Saturday, December 24, 2011
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
Non-fiction; High School
After reading some of Robbins' previous work, I knew that I would want to give this a read especially with the intriguing title. Although non-fiction works can be difficult (ie boring) for me, I didn't fear that in this case due to my previous experience and interest in the subject matter. As you might deduce from the rating, I was right and I adored this book! It's everything I could want in non-fiction: well-written, gripping, practically like a novel.
We are introduced to seven people, representing different cliques and outlooks on life from across the USA. None of them know each other and outwardly they seem super different: the popular girl, the new girl, the loner, the nerd, etc. But each is dissatisfied with the role of cliques in their lives and at their school. Robbins follows them over the course of a year but she also hands each of them a challenge to see if they can change outsiders' perception of them to more truly reflect how they view themselves.
Besides following those seven personal stories, Robbins also shares psychological studies about how brains work, how to improve school life for the millions of schoolchildren, and examines "popularity" and "outcasthood." Of particular interest was how our brains use classifications to simplify the time spent thinking about other people. It's much easier to see a person once as a freak and to continue to think of them that way instead of spending time to get to know them. It can also take very little to get humans to conform, especially in the developing brains of adolescents. The science behind this was simply presented and easy to understand.
The main thing I take away from this is actually something I feel I can apply to my present day life (although there are things I'll want to keep in mind when I (hopefully) have children). I've often felt myself to be somewhat of a loner on the outskirts, looking at other people's fun including other bloggers as they tweet and share. But I want to be bolder and get more involved as we already share one common interest and probably many more! This is part of my New Year's Resolutions; if you're on Twitter, hopefully we'll be able to interact and have fun together. Otherwise I plan to comment more on blogs and explore more to find new ones (something that I've mostly stopped doing as I've been busy).