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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Susan Cain's Quiet and Scott Stossel's My Age of Anxiety, Atlantic staff writer Olga Khazan reclaims the concept of "weird" and turns it into a badge of honor rather than a slur, showing how being different - culturally, socially, physically, or mentally - can actually be a person's greatest strength.

Most of us have at some point in our lives felt like an outsider, sometimes considering ourselves "too weird" to fit in. Growing up as a Russian immigrant in West Texas, Olga Khazan always felt there was something different about her. This feeling has permeated her life, and as she embarked on a science writing career, she realized there were psychological connections between this feeling of being an outsider and both her struggles and successes later in life. She decided to reach out to other people who were unique in their environments to see if they had experienced similar feelings of alienation, and if so, to learn how they overcame them. Weird is based on in-person interviews with many of these individuals, such as a woman who is professionally surrounded by men, a liberal in a conservative area, and a Muslim in a predominantly Christian town. In addition, it provides actionable insights based on interviews with dozens of experts and a review of hundreds of scientific studies.

Weird explores why it is that we crave conformity, how that affects people who are different, and what they can do about it. First, the audiobook dives into the history of social norms and why some people hew to them more strictly than others. Next, Khazan explores the causes behind - and the consequences of - social rejection. She then reveals the hidden upsides to being "weird", as well as the strategies that people who are different might use in order to achieve success in a society that values normalcy. Finally, the audiobook follows the trajectories of unique individuals who either decided to be among others just like them; to stay weird; or to dwell somewhere in between.

Combining Khazan's own story with those of others and with fascinating takeaways from cutting-edge psychology research, Weird reveals how successful individuals learned to embrace their weirdness, using it to their advantage.

©2020 Olga Khazan (P)2020 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"An insightful ode to oddballs.... [Olga Khazan's is] a voice unlike any I can remember encountering on the page. By turns insouciantly candid, calmly authoritative, and poignantly insightful, Khazan's persona has a startling freshness that ultimately wins over the reader.... [She extends] deep empathy and genuine curiosity to her subjects." (The Washington Post

"I feel seen. And I'm confident I'm not the only one who will recognize myself in these pages. Olga Khazan is a witty, engaging writer, and Weird is a compelling journey into the world of 'different' - and a field guide to weaponizing your inner weirdo for the good." (Maria Konnikova, author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes and The Confidence Game

"A series of sharp, empathetic portraits.... A winning demonstration of the value of difference." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Weird

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Weird is An Appropriate Title

Could've been much shorter. I think the author took too much time to establish the fact that some people, a good number of people, are weird (I prefer the word "different"). I would've liked for her to spend much more time on what you do to survive when you are different. what she did provide was excellent. Narrator not appealing.

29 people found this helpful

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okay. but not earth-shattering

she weaves together a decent narrative combining social science research that is easily available along with some interesting personal insights. fine, but not great.

18 people found this helpful

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how to survive being different

this book was written for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider in society. it weaves together psychological research with the lives of several people who feel different for various reasons. the author's "quip-a-minute" style lightens what could be an other-wise depressing topic.

13 people found this helpful

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It's entertaining, but...

The author does a good job capturing the emotions of people who have been labeled weird (trangender, a plus sized model, etc), but the book would have been better if the author didn't spend so much time on her autobiography and spent more time on examples of famous people or historical figures who have also been labeled.

3 people found this helpful

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everyone 's weird especially me!

a learning experience from different points of view! I would recommend for all to see perspective.

2 people found this helpful

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Some books can nourish your soul.

Some books can nourish your soul. It is one of those books. I found it extremely inspiring and definitely would recommend anyone who can't say proudly "I'm weird" yet.

2 people found this helpful

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Conversational yet Educational

I think this book should be mandatory reading for high school and maybe even grade school. It might help stop bullying.

2 people found this helpful

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weird

I thought it was a book that basically helping u out going through life thinking your weird & it was cool to be weird, a critical thinker, you know stuff like that,but no, it was her going on on about people, she was all over the place with it, she seems nice. but it went no where & I was bored & had to give up. its like someone said just talk.
this just my opinion/ just not for me.

2 people found this helpful

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Formulaic liberal journalism in book form

The only way to describe this book is boring, repetitive, and formulaic. It can be broken down into just a few steps, repeated chapter after chapter:

1) find a people group you disdain (conservatives, southerners)

1a) share personal stories of growing up around those people, casting them as backwards religious zealots

2) find people 'marginalized' by those people

3) lionize the marginalized while bending over backwards to make them seem brave, likeable, and sympathic

4) talk about how terrible the people you disdain are

5) repeat

1 person found this helpful

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Feel the name - read the book

Whatever your weird is - you will find yourself. The author is weird and so am I. She nails my stuff from poor me to f**k your attitude.

1 person found this helpful