Sample
  • Weird

  • The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World
  • By: Olga Khazan
  • Narrated by: Renata Friedman
  • Length: 9 hrs
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (248 ratings)

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Weird

By: Olga Khazan
Narrated by: Renata Friedman
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Publisher's summary

Learn why the concept of "weird" is being reclaimed and turned into a badge of honor, used to show how being different—culturally, socially, physically, or mentally—can 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 book 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 book 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

"Olga Khazan takes any topic she writes about and infuses it with so much humor and personality that you immediately want to read about it. With Weird, she weaves together fascinating profiles and research with her own experience to reveal the secret strength of being different."—Susan Cain, author of Quiet

"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."—The Washington Post

"[A]nimating, specific, rich, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.... For readers who love a well written, thoroughly researched social science book, Weird hits the spot. And for those who grew up like Khazan or see themselves in her story, it may be a balm for the soul."—Washington City Paper