Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers” as Want to Read:
Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,336 Ratings  ·  268 Reviews
“I believe those of us with Asperger’s are here for a reason, and we have much to offer. This book will help you bring out those gifts.”
In his bestselling memoir, Look Me in the Eye, John Elder Robison described growing up with Asperger’s syndrome at a time when the diagnosis didn’t exist. He was intelligent but socially isolated; his talents won him jobs with toy makers
ebook, 304 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Be Different, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Be Different

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
I finished Be Different almost a month ago, but I’ve been thinking about it all this time, trying to decide what to write. Robison’s latest book is as well-written and entertaining as his first book, Look Me In the Eye. I think I’ve hesitated to write about Be Different because I see so much of myself in the anecdotes. I see more of my son, which makes sense, as he’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s, but there’s a lot of me in there, too. Even having acknowledged several months ago that I have som ...more
Cait (Paper Fury)
I specifically picked this up because it's by the same author as Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's, which was a hilarious, clever and excellently written memoir I stumbled upon earlier this year. But, dudes, this book is not as good. Nopity nope.

For starters, it repeats a lot of the stuff in LMitE. I growl at repetition, I do, so that was instantly dull reading for me.

Secondly, he talks more about the technical side of Aspergers/Autism. So things that define a person with ASD. But, a
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm an Aspie-loving Momma who feels this book must be read by anyone who is personally impacted by Asperger's Syndrome - as the Aspie, as a teacher, or as a family member. It was tremendously insightful to peek into the reasoning of an Aspergian as a tool toward understanding. I have begged my daughter to read it due to the continuing thread throughout the book that an Aspie is truly capable of more than the average individual if depression or discouragement is overcome. Through relating and ack ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good overall content, but author fails to acknowledge female readers. I didn't expect him to offer dating advice for girls the way he does for boys because he, after all, had never been a girl. It would be nice, however, if he didn't alienate female readers entirely in those moments he talked about "girls"--and there were a lot of them--especially since this book was purported to function as a "guide" for all Aspergians and misfits, which I presumed to include females as well as males. His son's ...more
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self
I felt affirmed by this book, and the highlights I made in the Kindle version are going to be handy bookmarks to remind myself of the author's advice about improving my social awareness. All of us in my family are "Aspergians" to different extents, and the more I read makes me realize that my mother also is on the spectrum, which made it difficult for me to get n-typical feedback about how to get by when I was growing up. Books like these from the "autism speaks" community (including Temple Gran ...more
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Eh. I wasn't impressed by either the advice given or the writer's description of his life with autism spectrum disorder. Granted, he grew up in the 1970s, but his problems with girls seemed to be based in objectifying girls rather than Aspbergers (seriously, why do guys, no matter how geeky, neuro-atypical, awkward or socially inept, only want to approach the PRETTY girls? Why do they all feel they deserve cheerleaders and never look for the girls who are themselves geeky or awkward? It's really ...more
Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian by John Elder Robison is a treasure-for people on the autism spectrum, their friends, families, teachers, and, maybe, for everyone interested in the different ways people are wired in this world and how that feels from the inside. It is also, I suspect, a useful self-help book, a sharing from one person on the spectrum to others who might want to figure out how better to live in a neurotypical world with some degree of comfort and happiness.

Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having an aspergers son, I found it very helpful in pointing out lots of things too small and detaled to go into here, but it gave me a further insight into how aspie kids view the world and its social rules. The author, Being an undiagnosed aspie until he grew up, realised he was different and learned to copy and follow and cope. More than that he listened to the things that attracted him and made a career for himself. Descriptive, and matter of fact, it's well written and takes you inside the ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So, this was by an aspergian. Let me tell you, reading through it, half the stuff, like how to deal with other people, he could have learned from reading Dale Carnegie. I'm glad to hear that having a diagnosis for his behavioral differences made him feel better about himself, but it seems that he lived his life to the fullest without the diagnosis, and having found out earlier might have changed the way he lived his life, hence he would not have made the strides that he did. I also felt that he ...more
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I often say some books should be pamphlets. Now I know that some books should be blog posts.
I couldn't get through this. Maybe it's better if it's not on audio.

“For anyone who has difficulty fitting in, this book is fantastic.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures

“In a love poem to his wife, Pedro Salinas, the Spanish poet, wrote, ‘Glory to the differences / between you and me.’ John Robison teaches us to celebrate differences
like Salinas did, but also offers clear insight and valuable advice on how to cope with the challenges that being different can create. This book transcends the specific case of Asperger’s syndrome and is a less

Dec 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: differences
A book written directly for people with Aspergers and their parents and teachers, to explain how neurotypical people use social skills that can be learned to have satisfying productive lives. The author shares many of his life stories with his thoughts and reactions and how others perceived them. Then he describes when he decided to work on each of his skills and how he went about it.
Short chapters move the book along quickly. The stories generally show that the repeated efforts of others faile
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Be Different is the second book by American author and Aspergian, John Elder Robison. When his memoir, Look Me In The Eye: My life With Asperger’s became a publishing success, no-one was more surprised than Robison himself. When it began to be adopted by certain schools, Robison was asked for a book with more insight into the condition, and Be Different is the result. In this book, Robison looks at the quirks of the Aspergian brain that can lead to disability or expertise, depending on how they ...more
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
Our family has struggled with more problems getting help for my son than will fit in this box. Finally, after he had serious enough issues, he was hospitalized this Spring. There, we received a very helpful diagnosis: Asperger's Syndrome. It made so much sense. At 12 years old, even he, felt a sense of relief. This book adds something else to that relief: hope and inspiration. This is a must read for parents of children on the Spectrum. Robison asserts that life gets easier for Aspergians as the ...more
Ashley Kelley
This book gives the first hand account of what it was like growing up with Asperger's syndrome before the diagnosis even existed. Robinson, diagnosed with AS at the age of 40, looks at things like fitting in, manners, dating, bullies, emotions and sensory overload (to name a few topics) and how it is different for him compared to those without AS - or "neurotypicals". He also gives advice and tips for how to be successful. As a mother of a teenager with Aspergers, this biography was touching, in ...more
Ann LaBar
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very readable. The personal stories are at times very funny which makes what could be an uncomfortable subject to some approachable. The advice and insights into Aspberger Syndrome are extremely helpful. I have given a copy to my Aspberger daughter and very likely Aspberger husband to read. I think this book arrived at the right time for my teenaged daughter who is having a horrific time making friends. The message that life for someone with Aspbergers only gets better and better with ...more
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: high-school, 2011
Great book! I just finished it, despite not having read his first one, Look Me in the Eye. I plan on reading that one soon.
I'm a fifteen-year-old with AS, and I really took a lot from this book. Several things he described pertained to my symptoms of AS perfectly, such as the dislike of certain sounds when other people made them, but being fine when he made them. This is me exactly. I found it very insightful, and it gave me immense hope for my future and my occupation after having problems with
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This is a great book! John Elder Robison is a smart man. It is so helpful and enlightening to read about why an Aspergian thinks and acts the way he does, and since Mr. Robison writes from personal experience, it is an amazing opportunity to step inside his mind. He is humorous and straightforward, and this book will stay with me for a long time.
Erin Duffy
Jun 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be fair, I read this right after "Look Me in the Eyes" which is one of the best biographies I have ever read. It was so charming and fresh. So when I read this book, which is very good, but more straightforward and less entertaining, I rated it lower than it probably deserves. I liked the advice at the end of the book the most. I am changing my stars to 4.
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really liked his first book, Look Me in the Eye, but this one was just okay. I think it would be great for someone that is autistic or has Asperger's, or has a child with it. It is mostly about his experiences with it and sort of a handbook on how to handle it.
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clear basic guide to the author's life with Aspergers.
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! Good basic advice, even for a "nypical." Here are my favorite quotes (LOTS):

page 34: When you are young, you have not yet made a reputation in your community. You're an unknown quantity. If you act strange, people will be very wary because they don't know what to make of you...Later in life, once you build a reputation for competence, the same strange behavior will be dismissed as harmless eccentricity. So the stuff that gets you chased out of town at sixteen gets laughed off at
Becky Crecelius
I picked this up after reading his earlier autobiography, Look Me in the Eye. I like Robison's dry, humorous tone. Reading his book is like having a conversation with a very straightforward, honest, and direct person. His writing has allowed me to more clearly understand the way Aspergian people perceive the world. Though it does become a bit repetitive at times, overall it is a worthy read.

Dennis Hanks
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ascertain keys to life.

Builds on 'Look Me In The Eye '. Meant to be a self -help guide for Aspergians. I found it useful for insights into the Aspergian mind - actions and outlook. Don't know how useful it might be to Aspergians or their parents, but I found it helpful. Recommend.
Lilia Stephens
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How to be different and succeed !

Enjoyed this book so much ! I can only feel admiration and respect for John and his journey. We can learn so much from him and his challenges and his success in all aspects of life. Cheers !
Peter Maurer
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting.
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating! Will help me better understand my students that have been diagnosed on the spectrum
Kathy Hoopmann
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it!
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great perspective on living life as an Aspergian. Helpful advice and a great list of resources in the back.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Atypical: Life with Asperger's in 20 1/3 Chapters
  • The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome
  • Pretending to Be Normal: Living with Asperger's Syndrome
  • Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence
  • The Oasis Guide to Asperger Syndrome: Advice, Support, Insight, and Inspiration
  • Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism
  • Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome
  • All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome
  • A Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism: How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive
  • Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism
  • Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism
  • Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story
  • Send in the Idiots: Stories from the Other Side of Autism
  • Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism
  • Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin's Mother Tells the Family Story
  • Following Ezra: What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love From His Extraordinary Son
  • Asperger's From the Inside Out: A Supportive and Practical Guide for Anyone with Asperger's Syndrome
  • Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic
I was born in rural Georgia, where my dad worked as a country preacher. I was kind of a misfit growing up. In fact, the bigger I got, the more misfit I became. At age 8, I got a little brother, and he was a misfit too. I dropped out of school in 10th grade, and never looked back. My brother dropped out a few years later, following in my footsteps.

I've had a number of careers . . . I designed sound
More about John Elder Robison...

Share This Book

“It does not matter what sixty-six percent of people do in any particular situation. All that matters is what you do.” 13 likes
“Simply making myself aware of others has remarkably improved my social life. People accept me much faster now that I ignore them less.” 9 likes
More quotes…