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Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  928 ratings  ·  135 reviews
New York magazine's Science of Us editor explains the compelling psychology of awkwardness, and asks: what if the moments that make us feel most awkward are actually valuable?

Have you ever said goodbye to someone, only to discover that you're both walking in the same direction? Or had your next thought fly out of your brain in the middle of a presentation? Or accidentally
Hardcover, 300 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by Portfolio
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  928 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Arnoldas Rogoznyj
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Being human is exhausting and embarrasing.
Emily Ladau
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While one might argue that I'm biased since I was interviewed for this book (which was tons of fun!), I can genuinely say it's a really engaging read. I found myself nodding along, cringing at the various awkward encounters described, and cringing because of my own awkward experiences. But that's the point- awkwardness is universal. This book will cause you to examine and re-examine your own awkward experiences, and will give you just a bit more wisdom to carry with you for future awkward encoun ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this book enough to give it 3 stars. I didn't love it, but it was enjoyable. We read it for my work's book club and I wouldn't have picked it up otherwise.

Some things Dahl did were truly cringeworthy but others (such as going to a movie by yourself, eating out by yourself, talking with others near you while waiting for the train to come) seemed like the most low-key cringeworthy moments I could think of. Literally, who cares. People do those all the time and they aren't that awkward. I
Jan 30, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Pretty good!
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was so much fun, and had some lovely insights. I enjoyed it from start to finish, and really felt encouraged to embrace the awkward. A fun and uplifting read!
Aaron Baker
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really glad to have read this book. It really does help to put the cringe-worthy moments in an individual's past in perspective with the whole of humanity. Everyone has things from their past that they are not glad to think about, and that perspective helps a ton. ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dahl is a great writer; she is light-hearted and entertaining, and made me giggle out loud on several occasions as I read through her adventures in awkwardness. As a sociologist and academic, I know first hand how tedious and dry peer reviewed articles can be, so I appreciate Dahl's ability to sum up research in an accessible and relatable way. And as someone who is also introverted and awkward, I feel like I learned a bit about myself from reading this book. ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was more a 4.5. Topic was fascinating, and I'm taking away two main things.
1) the existence of the irreconcilable gap (the gap between how I see myself and how I think others see myself)
2) high self-clarity (not self-esteem) is what I want to have, to feel less awkward and comfortable under my own skin.

I really enjoyed how straightforward and easy of a read this was (or listen, in my case, narrated by the author). Not too much fluff is always good!
Dean Burnett
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Had the privilege of getting an advance copy of this book, and it really is worth your time and investment. We all get embarrassed or let fear of it dictate our lives, but Dahl really gets into the nitty gritty of how and why this happens to us, providing a lot of insight into the human condition as she does so. Being seen reading Cringeworthy is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a fun and easy read. Lost of interesting facts, stories, and tips. I'm not going to join an improv group anytime soon, but I do feel better equipped at dealing with cringe. ...more
Phyllis Barlow
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked up this book thinking it was just going to be amusing stories about embarrassing things that happen to us. There was some of that, but it was a lot more scholarly than I expected, very informative and educational.

I especially like what she says about self-talk; my version of self-talk has always been to remember something stupid I've done, and tell myself, "You're such an idiot!!" Melissa reminds us to use self-talk to affirm and encourage ourselves; and to not always use first-person.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Do you ever look back at your former self and realize what a dork you were? Do these memories haunt you? If so, Cringeworthy is the book for you! Melissa Dahl uses humor and compassion to explain these cringeworthy moments, and provides tools to help ease these memories into something less painful. A funny, heartwarming, relatable Good Read!
Craig Malkin
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
By turns hilarious and poignant, Dahl’s addictively readable Cringeworthy offers a touching portrayal of humanity at its most vulnerable, but it also provides a message of hope: the very moments we shrink from have the power to strengthen us and bring us closer together.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: academic
I wanted this to have more physiological grounding but it read like a memoir. I did appreciate the examples of modern-day awkward experiences, and had plenty of "oh man, been there!" moments, but I was left wanting more. ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I kept seeing this advertised/mentioned in a couple of articles earlier this week so I decided to pick up a copy of it and I'm so glad I did! It's such an enjoyable read- engaging and funny and (literally) personally well-researched. Melissa Dahl explores what it means to be awkward and, in doing so, sets out on a journey of sorts to see if she can 'cure' herself of her awkwardness. I enjoyed this book for a multitude of reasons (1- I'm awkward AF and I've yet to come across another self-helpish ...more
Vape King
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So many science books out there feel like eating spinach -- yes, it's good for you! But it's also not the most exciting thing in the world.

What Melissa Dahl has done with Cringeworthy is remarkable. By looking at her topic through a first-person lens, she manages to weave the science in with really humorous anecdotes.

I got an advanced copy and tore through it in two sittings. Even though it's non-fiction, it's a bit of a page-turner with a surprising amount of heart!

5/5 stars, would recommend
Stacy Snyder
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Loved the topic and enjoyed the parts that I read but had a hard time staying interested in the topic as a bit too dry for my taste. Barely made it half-way through and had to abandon as knew I’d never finish it.
Lau Riva Palacio
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved the effort Melissa Dahl makes to constantly prove her point. The book is really straightforward and her experiences are hilarious. I had a great time reading it.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty interesting read. I listened to the audio book, but I might recommend reading this one, as she references some pretty good studies that are harder to look up when listening!
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
She had me at the first sentence. Fansons for life! This book made me feel less alone in my awkwardly embarrassing existence. If Only our cringeworthy moments could be gone in an Mmmbop. :)
Matt Graupman
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a gawky, angsty teenager, I had this idea that when I grew up I’d no longer be such an awkward, nervous little mental case. Well, I’m 37-years-old now, a husband and a father, and I’m still hoping that someday I won’t feel so uncomfortable in my own skin. I’d always considered my social anxieties and missteps to be personality flaws in need of repair which is why Melissa Dahl’s “Cringeworthy: A Theory Of Awkwardness” came as such a revelation. As the science editor for “New York” magazine, sh ...more
Conor Ahern
"Awkward"--it's become practically an interjection in our world, where a million records bear witness to our embarrassments, where our whole life is recorded for excruciating review, where our access to so much of each other's lives makes us increasingly worried about how our own are being sized up. Melissa Dahl is here to save us from our endless navel gazing and nail biting--telling us that we needn't worry so much about awkwardness, given that the concept mostly applies to situations that oth ...more
Emily Polson
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a gift, and as Dahl puts it, "Being a human is exhausting and embarassing."

Relatable laughs aside, I also feel like I learned a lot from Cringeworthy. I especially appreciated Dahl's insight about awkwardness being a necessary reaction to reaching your "growing edge"--the point where you have to persist in that uncomfortable feeling in order to evolve as a person. I also liked her discussion of how empathy can be an emotion that leads to either contempt or compassion, depending on
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't really sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but I really liked it. I found it relatable, and the way it addresses of the universal awkwardness we all share was insightful. ...more
Brian Stankich
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I recommend Cringeworthy if you want to explore your personality, the way you interact with yourself and how you view others view of you. Melissa shares her own journey with relatable transparency and she also encourages you to do some self-assessment. She is pretty funny and a fine writer so you’ll be entertained as you entertain your moments of cringe.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
As cringey as the title may be, this was an excellent book. It explains why we feel uncomfortable in situations, and talks about how those situations are important for us to learn and to grow. Great read!
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was a lucky winner at a Goodreads giveaway, thanks to which I got a chance to read this book. I appreciated how much effort the author put into writing it. Not only is the subject of awkwardness well scholarly researched here, but the author also deliberately put herself into a position of a guinea pig on several occasions to further the investigation on the subject. She presents her findings in very digestible form - the book (partially a memoir) is entertaining while informative.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really fun and informative book that will make you feel a whole lot better about your awkwardness. It even has some good tips for trying to avoid it!
Wesley Policky
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A neat read about "Awkwardness". The author does a nice job of taking you through each topic as she is researching and establishing the premise of the book. ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great topic to explore and the author does it with wit and awkwardness. It makes me want put awkwardness on for a try . . . or maybe not!
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