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The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School
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The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  3,515 ratings  ·  624 reviews

When school lunchroom doors open, hungry students rush in, searching for tables where they wouldn't be outsiders. Of course, in middle school and high school, almost everyone is an outsider: the nerds, the new girls, the band geeks, the loners; even the "popular" cheerleaders. Alexandra Robbins' The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth takes us inside the hallways of real schools

Hardcover, 448 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Hachette Books
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Alexandra Robbins
Jan 09, 2012 Alexandra Robbins rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
To thank you awesome Goodreads friends for the Best Nonfiction win, I'll be giving away FREE COPIES of the new Geeks paperback. Just head on over to for a bunch of giveaways over the next week or two. There's a contest up there right now, based on the new Geeks video.

take care!

P. Aaron Potter
The title is, unfortunately, simply wrong.

This *should* have been much more compelling. As an academic, an educator, a past and present (and future) geek, one with geeklings of my own, and a guy who genuinely wants to be optimistic about our future as a country and a species, I'd love to read about how the geeks - intelligent, semi-obsessive nerds who get way too into some abstruse knowledge - are going to take over and turn our overly pragmatic and materialistic society into the Star Trek unive
I really struggled to get through this book.

Nuance doesn't sell.

I've been an educator for 10 years now, and I've become increasingly frustrated with our culture's mythologizing adolescence. The myths are based in truth - teenage years are awkward, there are bullies, peer approval/disapproval takes precedence - but our mainstream culture has bent and skewed and enlarged the truth to epic proportions, whether to sell books, movies, videos, merchandise, or a way of life. Alexandra Robbins is
Jan 04, 2012 Amy added it
I have enough to say about this book that I could write a good ol' fashioned book report on it, but I will try to keep my words to a minimum since I lack eloquence.

This is an interesting book, albeit with an idea that isn't revolutionary. Geeks rule the world? Shocker. In an age where technology is king, it only makes sense that the skinny, albino computer nerd will one day become the next Silicon Valley employee and the popular jock will be seriously disappointed when he can't go pro. And altho
This was clearly written by someone who wanted to be more popular than she was. I understand the sentiment. Her thesis is accurately encapsulated by the title, and she gives in boring detail the stories of a number of quirky teenagers who may or may not ultimately thrive, but we don't follow them into adulthood (with one exception) so we don't know. She falls prey to stereotypes. In her world being popular is a synonym for not too smart, but bitchy and manipulative. So it is not that suprising t ...more
Gary Anderson
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth is an important book for parents, educators, and any students who feel marginalized in their school or social life. Alexandra Robbins once again has her finger on the pulse of a critical issue faced by countless young people: persecution or ostracism because of being different from those who are considered popular. Robbins takes readers inside the lives and perspectives of “geeks, loners, punks, floaters, dorks, freaks, nerds, gamers, weirdos, emos, indies, scen ...more
Andrea Borod
As a high school teacher, I was excited to read this book after reading an eloquent interview with Alexandra Robbins in The problem with the book lies not with Robbins' sharp and accessible social analysis (this is her strength and, why she strays from it to include unbelievable dialogue, remains a mystery), but with the central characters: while trying to promote an understanding of the Cafeteria Fringe, Robbins follows a bunch of teenagers who speak as though their dialogue were wri ...more
Colleen Martin
This book both broke my heart and made it soar. The author followed a handful of high school outcasts for a year and chronicled their experiences, and the stories they tell are so reminiscent of what I (and quite a few other people, I'm sure) went through that the long-dormant, but very familiar, feelings of anger, resentment and despair bubbled up inside me as I read. Danielle, the "Loner", is almost my perfect foil. When she detailed how her books were better friends to her than most people ha ...more
I never quite understood that whole "High school is the best time of your life!" mantra, and after finishing this book, I can say with even more gusto that I'm so, so glad high school is over.

In my high school days, I wasn't cafeteria fringe, but I was - to pick one of Robbins' descriptors - a floater: Lots of acquaintances and a few close friends, but no single, branded group I identified with and latched onto for social validation. At the time, I was sure it was my floater status that caused
This was a great follow-up to reading It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living. While It Gets Better provided a great illustration of the far-too-precious expression of compassion to kids in crisis, this book explores just what that crisis feels like. Through the lives of 6 varied high school students and one teacher, Robbins presents the concerns, obstacles, weights and terrors of high school hierarchies. Every high school has its cliques, and we all mea ...more
Jul 19, 2011 Newengland rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Newengland by: Dana Huff
As the title indicates, the final score is Geeks 1, Jocks 0. Well, they're called "Populars" here, but you get the idea and you probably had your own name for them. The "Means," maybe.

Though non-fiction, Alexandra Robbins writes it like a novel, following seven story lines (six students, one teacher, all outsiders for one reason or another) and utilizing thoughts, dialogue, and actions, often with settings like the dreaded school cafeteria, hallways, and parking lots. Or parties. You know -- whe
Reading Alexandra Robbins' non-fiction is kind of like eating candy that you later find out is good for you. Her writing is story-like so that you're absorbed by every real life person she writes about as if it were a great novel, and later you realize that you have learned from the book without realizing it.
With that in mind, I was glued to the book, and eager to find out how the characters would be doing by the end of the book (particularly Blue and Whitney, although all were appealing).
The O
I checked this book out from the library because it looked like it might apply to me :)

The author interviewed about 7 students (and one teacher), talking about how each person is excluded from school cliques, but how their unique interests and courage to go against the crowd are positive qualities. She then gave each person a challenge. For Danielle, a loner who barely spoke to anyone, it was to simply speak to others. For Noah, a band geek, it was to take a leadership role. For Whitney, who was
This was an interesting read; I would consider myself a geek and an outcast so it was interesting look at high school Sociology. It was fascinating to peer into the different cliques and find that no matter who you are and what group you are in there is always the same gossiping and backstabbing. It’s sad but everyone was dealing with the same issues. For a non-fiction book I thought the narrative was excellent and Alexandra Robbins did of good job of telling a story; but I wish there was more a ...more
Brian Eshleman
I thought this book was going to be an objective study of the qualities that make those on the fringes of high school society stand out in later life, and it does contain snippets of data like that. Most of it, though, follows a handful of students on the fringes of their particular high school.

As demonstrated by the four stars I gave the book, I ended up liking the direction it took. Following outsiders longitudinally as they reflect on the pain of being on the fringes and as some of them make
I was expecting more of a focus on the adult lives of formerly bullied teens, but this book follows the travails of teens currently dealing with cliques and ostracism at school. Some of their stories are interesting, but ultimately the title is deceiving--we don't know whether or not these particular students "thrive" later in life because we don't see them into adulthood. I think the book's premise might have been more convincing had it been based on a long-term study. All we really see here ar ...more
I picked up this book because I enjoyed The Overachievers that much. The Geeks turned out to be a disappointment. While the individual character plots still read great, the analytical portion of the book is a whole different story. It is almost like it was written by another person - the writing is unstructured, hard to follow, lacking substance and factual content, while the topics do not seem well-researched (or even well-defined, for that matter). It feels like the author just slapped it toge ...more
I'm still not sure who this book was for. If it was intended for outcast students, maybe it's just me, but I know that I wouldn't have been able to read through the entire book if was actually a social outcast in high school. If it was for school teachers and administration, the book doesn't really rpovide any new interesting information. If ti was for parents, I guess the could take the time to read it, but then find out the book is saying the same thing they've been telling their kids: wait it ...more
Dec 30, 2012 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in social science
Goodreads readers picked wisely choosing this book as the 2011 Readers Choice Winner for non-fiction. Although my edition was 396 pages I wasn't bored for a second. Robbins introduces the reader to 7 "outcasts" of the public school system and follows them through their school year: Joy, the new girl; Whitney, the popular bitch; Blue, the gamer; Eli, the nerd; Noah, the band geek; Regan, the weird girl and Danielle, the loner. The author did a wonderful job of finding diverse subjects with entire ...more
The book begins by introducing the reader to Danielle, a shy junior who feels uncomfortable during lunch. She has nobody to sit with. There is also a history of bullying in Danielle's past. The author then introduces the reader to a total of 7 "cafeteria fringe" and follow them throughout the year. These are the quirky people who are artistic, emotional, gay, shy, or geeky. Gathering data from sociological studies, the author ascertains that the skills used for popularity in high school are not ...more
I read her book on sororities years ago so I'm interested to see her take on the other end of the popularity spectrum!

Update: So, I didn't finish it. I got over 1/3rd of the way through and it just wasn't doing it for me. It was very heavy on the individual narratives and while I realize the author got very close to her subjects and found them to be fascinating, I didn't need to hear every detail of their existence. I guess I felt like there was too much narrative and not enough analyzation.
This book languished on my bedside table for 6 weeks before I finished it, which is never a good sign. If it had a different title I might have liked it better. As it is, the author gives a series of case studies of teens that she observed over the course of a year while they were in high school. She uses little in the way of evidence that either the geeks she observed or geeks in general go on to thrive, beyond citing celebrities who have self-identified as former geeks. She does cite the geeks ...more
Sabrina *The REAL Princess*
Jun 26, 2012 Sabrina *The REAL Princess* rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone in high school
Dear Jocks, Populars, Plastics and all those who belittle nerds/geeks/outsiders for the fun of it:

Thank you!


Sabrina, one of the biggest nerds in existance, representing the entire nerd/geek/outsider population (and there's a lot of us)

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I was supposed to be studying for exams when I picked up this novel but I figured if I was going to read something, I might as well read something non-fiction and educational.

Before reading this book
Jul 15, 2013 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in teenage dynamics
Shelves: nonfiction, 4-star
Author Alexandra Robbins gives us case studies of many students who are on the fringe and some students that are the "popular" ones.

Some of the background on students is so detailed that it gets a little slow, but things pick back up as individual stories progress. I did find that at times I got a little confused with who was who in which stories, nothing major though.

I think this topic is very interesting and I found Robbins findings and thoughts very relevant. I do think that schools across th
Jenn Estepp
Although I think this book sometimes suffers from "using (social) science to justify things that are obvious, I still found it to be an engrossing and worthwhile read. And, for anyone who has forgotten just how serious things can be in high school, it's a good reminder. At the same time, some of the highlighted behaviours - w/r/t cliques, group think and passive aggression - are ones that we are lucky if we leave behind in school. Unfortunately, I've found the same sort of activities to be true ...more
Guadalupe Salgado
High school is a place where you seem to live or die by the clique you are part of.Each clique seems to define how you act, look, dress, where you hang out, who you hang out with, and who you should never interact with.In The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, Robbins presents "The Quirk Theory," in which she states that the interests, passions and characteristic that get kids teased in school are the very same quirks that turn them into cool, interesting adults. Robbin explain why this happens by u ...more
There's nothing wrong with wanting to tell kids who feel alone or outcast during high school that "it gets better" and that they can be successful. But this book doesn't say anything new or terribly important about the plight of quirky kids who don't fit in. The author's "quirk theory," (which, simply stated, is that the thing that makes you stand out in high school could become the thing that makes you succeed as an adult) isn't so much a theory (in the scientific sense, where it explains trend ...more
Jan 04, 2012 Chloe rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who want to read about school popularity/cliques and don't mind a fair bit of sensationalizm
Shelves: 2012
I've read The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, also by Robbins, and enjoyed her style of writing as it merges the non-fiction style of writing with more vivid, almost fictional in style, recounts of the lives of overachievers, so I decided to pick this book when I saw it. I certainly wasn't let down as she continues to utilize a fly-on-the-wall, sensationlized (because I really have little doubt that it has been to make things more interesting) style of writing, mixed with her own ...more
In addition to buying books at stores and on my kindle, i started going to the library to borrow books cause my reading addiction is getting expensive. This was the first book i borrowed from the libraries "new release" section.

First, i should say i am the type of person who feels the need (compulsive?) to finish any book i start, even if i am loathing it. So what i discovered is borrowing from the library not only saves me money but saves me time, cause if i dont finish a borrowed book by the
I thought the individual stories went on a little too long, and some of the initial research parts weren't as interesting as the last 1/3 of the book. The issues discussed in terms of what the schools and adults do wrong in the lives of kids were crucial and important and I wish these things could be more easily discussed/solved.

As someone who never really had a problem fitting in, I know how lucky I am (maybe because I went to one of those schools where I was in classes with kids like me and w
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New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Robbins is the recipient of the 2014 John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism (one
More about Alexandra Robbins...
Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis: Advice from Twentysomethings Who Have Been There and Survived

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“Polarization is just one of many ways group membership can change an individual. Perhaps the most striking effect of group membership is that it can modify individuals’ perceptions of themselves. Unable to separate their personal introspection from the ways they believe other people perceive them, teenagers may have what psychologists call an “imaginary audience,” meaning they believe that other people are just as attuned to their appearance and behavior as they are (cue any pimple cream commercial). These perceptions can affect various aspects of their lives. For example, psychologists found that when Asian girls were subtly reminded about their Asian identity, they performed better on math tests. When they were subtly reminded about their gender, however, they performed worse.” 4 likes
“No student should be encouraged -- by anyone -- to change himself until he's "normal," a term that says everything and means nothing.” 4 likes
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