Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World” as Want to Read:
Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  618 ratings  ·  97 reviews
In the tradition of Susan Cain's Quiet and Scott Stossel's My Age of Anxiety, Atlantic staff writer Olga Khazan reclaims the concept of "weird" and turns it into a badge of honor rather than a slur, showing how being different -- culturally, socially, physically, or mentally -- can actually be a person's greatest strength.

Most of us have at some point in our lives felt lik
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Hachette Go
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 Weird, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Weird

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  618 ratings  ·  97 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World
May 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting read. The problem is that no one in this book is really that weird, which is to say everyone feels weird. Everyone. To paraphrase Sarah Manguso: Outsiders pretend to be insiders and are disliked as a result. Insiders pretend to be outsiders and everyone cheers along.
I wish Kazan had dealt more with the contradictions in social dynamics and the internal mechanics of alienation rather than obvious markers of difference. That’s my fault for not reading the description more carefully.
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book wasn't what I expected. It was not really about the weirdness referred to in the title but about more obvious physical traits, upbringings, or careers that leaves one socially unable to fully relate and make friends. Somehow standing in the authors mind on the fringe of social acceptance. But some categorize as weird are simply people from other cultures or with health concerns and I see nothing weird about that beyond the fact I don't think it is weird but just cruel.

Having a differen
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
What does it mean to be socially different ("weird")? How does this label and the social experiences that go along with it shape us? Which lens should we look at it through? These are some of the questions Khazan explores in her book, Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World.

The pivotal question of course is this: Is being weird such a bad thing? Certainly, it can lead to feelings of discomfort, alienation and being misunderstood or marginalized. However, when we embrace “weird”
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
"But believing that your weirdness is your superpower can also be hugely beneficial. There is evidence that thinking about your circumstances in a different way—a process called cognitive reappraisal—can help you cope with challenges better. Perceiving what makes you weird as being what gives you strength can, ultimately, make you happier. If you already possess the lemons of social rejection, you might as well make a really odd lemonade."

I've had a mixed relationship with this book. From the ge
Dec 29, 2020 rated it liked it
In Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World, Olga Khazan explores that subtle feeling of alienation or oddness or exclusion.

Although people can be weird, it was difficult to read this work and not conclude that these feelings are, paradoxically, all but universal. Even the popular kid that bullied or just passively excluded you in school probably also felt isolated. Or, to borrow from Foucault, it is very difficult to escape that sense that we are all both guards and prisoners i
St Fu
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Imagine finding social distancing comfortable. Since I could easily imagine it, I became interested in the author of an article to this effect by Olga Khazan that led me to this book. Who reads a book titled Weird anyway? The blurb says that most of us have felt that way at times, which suggests to me that the publisher had high hopes for this book--a readership of "most of us."

It turns out that this book is about successful people whose differences did not hold them back. I can see that as an a
Marilyn Jess
Aug 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
Disappointed with this book. This was a summer 2020 selection for my book club, The Next Big Idea book club, which is a virtual club with thousands of members.

Why did this one not measure up? Because it left me without hope that so-called "weird" people could have a happy or even satisfying life. I have a favorite quote--why fit in when you were born to stand out? The author never seemed comfortable in her own skin--a Russian native, who never seems to integrate into the American culture.

The p
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this combination memoir, collection of short profiles, and summary of social science research. It was fun getting to know the author and her interview subjects while learning some of the science behind group dynamics.
Mar 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
I really wish that I would've looked at reviews for Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World by Olga Khazan before making the impulse buy on this Audible Deal of the Day. I've never been afraid to be "weird" and have always danced to the beat of my own drum. When I read the synopsis of Weird, I thought this book was going to be right up my alley. I was wrong. I went into this book expecting something empowering and, in a way, uplifting. I got either of these things. I don't even ...more
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Part memoir, part social science study, Weird is a worthy, must read for anyone who's felt like no matter what crowd in which they find themselves, it's never quite their crowd. As someone who's read a lot of Khazan's journalism in the past, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how funny she is, too! Something that doesn't come across as much in her shorter pieces by shines through in the long form. ...more
Bari Dzomba
Apr 17, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF at 20% and returned to amazon for a refund. Not worth $16 for this crappy book. Shameful that some other authors recommended this book.
I picked this up as an Audible daily deal because the premise sounded interesting, but got a pretty delightful shock when about two hours in, I found that it heavily features my hometown. It started with all the classics about it sucking -- placement on the Texas Monthly Bad Jobs List of 1978, being in TX-13, which at R+33* is the most conservative district in the U.S., etc.

Being a full-time resident of Wichita Falls, I guess gives me a slightly different take on this book. It was fun to see a
Jenn McKee
Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Read this because of The Next Big Idea book group, which has been a mixed bag, overall. Most of the books I've read for NBI (so far) I'd actually give about 3.5 stars (were that an option).

They tend to blend together, honestly, in that almost all of them use a lot of anecdotes to demonstrate their points - which is fine, but is beginning to feel formulaic and rote. (And there's never much sense of momentum pushing you forward.) Plus, there's the matter of, "wait, who is that guy again?" when it
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Way back a few lives ago I was an academic Psychologist, researching social psychology and personality, so it was a joy to read this book that focused on difference and its positive and negative consequences through a social science (and mostly social psychology!) lens. It's a very interesting narrative, looking at the reasons why differences noticed and often punished, the positives of difference (such as creativity), the negatives of difference (such as feeling like an outsider leading to anxi ...more
May 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20-21
we are all weird, most get to be weird by being considered 'normal'.
can go on and on.
this book does not do this, she defined what weird parameters she was using and stuck to it. refreshing.
she did keep reverting back to her own story over and over.
we see the world and those in it thru our own experiences...
so really critiquing the fact that the author weaved her own story throughout the book is taking away from the point.
so fascinated on the concept that people CAN change...
thinking I should pr
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being an immigrant (and Russian Jewish American), I could relate to this book on so many levels. Olga brings her personal story but also weaves in a lot of stories about different kinds of outsiders (a surgeon with dwarfism, a liberal lady teaching in a conservative college, a transgender mayor, etc). She also shares many interesting insights from social psychology about norms, group dynamics and how outsiders interplay with those. I highly recommend to anyone who ever felt like the odd one out.
Apr 07, 2020 rated it liked it
The question at the heart of Olga Khazan's book is this: "how can people who are different embrace whatever it is that makes them unusual... and use it to power them?" Examining the ways we all sometimes feel like outsiders, why we want, so much, not to be outsiders, and what we can learn from those who have overcome rigid boundaries like race, location, political party, class, and sexual orientation, Khazan surveys just what it means to be weird (and there's a spectrum). If you've ever felt lik ...more
Aaron Mikulsky
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Editor errors: page 156 (paragraph 1), 199 (3), 235 (5), 237 (1), and 246 (4). #Weird Intentional?

Some interesting notes to share:
“We are a nation of accidental outsiders.” Nearly 1 in 8 Americans experience social anxiety. Most Americans report feeling lonely and misunderstood. 47% of Americans sometimes or always feel “left out.” Loneliness is not simply introversion; “it’s a gap between the amount of social interaction a person would like to have and the amount they experience.” Lonely humans
Jun 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
I have some problems with this one, starting with the title and the claim that it's about weird people/weirdness, while it's definitely not. It's just a collection of many very different stories, so different that the author didn't manage to get deep enough into any of these topics.

Some examples:

1. The stories about a female NASCAR driver and a guy who is working with children, they both experience sexism. This doesn't make them weird, it just shows that there's sexism! But Khazan's comment is:
Simon Hohenadl
May 11, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
This book promises to show what the advantages of being an outsider are. After the hours in, it still is a loose collection of rather depressing stories about discriminated individuals without any strengths they could draw from this.
Jennifer Schultz
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read if you: Enjoy books like Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon or have ever felt out of place.

This is a fascinating look at those who, for various reasons, are non-mainstream--from a doctor born with a form of dwarfism, a transgender woman who became the mayor of a small town, a female NASCAR driver, a former Amish woman and former Mormon man, a conservative social psychologist, and more. Drawing from her own feelings of "otherness" stemming from growing up Russian-American in a small Texas
Maura McGrath
Jun 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-print
I'd give this book 2.5. Even though I knew this book was written by a journalist, I realized what I was looking for was something written by a sociologist or psychologist. Through out the book the author jumps between different people who don't feel like they are part of a community and then sprinkles in various studies about outsiderness. I think the author needed a better understanding of weird beyond having different characteristics than a group. When I think of weird people, it's more about ...more
Josephine Olivier
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Weird by Olga Khazan is a book on how deviating from the norm can have its advantages. The book explains the psychology of why we don’t like those who deviate from the norm, and why social norms are a thing. It also explains how the isolation of certain groups of people can impact their mental health negatively. Weird tells the story of several people and their journey through not conforming to the norm and being what society would call outcasts. It tells the story of their struggles but also th ...more
Dec 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was packed with solid sociological and psychological research and excellent journalistic anecdotes. Part autobiography/ excavation of the author's psyche and part examination of the motivating factors driving social group dynamics and the behaviors of individuals within social groups, this text provides an excellent overview of the current research on what it means to be a social deviant (or outlier, or norm disrupter, or -- as her title puts it, "weird").

She talk
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teams, nbic-books
When this book showed up in the Next Big Idea Club box I thought that I’d relate to this book, and I did. While I may not be “weird” in any obvious sense, but I’ve definitely experienced the not fitting in feeling for a variety of reasons. And as a book, Weird is a bit meta. It’s a weird book about the challenges and benefits of not fitting in. But it’s weird in all the wonderful, positive ways that the Khazan describes. It might not have imagined a book about the challenges of being different h ...more
Sep 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I liked the IDEA of "Weird," but finished the book oddly unsatisfied. The content that WAS in the book was good; I'd just hoped it would be a bit more in-depth and scientific (the fact that Olga Khazan is a science writer makes this feeling doubly ironic). The author does a good job framing her own feelings of "weirdness" and isolation (growing up as an atheist Russian immigrant in a West-Texas town could have that effect on you). Khazan also finds several other "weirdos" to interview who have f ...more
Jeff McMullen
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wish I could say I enjoyed this book as I found it well written, but the author was so judgmental against everything and everyone that isn't liberal that it made me wish I hadn't read it. It became crystal clear throughout the book that the ostracism the author feels has more to do with her own attitude than the attitude of others. She generalizes attitudes to populations worse than any bigot I've ever met. I would wager that her alienation has far less to do with nationality or religion than ...more
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Do you feel different from most people? Anxious about it? Feel like an imposter? Khazan shows how such feelings can be a burden and an opportunity. Building on her own experience as a Russian immigrant growing up in West Texas, she brings in stories of others: a woman race car driver, a survivor of the Jonestown massacre, a missionary in Bulgaria, and various norms breakers/trend setters including a trans local government official from a rural town, a single mother, a plus sized fashion designer ...more
Cozy Cat Reviews
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Are you a non conformist ? A person who has been bullied all your life for not "conforming" to what others false ideal of normal is ? Have you been called "weird" as a slur throughout your life for having special gifts, being more intelligent then others and having talents that others are jealous of ? Then this book is for you , for all of us that have been abused in society for being true to ourselves and our gifts. Thank you to the author for this wonderful body of work.

Thank you to the publis
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
This is an enjoyable book about people who are somehow outsiders or "other." The author presents some of her own life story, as a Russian immigrant who grows up in a small town in west Texas, and about how being "weird" has impacted her; additionally, she has several interviews (or case study-type stories) about a variety of people who have been viewed or perceived as weird because they are different.

She presents a lot of positive spin on being weird: "It's good to be a weirdo. Being different
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)
  • Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain
  • The Water Dancer
  • Big Lies in a Small Town
  • Ghosted
  • The Huntress
  • Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers, and Create Success on Your Own Terms
  • Together: Why Social Connection Holds the Key to Better Health, Higher Performance, and Greater Happiness
  • House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1)
  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice
  • The Holdout
  • Followers
  • Breathing for Confidence: Your Voice, Your Superpower
  • Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered, #2)
  • The Art of Showing Up: How to Be There for Yourself and Your People
  • Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions
  • Fan Mail (An Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense Book 2)
See similar books…
See top shelves…

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
21 likes · 3 comments
“But the kinds of stories you tell yourself matter. There are narratives about yourself in which your life can still get better, and there are those in which it will keep getting worse.” 0 likes
“It can be hard to visualize “weird.” 0 likes
More quotes…