Profile Image for Casey.
599 reviews44 followers
July 6, 2014
Some say short and sweet.
I say brief, but savory.

If you're contemplating reading this book, chances are you're already aware of Wil Wheaton. These five stories provide a slivered glimpse into childhood, and adulthood. Wheaton writes in an authentic voice that transcends Hollywood personas. These stories are filled with insightful feeling, genuine introspection, and honesty. Whether Wheaton is relaying a chance encounter with a beautiful girl at the age of fifteen, or showing his wife Ann walking in the rain (loved that scene, does Anne have e sister?), he excels in making a moment tangible.

Wil Wheaton, man, myth, legend, narrates the audiobook. I'm a huge fan of Wheaton donning the narrator cap. His readings always deliver a sense of intimacy, not in a weird way, but in the same way that a park bench conversation has an intimate feel, something exclusively shared amongst the participants. I felt as if Wheaton were reading me, and only me, his book. And I believe this is a rare and special property in the audiobook world.

So what are you waiting for? Grab the audiobook, and treat yourself to a listen!
Thanks, Wil.
443 reviews18 followers
June 17, 2008
Fresh from having seen Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation) read several of his essays to the large crowd at last month's Emerald City Comic-Con, I eagerly picked up this second and shorter collection of his essays. (Most of which have appeared in one form or another on his frequently-hit website, by the way.) But I'm under-whelmed, I have to say. Maybe it's the tedious melancholy of a thirty-something ex-Star Trek actor that doesn't work for me anymore. Or maybe it's simply that he's revisiting well-trod ground that made his first collection, "Just a Geek", so damn refreshing when I cracked that open just a few years back. (Boy, was I amused at the time!) In any event, if you do deign to pick this up -- and get it at your local library as I don't think it's worth the $15 cover-price -- skip the first four stories in this slender five-essay collection, and go straight for "The Sage of SpongeBob VegasPants" if you want a hearty laugh at William Shatner's expense. No, make that WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER.
Profile Image for Sofia.
Author 4 books121 followers
January 27, 2011
Posted on my book blog.

After reading Wil Wheaton's memoir, Just a Geek, I figured why not go ahead and read his other works too? So I picked this one up.

It's very similar in tone and subject matter to Just a Geek, even though most of the stories focus less on his relationship with Star Trek and more on his life and memories. Still, the last (and longest) story, The Saga of SpongeBob VegasPants, was a bit repetitive for me because there was already a shorter version of it in the other book.

This a very fast read and Wil Wheaton's writing is compelling and keeps the reader interested. However, if you've read his other book and follow his blog, it will probably just be more of the same to you.
Profile Image for Marie.
Author 61 books89 followers
August 2, 2010
I thought I would follow up the two volume Italian epic with something nice and short, and this is indeed short. A lunchtime read, it's mostly warm but full of expected nostalgia and very mainstream life. Well, except for the Star Trek bits. I am told, though I do not quite believe it, that there are people who don't know a thing about Star Trek and have never been to a convention or met a rabid Trekkie.

Wil Wheaton claims to have met these people, but then, he moves in no doubt larger circles than I.

Anway, it is what it is. The last story section was the most interesting, being the Star-Trek centered one. I liked how he described going to the Las Vegas "Star Trek Experience". He really captured that yearning to visit a fictional place - or one's own past.
Profile Image for Salimbol.
492 reviews6 followers
April 28, 2012
Another of Wil Wheaton's collections of autobiographical anecdotes. Not as polished as some of his other work (they're bits and pieces that didn't make the final cut for his other earlier book, 'Just A Geek', and I think it shows with most of them), these were nevertheless highly readable - especially the centrepiece of the book, 'The Saga of Spongebob Vegas Pants, or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Star Trek', which is by turns funny, touching and illuminating.
Profile Image for Geoff Young.
183 reviews9 followers
June 19, 2016
This memoir is a light, easy read that can be (and in my case was) consumed in a single afternoon. The first third consists of four vignettes that didn't connect with me and felt like fluff. The final two-thirds is a humorous and poignant account of the author's struggle to come to terms with his former identity as Star Trek's Wesley Crusher. This latter part, if expanded and perhaps combined with similarly themed stories, could lay the foundation for a book I'd read in a heartbeat.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 255 reviews

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