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The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School Hardcover – May 3, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Robbins follows her previous book, The Overachievers: The Secret Life of Driven Kids, with this insightful and timely look at the current state of America's teenage wasteland commonly known as "high school." Robbins follows the lives of seven students across the nation with very different and unique personalities—from "the gamer" and "the band geek" to "the popular bitch" and "the new girl"—as well as interviewing hundreds of other students, teachers, and counselors from a range of public, private, urban, rural, technical, college prep, and arts schools to prove what she calls her "Quirk Theory:" that "Many of the differences that cause a student to be excluded in school are the identical traits or real-world skills that others will value, love, respect, or find compelling about that person in adulthood and outside of the school setting." Robbins's keen eye shows us how the eternal adolescent struggle between individuality and inclusion lures many students—and teachers—into a mindless "groupthink" about what is conventionally popular and acceptable behavior. At the same time, she shows how the qualities that set her subjects apart from their classmates are the same qualities that make them stand out in positive ways. She ends with an effective list of tips for parents, teachers, students, and schools on how to support and encourage students who value "original thought and expression." (May)


Insightful and timely...Robbins' keen eye the qualities that set her subjects apart [also] make them stand out in positive ways. She ends with an effective list of tips for parents, teachers, students, and schools. --Publishers Weekly

An excellent overview of the complex social environment of high school, told in an accessible and often humorous and touching manner...Very highly recommended. --Library Journal Starred Review

Offers real hope to adolescents... The author has a gift for writing fact like fiction...and the students and their stories are thoroughly engaging... These stories are not just entertaining but important.
--Kirkus Reviews

A fascinating read, and an important one for parents. I highly recommend this book.
--Petoskey New-Review

Required reading for anyone who has ever felt left out...or misunderstood. Schools everywhere would do well to incorporate it into their curriculum.. Robbins' ode to the cafeteria fringe will have you laughing, cheering, shocked.
--Chicago Sun-Times

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401302025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401302023
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

* Find me on Facebook for new character updates, contests to win free books, to give feedback, etc. *Twitter @AlexndraRobbins

New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Robbins's last book was Goodreads' BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR ("The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth" - also a Books for a Better Life winner).

Robbins was the 2014 recipient of the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism, given by the Medill School of Journalism. She also won the 2014 Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2014 June Roth Award for Medical Journalism, and the 2014 Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Award, the top prize in the Society of Professional Journalists Washington, D.C. Dateline Awards.

Robbins has written for several publications, including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Forbes, and regularly appears in the national media on shows such as "Oprah," "The Today Show," "60 Minutes," "The View," and "The Colbert Report." Robbins frequently lectures about her books and is currently touring. To view topics or book a lecture, please visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Muffy on May 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Let your Geek Flag" fly!!! I have thoroughly enjoyed this book - Alexandra Robbins does an amazing job (as usual)!

I am an educator of 26 years and a high school assistant principal. The information I have gotten from this book has certainly helped me to look at my student population in a totally, new light. Not only does Robbins examine the labels that students assign themselves and others and the harm it causes but "The Geeks" also looks at the way that the faculty that educates them treat students and each other. I had never thought of the way that faculty groups mirror the groups of students.

Also, it was an eye opener to think that the influence of the media has caused "mean girls" to be mean, as a way of protecting themselves. We often misunderstand and think that they mistreat other kids because they enjoy it. The fact is that many of these young ladies don't enjoy it at all but the influence of shows such as "Gossip Girl" and "90210," make it "cool" to be mistreat others. It is hard to believe that many students who are viewed as being a part of the "Popular Crowd" are truly miserable but lack the courage to leave for fear of rejection.

Thanks again to Alexandra Robbins for a fantastic read!!!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie A. Merlin on May 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I can confidently say, with this new book and the others I have read (The Overachievers & Pledged), Alexandra Robbins is one of the first people I know who has poignantly identified and openly discussed struggles in teens and young adults lives. I grew up in a very competitive area academically and socially. I was insecure loner who desperately tried to fit in, but always came up short. I can completely relate to the stories of the teens in this book. Their backgrounds and experiences all have things I'm sure everyone can identify with. Alexandra also does an excellent job of supplementing these stories with psychological and sociological data and experiments. This is an excellent read, and one that I found therapeutic. As an young adult and college student, I definitely have noticed that the quirks and oddities I used to be ashamed of, are things that I'm appreciated for now, and that I fully embrace as an adult. It is these experiences and books like "The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth" that further inspire me to become a high school teacher, and make a difference in teens lives.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I went to two high schools, each for two years. At both, I was not a complete outcast, but hung out by myself and did what I wanted rather than what the conformists were doing in order to make themselves look good. I would say I was mocked pretty heavily in junior high. I've thought it was interesting that at both high schools, kids who were the equivalent of today's "preps" really had not done as much with their lives as kids who stood out on the fringes. It was interesting to attend class reunions and see some of these populars sitting at the tables in their same groups, not knowing what to say to others who had been living interesting lives and had long forgotten how insignificant they felt in high school.

Raising two kids recently out of high school, it surprised me to see how many parents were involved with orchestrating their children's popularity - making sure they drove the right car, plastic surgery if necessary, buying alcohol and holding parties at their houses. I knew it would be painful for my kids, but I am glad they both chose the paths they did - to be true to themselves.

I especially liked the character of the Loner but also Blue. To do as well as he has without parental support, sometimes no support at all, reminds me of a gay friend of mine who grew up in a turbulent household, no support, but always marched to his own drumbeat, and is now the CEO of a major company.

This book validates many things we've observed but didn't know why they were occurring.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ken C. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In her social documentary, Alexandra Robbins plunges into the treacherous waters of high schools across the country to tell the stories of six fringe students and one fringe teacher. She calls them by the labels we've all come to know and sometimes loathe: loner, popular bitch, nerd, new girl, weird girl, gamer, and band geek. What makes the book work is how the reader quickly gets caught up in each of these outsiders' separate soap operas. Robbins is adept at including the characters' thoughts, dialogue, and actions, giving it the feel of a novel splintered into seven sub-plots.

The organization of the book is a bit haphazard, with Robbins going willy-nilly from one character to the next, taking time outs here and there for pop psychology and looks at "studies" new and old. The purpose of this "science" is to show group dynamics and human behavior -- the how and the why to cruelty in school cafeterias and hallways. The arrangement can be discombobulating at times, but the story lines carry the day.

I especially like how Robbins included one teacher's story here to show how cliques and nasty games do NOT always disappear with age. In fact, there are "popular" teachers, too, who would much rather hang out with other popular teachers and ignore the nerdier ones. You'd think these behaviors would look transparently pitiful at the advanced ages of these teachers, but Robbins shows that you'd have to think again. Some people never learn, alas, though, in this book, a lot of the kids do. It is, in that sense and in the final analysis, a hopeful book. You'll find yourself cheering for these guys and girls, who should but probably do not take comfort in the fact that they have odds-on advantages to become successful in life after school -- and for the exact same reasons they were teased and ostracized in school. God loves irony, after all, making the Biblical title especially apt....
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