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The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal about Us

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,100 Ratings  ·  216 Reviews
A provocative and surprising exploration of the longest sustained relationships we have in life--those we have with our siblings.
Nobody affects us as deeply as our brothers and sisters. Our siblings are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to, how to conduct friendships and when to
ebook, 320 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Riverhead Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to O_susannah by: Stephen Colbert
So I wanted to like this book a lot better than I ended up actually liking it. I'm really interested in sibling dynamics, especially in the effects of birth order. And he definitely talks about these things. But the book, to me, tried to be too many things at once. It tried to cover too much ground, it tried in many ways to be a "how-to" book on blending families, raising kids, etc., and it tried to be academic, but failed because it was overly anecdotal at the expense of academic-ness.

Jt O'Neill
Nov 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always defined myself, in part, by my place in my family. I am the fifth child in a family of nine siblings and the first daughter of two daughters. My sister is the eighth child in the family and we are separated by 7 years. Our parents were married at the close of WW2 and we grew up under the strong influence of the Catholic Church. Our parents remained married until my dad's death in 1996 so there were no step siblings or half siblings involved in my life.

My sibs shaped who I am in w
Guillermo Jiménez
Creo que el título puede ser un tanto engañoso, pues Kluger lo que termina haciendo es un compendio de notas de divulgación científica (sin mucho rigor, o casi nulo, puesto que no hay referencias bibliográficas) al respecto de la complejidad, y de cómo cualquier problema que nos rodea como especie, mundo y universo, está estrechamente relacionado con los vínculos entre lo simple y lo complejo: simplejidad.

Luego, parece que termina siendo un comercial desmesurado para el Santa Fe Institute, y un
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far my entirely unscientific conclusion from this pseudo-scientific book is that if you want to give your offspring equal chances at success and happiness you should either have just one(no division of parental resources) or 4+ (division so great no one is favored over any other). As a parent of 3 I am not sure i can glean much of help here(I suspect trying to subvert the age old sociological constructs that underpin sibling relationships might be a task beyond me), but I find the book very r ...more
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a well done study on how growing up with or without siblings affects our childhood and adult behaviors. The statistics are represented with personal and third-party anecdotes. This helped me see how my sitters and I break or adhere to what science says is likely for us to experience. It also made me look into getting back in touch with them. Highly recommend for a weekend read.
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars, giveaways
I enjoyed reading The Sibling Effect, not necessarily because it taught me anything substantive, but because it helped illuminate some of the problems and joys I experienced while growing up. As the eldest of three children, I know what I'm talking about when I say that siblings are simultaneously wonderful and terrible creatures.

Jeffrey Kluger illustrates his points by writing candidly about his own siblings (and step-siblings and half-siblings) and what it was like to be one of four boys, a
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Ugh, I'm throwing in the towel on this one - it just wasn't scholarly enough for me (ok, it wasn't scholarly at all!). Sure, the author reported on an assortment of sibling studies done (not that he cited his sources) but then he followed it up with how it applied to his own family.

And worst of all, he'd top it all off by using some celebrity or another to model the research. I find no value whatsoever in reading anecdotal evidence based on the public persona of various celebrities. Maybe the a
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed in this book. It was pretty simplistic. The author grew up in a family with four boys, so maybe he didn't realize how much gender also plays a role in families and how siblings relate to each other. He had a whole chapter on the effect of birth order on siblings and how they relate to each other and their parents. I felt that by not even acknowledging that gender can also play a role in these kinds of things, he missed a huge opportunity.
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was very disappointing. The book is part autobiography about the author's relationship with his brothers, part parenting book, and part academic research review. It ends up being good at none of these. Furthermore, by trying to do too much, the books seemed to never find its focus or move towards anything in particular.

While the autobiographical part could have been interesting, it was too intermittent to really capture my attention. But the author failed supremely in the academic sect
As the third of four sisters, the topic of siblings interests me immensely and I was hoping to understand our sisterly dynamic better after reading this book. Unfortunately no easy answers were to be found: it seems the variables that go into sibling science are so complicated that it's very difficult to tease apart the contributions of birth order, gender proportion, parental favoritism, etc. What correlations have been found most often didn't apply to my sisters and me, alas.

The studies and e
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Felt flat and seemed filled with fluff. I think it disappointed me because I was expecting a rigorous study and firm conclusions, even though I know that a topic like sibling relations doesn’t lend itself easily to rigorous studies and firm conclusions. Still – this could have been better. It’s impossible to write a book on this subject without talking about your own experiences with your siblings. And Kluger, growing up with three brothers close in age and then getting mixed up with even more s ...more
Kim Novak
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I happened to be listening to NPR's TED Radio Hour podcast at my desk right after the New Year began; a re-broadcast from August 2014 called "Growing Up" that featured Jeffrey Kluger, the author. This lead me to listening to his full TEDx Talk, "What Makes Siblings Bond?" and compelled me to purchase four copies of this book (one for me and each of my siblings). I wanted to read the book before sending it to my brothers and sister. When I put the books and a letter to all three of them in their ...more
Nov 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, adult
The facts presented here are interesting but seem unscientific to me. Kluger does list studies to back him up, but the anecdotes from his own life often conflict with the findings. Birth order is important, but not that important. Parents pick favorites, but mostly it doesn't matter. The youngest boy in a family of many boys is more likely to be gay, but in his family the opposite is true. I'm left feeling like there is no real truth to his analysis of sibling relationships other than they are i ...more
Joy H.
THE SIBLING EFFECT - Brothers, Sisters, and the Bonds That Define Us
by Jeffrey Kluger (first published March 2009)

Added 9/23/11.

9/23/11 - I discovered this book today among the NY Times book update reviews for 9/23/11.
The title of the book review is: "What Our Siblings Do to Us".
Below is a link to the review:

A footnote at the review says:
"A version of this review appeared in print on September 25, 2011, on page BR18 of the Sunday Book Review with the headl
Nour Sharif
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, english, 2017
4.5 stars
Actual Rating 3.5 Stars
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A completely non-scholarly and very readable book on the intricacies of sibling relationships. I was particularly drawn to the chapters on divorce, blended families, and gay siblings.
Oct 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How much of our psyches are influenced by our siblings? Does birth order really matter? Do our parents play favorites? Jeffrey Kluger, a senior editor at Time magazine, explores these questions, and many others, in his new book.

I have to admit that I approached this book with more than just curiosity. I have two children, who are close in age and, I can’t really imagine how their sibling experience may go. I come from a large family—I could say that my mother had six children. While she did have
The Sibling Effect begins with Kluger's personal observations of his relationship with his three brothers, and then Kluger tries to explain what he's observed using the relatively small and often contradictory research available about sibling relationships. The book would have worked better if he'd just picked one or the other, and probably would have worked best if he'd just chosen to make it a memoir and dropped the pretense of science entirely.

Kluger appears to want to include all of the rese
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had real high hopes for this book and it ended up being a disappointment, mostly because I was looking to either gain insight into my own experiences as one of two sisters or to learn what to expect as I raise my young one of each pairing. However, the topic is so broad that neither of those were treated in much depth in this book. And the author had numerous anecdotes about growing up as one of four brothers with step siblings and half siblings, experiences totally foreign to me that did not ...more
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book specifically because I really enjoyed the TED talk the author gave, and I wanted to get the full weight of his work by reading the book he wrote about it. I was shocked at how validating this was for my emotional connection with my siblings, since I know so many people who are not close like we are -- I guess I assumed that maybe we were the oddballs, and our connection might even be somehow "unhealthy". (I suppose my point of view is skewed because my husband - understandably ...more
Jenni V.
I thought Daniel Shaw had a great analogy on family dynamics: "In most households parents serve the same big-picture role as doctors on grand rounds. Siblings are like the nurses on the ward; they're there every day."

What made this book different from others I've read is that it acknowledged and talked about birth order studies but didn't treat them as the "end-all, be-all" factor. The book covered many other contributing factors and perspectives I hadn't read about before.

For example, I loved t
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, nonfiction
Great book for anyone who's thought about birth order, the effect of siblings on each other, or why Mom always liked their brother best! The author not only contributes a solid science background, he also tells many tales about growing up as one of four boys. Plus, there's lots of examples of other sibling relationships, like that of Ken and Ric Burns. If you choose an audio format, the narration is also first-rate.
I really wanted to like this book but it just wasn't as in-depth as I would have liked. It seemed like it was leaning towards being a self-help book for parents which isn't what I was expecting at all. Oh well.
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Kluger examines the bonds siblings have, as well as how they can affect one another, good and bad, younger and older, half siblings, step-siblings and full-blooded ones.

Intertwined with his story of his brothers and later step-siblings and half siblings, Kluger looks at the relationships siblings have with one another throughout life, from babyhood to childhood and beyond. He looks at siblings tussles to hierarchy to effects on teen pregnancy a
Mike Smith
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It seems obvious, but I hadn't really thought about it until I read this book: your relationships with your siblings will almost certainly be the longest relationships of your life. Your siblings will be with you from early childhood until old age. This book explores the effects that siblings have on each other. It covers such topics as sibling rivalry and fighting, birth order (first- and last-born tend to get more perks than middle children), parental favouritism, divorce and step- and half-si ...more
Jul 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was another book I picked up at a bookstore that sold used books. Years ago I read a book about birth order and this book looked like it would be interesting too. The author shares some of his family stories and how his relationship with his family has affected his world. He uses studies, science, and research to defend some points about the role of sisters and brothers and how that role guides us in what we do later in life. While I enjoyed the book I wish he had used different chapter hea ...more
Jason Hamilton
From the book The Sibling Effect - What the bonds among brothers and sisters reveal about us by Jeffrey Kluger

Page 7:

From the time we're born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and our cautionary tales. They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They help us learn how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach bro
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I don't regret reading the book, I had picked it up under the assumption that it would dive deeply into the science of siblings, and instead found it to be lacking in that regard. Part of it may be, as Kluger mentions at points, that studies on sibling bonds are hard to conduct because family relationships in of themselves are complex and the dynamic can have a huge impact on how siblings interact. Still, I found myself wishing that there was more meat to the book.

One of the things that I
This book examines how growing up with siblings affects our personalities and emotional development. I was attracted to the book because I have a close-in-age younger sister with whom I don’t interact much as an adult. So, I was interested to see what the author had to say about that sort of situation.

Perhaps I would have gotten more out of the book if I were a parent or if I had a less dysfunctional relationship with my own sibling. The author seems to assume that most adults have (or want to
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Jeffrey Kluger is a senior writer for TIME. He joined TIME as a contributor in 1996, and was named a senior writer in 1998. He has written a number of cover stories, including reports on the connection between sex and health, the Mars Pathfinder landing, the loss of the shuttle Columbia, and the collision aboard the Mir space station.

In 2002, Mr. Kluger along with two other colleagues, won First P
More about Jeffrey Kluger...

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