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Weird summary

Olga Khazan

The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World

3.7 (232 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

"Weird" by Olga Khazan explores how unusual behavior and perspectives can lead to personal and societal benefits. The book challenges conventional thinking and encourages readers to embrace their quirks.

Table of Contents

    Weird
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 6

    Weirdness is a phenomenon that affects us all – whether or not we realize it.

    The first thing you should know is that if you feel weird, you’re not alone. Whether you were bullied in school, or work in a field where most of your colleagues don’t look, sound, or act like you, feeling different is something almost everyone has experienced. 

    And it’s a phenomenon that’s growing, in the US at least. According to the author’s research, 54 percent of Americans have had the feeling that no one knows them very well. 

    But even if you’ve never felt weird, there’s an increasing polarization of American society – and it reflects the fact that lots of us are very uncomfortable when we feel out of place. We don’t talk to our neighbors anymore, and we definitely don’t make friends with people who have different political views. 

    The key message here is: Weirdness is a phenomenon that affects us all – whether or not we realize it. 

    Maybe you recognize that weirdness deserves your attention. But how do you pinpoint when, exactly, something is weird? Some things aren’t so clear-cut; like pornography, weirdness can be hard to define – you know it when you see it. 

    The author, Olga Khazan, is no stranger to feeling like an outsider. When she was a toddler, her parents moved the family from Russia to a small city in West Texas. People there recognized Olga and her family as “weird” right away. Curious Texans would join her father’s Russian language course just to ask questions about Russia. One weathered man came to a session to ask, “Are there horses in Russia?” – and, after learning that indeed there were, never returned.

    In her research, Olga interviewed over three dozen people whom society has labeled nonconformists and weirdos. Each has suffered the consequences of life on the fringes, whether through being physically different, or simply pursuing a career outside the norm. One interviewee, Daniel, is a teacher working in early childhood education – where men make up just 2 percent of employees. Another, Julia, is a female NASCAR driver competing in a sport where a woman has never won a top race.

    But Olga, Daniel, and Julia have all managed to transform their weirdness into their superpower. In these blinks, you’ll learn how they did it – and how you can mimic their success.

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    What is Weird about?

    Weird (2020) takes a look at why some people are perceived as different, and explores how they experience life as outsiders. Through scientific studies and dozens of interviews, author Olga Khazan shows that while weirdness can be incredibly destabilizing, it is also a wonderful asset.

    Weird Review

    Weird (2020) by Olga Khazan is a captivating exploration of the science behind being different and why it can be an advantage. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers fascinating case studies and real-life stories that shed light on the many ways in which being weird can lead to success.
    • By examining the connections between uniqueness and innovation, it challenges conventional wisdom and provides a fresh perspective on embracing our quirks.
    • With its thought-provoking insights and engaging storytelling, it keeps readers hooked, ensuring that it is definitely not a boring read.

    Who should read Weird?

    • People who feel out of place in mainstream society
    • Anyone wondering why the world seems so polarized
    • Those who want to change but don’t know how

    About the Author

    Olga Khazan has written about gender, science, and health for the Atlantic since 2013. She has won several awards for her journalism, including the 2017 National Headliner Award for Magazine Online Writing. Weird is her first book. 

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    Weird FAQs 

    What is the main message of Weird?

    The main message of Weird is that embracing our uniqueness can lead to success and fulfillment.

    How long does it take to read Weird?

    The reading time for Weird varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Weird a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Weird is worth reading as it explores the power and benefits of embracing our differences, offering valuable insights and inspiration.

    Who is the author of Weird?

    The author of Weird is Olga Khazan.

    What to read after Weird?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Weird, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Together by Vivek H. Murthy
    • Get Out of Your Own Way by Dave Hollis
    • Perfectly Confident by Don A. Moore
    • The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • Resilient by Rick Hanson with Forrest Hanson
    • The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
    • Hidden Potential by Adam Grant
    • How Should We Live? by Roman Krznaric
    • Uptime by Laura Mae Martin