The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School [NOOK Book]

Overview

In a smart, entertaining, reassuring book that reads like fiction, Alexandra Robbins manages to cross Gossip Girl with Freaks and Geeks and explain the fascinating psychology and science behind popularity and outcasthood. She reveals that the things that set students apart in high school are the things that help them stand out later in life.

Robbins follows seven real people...
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The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School

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Overview

In a smart, entertaining, reassuring book that reads like fiction, Alexandra Robbins manages to cross Gossip Girl with Freaks and Geeks and explain the fascinating psychology and science behind popularity and outcasthood. She reveals that the things that set students apart in high school are the things that help them stand out later in life.

Robbins follows seven real people grappling with the uncertainties of high school social life, including:
  • The Loner, who has withdrawn from classmates since they persuaded her to unwittingly join her own hate club
  • The Popular Bitch, a cheerleading captain both seduced by and trapped within her clique's perceived prestige
  • The Nerd, whose differences cause students to laugh at him and his mother to needle him for not being "normal"
  • The New Girl, determined to stay positive as classmates harass her for her mannerisms and target her because of her race
  • The Gamer, an underachiever in danger of not graduating, despite his intellect and his yearning to connect with other students
  • The Weird Girl, who battles discrimination and gossipy politics in school but leads a joyous life outside of it
  • The Band Geek, who is alternately branded too serious and too emo, yet annually runs for class president
In the middle of the year, Robbins surprises her subjects with a secret challenge--experiments that force them to change how classmates see them.

Robbins intertwines these narratives--often triumphant, occasionally heartbreaking, and always captivating--with essays exploring subjects like the secrets of popularity, being excluded doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, why outsiders succeed, how schools make the social scene worse--and how to fix it.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth is not just essential reading for students, teachers, parents, and anyone who deals with teenagers, but for all of us, because at some point in our lives we've all been on the outside looking in.

Winner of the 2011 Books for a Better Life Award for Psychology

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

When school lunchroom doors open, hungry students rush in, searching for tables where they wouldn't be outsiders. Of course, in middle school and high school, almost everyone is an outsider: the nerds, the new girls, the band geeks, the loners; even the "popular" cheerleaders. Alexandra Robbins' The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth takes us inside the hallways of real schools to show us how shifting cliques and permanent marginalization affect children. Following individual students over the course of year, she tracks the plight and possibilities of self-confessed nerds, freaks, punks, Goths, and weirdos. Her central message is heartening: Our increasingly homogenized society ultimately needs and welcomes the cafeteria fringe.

Jessica Bruder
Her characters transmit often heart-rending dispatches from the front lines of adolescence.
—The New York Times Book Review
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)
Chicago Sun-Times
"Robbins' breezy writing style allows her to effortlessly wade through compelling psychological data, pop culture trends and interviews with high school students, but her narrative masterstroke lies in the decision to follow seven individuals who exemplify the cafeteria fringe. These "characters" are the heart and soul of the book. It's a pleasure getting to know Blue (The Gamer), Danielle (The Loner), Regan (The Weird Girl), Eli (The Nerd), Noah (The Band Geek), Joy (The New Girl) and Whitney (The Popular Bitch).... Geeks is required reading for anyone who has ever felt left out, dismissed, laughed at, bullied or misunderstood. High schools everywhere would do well to incorporate it into their curriculum and heed the solutions offered. Robbins' ode to the cafeteria fringe will have you laughing, cheering, shocked, a little depressed and at times, fuming. Just like high school."
Petoskey News-Review
A fascinating read, and an important one for parents. I highly recommend this book.
Reading Thru the Night
"I devoured this book... I could continue on and on about this book. But I won't. Because there's so much about it that's a process and I want each and EVERY one of you to process it yourself."
New York Times
"Their stories beautifully demonstrate things we know intrinsically: that being popular is not always the same as being liked, that high school is more rigid and conformist than the military, and that the people who are excluded and bullied for their offbeat passions and refusal to conform are often the ones who are embraced and lauded for those very qualities in college and beyond."
From the Publisher
"Their stories beautifully demonstrate things we know intrinsically: that being popular is not always the same as being liked, that high school is more rigid and conformist than the military, and that the people who are excluded and bullied for their offbeat passions and refusal to conform are often the ones who are embraced and lauded for those very qualities in college and beyond."—New York Times
Library Journal
High school is perhaps one of the toughest social environments American teenagers experience. A student can be considered an outcast for the slightest deviation from the norm set by popular kids, parents, and even teachers. Robbins (The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids) here explores how and why students divide one another into groups. She considers the different groups to which students are assigned by their peers and, shockingly, by teachers and how these labels affect them, and she issues challenges to the seven main subjects of the book (six students and one teacher) to get them out of their comfort zones, out of the "cafeteria fringe," and on to meaningful and rewarding experiences. Robbins follows her subjects for a school year, tracks their progress with her challenges, and shows how the very traits that marginalize students in high school often lead to success after graduation. VERDICT An excellent overview of the complex social environment of high school, told in an accessible and often humorous and touching manner. High school students as well as adults, especially those who are or were part of the "cafeteria fringe," will enjoy this book. Very highly recommended.—Mark Bay, Univ. of the Cumberlands Lib., Williamsburg, KY
Kirkus Reviews

Already known for providing readers a new angle on a familiar subject—e.g., college sororities (Pledged, 2004), obsessive students (The Overachievers, 2006)—Robbins now applies that same incisive inside scoop to the lives of high-schoolers who feel...different.

In schools across the country, thousands of students often feel "trapped, despairing that in today's educational landscape, they either have to conform to the popular crowd's arbitrary standards—forcing them to hide their true selves—or face dismissive treatment that batters relentlessly at their soul." The author introduces what she calls "quirk theory," the idea that outsiders thrive after high school for many of the same reasons that they were misfits in high school. Fully immersing herself in the lives of a wide variety of "outsider" students—including the "band geek," the "artsy indie," the "loner" and the "gamer"—Robbins demonstrates the ways in which their "quirk" is a good thing. This likely won't be news for many readers who have long survived high school, but it's a useful reminder to all of us to discover and encourage the quirks that make certain students exceptional. Robbins offers real hope to adolescents who must realize that "it gets better" is far more than wishful thinking.The author has a gift for writing fact like fiction—she reminds us what it was like to be in high school and helps us relive all the anxiety and angst—and the students and their stories are thoroughly engaging. The author also includes a helpful appendix, "31 Tips for Students, Parents, Teachers, and Schools."

These stories are not just entertaining but important, reminding us to celebrate our quirks and those which we see in others as well.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401303778
  • Publisher: Hachette Books
  • Publication date: 5/3/2011
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 147,749
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Alexandra Robbins
Alexandra Robbins is a former staff member of The New Yorker and the author of two New York Times bestsellers. Her work has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Chicago Tribune, Self, Washington Monthly, Time Digital, Salon, Details, Shape, PC, Tennis Week, and the Journal of Popular Culture. She graduated summa cum laude in 1998 from Yale.
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Read an Excerpt

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

POPULARITY, QUIRK THEORY, AND WHY OUTSIDERS THRIVE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL
By Alexandra Robbins

Hyperion

Copyright © 2011 Alexandra Robbins
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-0202-3


Chapter One

MEET THE CAFETERIA FRINGE

Danielle, Illinois | The Loner

When the bell rang, Danielle slowly gathered her books as the rest of her class scrambled out of the room. She reluctantly made her way into the hall, slinging her green messenger bag—backpacks were too commonplace—over her shoulder.

The hallway was already beginning to empty as people disappeared into classrooms. Students didn't acknowledge Danielle and she didn't acknowledge them. She walked with her head down, slouching her five foot ten frame, her dark, shoulder-length hair shielding her face.

Stone Mill High, a large public school in a middle-class, racially diverse Chicago suburb, had a small cafeteria, which was why its two thousand—plus students were divided into four lunch periods. Usually juniors were allowed to leave the building during lunch, but not on the first day of school. Tomorrow, and probably during the rest of the year, Danielle would avoid the cafeteria altogether.

Danielle wandered the halls for as long as she could, stopping to take a long drink from the water fountain and to pick up a form in the main office. Then she tried to walk nonchalantly past the cafeteria's floor-to-ceiling glass wall, as if she just happened to be passing by. She could see students arranged predictably throughout the room. In front of the window sat the lucky students who had sprinted to the cafeteria to grab the small tables so they wouldn't have to sit at larger ones with students outside of their social circles. Behind them, underclassmen sat in rows of long tables. Goths, emos, and scene kids flanked the left side of the room, closest to the lunch detention area. Preppy popular students claimed the far corner of the cafeteria.

She scanned the room, searching ideally for any acquaintance at the end of a row whom she could join without intruding in the middle of a group. She couldn't find a single person she liked. On the bright side, she also didn't see Tabitha, the person she liked least at school, who would have been sitting among the preps.

The cafeteria had not been kind to Danielle in the past. She didn't think much anymore about the flick flick of projectile Skittles that a handful of "friends" pelted at her after they ousted her from their lunch table in sixth grade. She was still haunted by seventh grade, however. Until that year, Danielle had dressed like the tomboy she was. In seventh grade, she decided to start shopping at the stores other girls chattered about—Hollister, American Eagle—in order to fit in.

Her strategy didn't work. Classmates grew even more hostile toward her. Former friends started a note fight. One girl wrote a message so painful that when Danielle's mother came home from work that day, Danielle was uncharacteristically curled up in a fetal position on her bed. The school summoned the girls' mothers to meetings, and when administrators saw the notes that Danielle had written in retaliation, they penalized both girls by barring them from the middle school honor society.

Meanwhile, half of Danielle's class had joined the "I Hate Dominoes Club," which people discussed in front of her. In a last-ditch effort to conform to the crowd, Danielle let students in her gym class persuade her to join the club too. Only a few moments later, she discovered that "Dominoes" was a pseudonym (she never found out why). The club's real name was the "I Hate Danielle Club." Danielle had joined her own hate club. Her classmates thought this was hilarious. When Danielle underwent dermatological surgery later that semester, the club leader said she hoped Danielle would die from the anesthesia.

On the last day of school, Tabitha, Danielle's supposedly closest friend, passed her a note that said she didn't want to be friends anymore. Danielle told Tabitha it was dumb to end their friendship just because rejecting Danielle was the cool thing to do. That weekend, a group of girls called her from a party to which she hadn't been invited. They crowded around the speakerphone, telling her to stop "threatening" Tabitha. Danielle never forgave her.

Danielle hated reflecting on that year, but not because of the cruelty. She was most chagrined now because she had "joined the group, unaware that it was my own hate club, because I thought that since everyone else was joining, I should too. I wish I hadn't been so stupid in thinking that I needed other people's approval, even when I didn't even like most of them."

Because of that incident, Danielle withdrew, unwilling to trust anyone at school. She stopped talking to most people her age. Outside of school, for the next few years, she hung out only with four other girls: Mona, Paige, Camille, and Nikki, none of whom had many friends besides each other. Danielle liked these girls about 50 percent of the time; they could be funny and they usually got along. But they tended to neglect her such that Danielle often felt like an outcast even within her own tiny group. She stuck with them because they had been friends since kindergarten, even if the only thing they had in common was their past.

Danielle had other acquaintances, but they were "just school friends," because "I don't know how to ask them to hang out, and I suck at doing one-on-one things with people I've never hung out with before," she said.

Danielle turned away from the cafeteria window and meandered down another hallway, attempting to quash her anxiety. If I don't find someone I know, I'm going to end up standing alone at the front of the cafeteria. She hid in the bathroom for a few minutes, washing her hands to kill time, then waited by the sink until she decided to go to the library. On the way, Danielle bumped into Paige's freshman sister and followed her back to the lunchroom. They sat at the last of the underclassman tables at the far right side of the room.

That was how Danielle found herself spending the first lunch period of her junior year sitting silently among a bunch of freshmen she didn't know and, with the exception of her friend's sister, didn't especially like. She left early to spend the rest of the forty-minute lunch in the snaking line of people waiting to see the guidance counselors to change their schedules. It was going to be another long year.

* * *

INTRODUCTION

CAFETERIA FRINGE: People who are not part of or who are excluded from a school's or society's in crowd.

What could motivate kids to be so heart-crushingly cruel that they convince a girl to join her own hate club? In the decade I've spent examining various microcosms of life in U.S. schools—from the multitude of students pressured to succeed in school and sports to the twentysomething products of this educational Rube Goldberg machine—a disturbing pattern has emerged. Young people are trying frantically to force themselves into an unbending mold of expectations, convinced that they live in a two-tiered system in which they are either a resounding success or they have already failed. And the more they try to squeeze themselves into that shrinking, allegedly normative space, the faster the walls close in.

The students outside these walls are the kids who typically are not considered part of the in crowd, the ones who are excluded, blatantly or subtly, from the premier table in the lunchroom. I refer to them as "cafeteria fringe." Whether alone or in groups, these geeks, loners, punks, floaters, nerds, freaks, dorks, gamers, bandies, art kids, theater geeks, choir kids, Goths, weirdos, indies, scenes, emos, skaters, and various types of racial and other minorities are often relegated to subordinate social status simply because they are, or seem to be, even the slightest bit different.

Students alone did not create these boundaries. The No Child Left Behind law, a disproportionate emphasis on SATs, APs, and other standardized tests, and a suffocating homogenization of the U.S. education system have all contributed to a rabidly conformist atmosphere that stifles unique people, ideas, and expression. The methods that schools and government officials claimed would improve America's "progress" are the same methods that hold back the students who are most likely to further that progress.

In precisely the years that we should be embracing differences among students, urging them to pursue their divergent interests at full throttle, we're instead forcing them into a skyline of sameness, muffling their voices, grounding their dreams. The result? As a Midwestern senior told me for my book The Overachievers, high schoolers view life as "a conveyor belt," making monotonous scheduled stops at high school, college, graduate school, and a series of jobs until death. Middle schools in North America have been called "the Bermuda triangle of education." Only 22 percent of U.S. youth socialize with people of another race. U.S. students have some of the highest rates of emotional problems and the most negative views of peer culture among countries surveyed by the World Health Organization.

Too many students are losing hope because of exclusion or bullying that they believe they're doomed to experience for the rest of their lives. It is unacceptable that the system we rely on to develop children into well-adjusted, learned, cultured adults allows drones to dominate and increasingly devalues freethinkers. In 1957, theologian Paul Tillich told a graduating university class, "We hope for nonconformists among you, for your sake, for the sake of the nation, for the sake of humanity." More than half a century later, schools, students, and sometimes parents treat these nonconformists like second-class citizens, squelching that hope. There is too much pressure on children to conform to a narrowing in-crowd image, when we should be nurturing the outsiders who reject that image. In large part, those are the individuals who will turn out to be the kinds of interesting, admired, and inspiring adults who earn respect and attention for their impact on their community or the world.

Or even the celebrisphere. Author J. K. Rowling, who has described herself as "a squat, bespectacled child who lived mostly in books and daydreams," was bullied in school because she was different. Her heroic wizards and witches, who have entranced millions of readers worldwide, "are plainly outcasts and comfortable with being so," she has said. "Nothing is more unnerving to the truly conventional than the unashamed misfit!"

Musician Bruce Springsteen was so unpopular in high school that, "other people didn't even know I was there," he has said. He started a band because "I was on the outside looking in."

Television host Tim Gunn, who identified himself as "a classic nerd" in school, was "crazy about making things: I was addicted to my Lincoln Logs, Erector Set, and especially my Legos," he has said. "Between my stutter and my fetishizing of Lego textures, I was taunted and teased." Now Gunn is a fashion world icon precisely because of his eye toward "making things"—and his catchphrase, "Make it work," has become famous.

All of these people exemplify what I call quirk theory.

QUIRK THEORY: Many of the differences that cause a student to be excluded in school are the same 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.

Quirk theory suggests that popularity in school is not a key to success and satisfaction in adulthood. Conventional notions of popularity are wrong. What if popularity is not the same thing as social success? What if students who are considered outsiders aren't really socially inadequate at all? Being an outsider doesn't necessarily indicate any sort of social failing. We do not view a tuba player as musically challenged if he cannot play the violin. He's just a different kind of musician. A sprinter is still considered an athlete even if she can't play basketball. She's a different kind of athlete. Rather than view the cafeteria fringe as less socially successful than the popular crowd, we could simply accept that they are a different kind of social.

To investigate the cause and consequence of the gut-wrenching social landscape that characterizes too many schools, I followed seven "main characters"—real people—for a year and interviewed hundreds of other students, teachers, and counselors individually and in groups. I talked with students from public schools, private schools, technical schools, schools for the arts, boarding schools, college prep academies, inner city schools, small rural schools, and suburban schools. They have more in common than they know.

While for previous books, I acted merely as an observer, narrating stories as they happened, with this book I crossed a line. In the middle of the school year, I surprised my main characters by issuing them a challenge that dared them to step outside of their comfort zone. If successful, I hoped these experiments could bring them closer to the school experience they genuinely wanted.

To understand why the cafeteria fringe will be much better off after leaving the school setting, it helps to know how they become outcasts in the first place. Throughout the following chapters, I explain in what I hope is entertaining prose the psychology and science behind questions such as: "Why are popular people mean?", "Why is seventh grade the worst?", "Why are outsiders better off after school?", "Why do social labels stick?", "Why can't groups get along?", "Is popularity worth it?", and "How can we improve the school experience?" To explain these student group dynamics, I spoke to experts and reviewed hundreds of articles and books on psychology, sociology, anthropology, and other sciences. Much of what I learned was unexpected.

Slip with me a few tiers down below the in crowd—below the cliques that include people who say, as one popular girl told me, "I'm not friends with losers"—into a world of students who are overlooked, disparaged, or completely dismissed. Descend to the plane where beneath the gridded, rigid hallways of robotic social hierarchy runs a parallel labyrinth humming with a current of new ideas, alternative philosophies, and refreshing points of view. Here is where you'll find the people who are brave enough to be true to themselves, where you'll encounter the interesting and innovative minds that eventually will drive the engines of creativity and progress. Peer behind their labels. Immerse yourself in these forgotten corridors to meet the denizens known as the cafeteria fringe.

Mark Laurent (Blue), Hawaii | The Gamer

Mark, better known among students as Blue, was hanging out with his usual friends at the arcade, their typical after-school activity. Well, "hanging out with" wasn't exactly accurate. While the rest of the guys huddled around Street Fighter, Tekken, and Battle Gear (for which Blue held the machine record), Blue was absorbed in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. The others made fun of Blue for playing Tatsunoko, calling it a "button masher" because it involved only four buttons and a joystick. Blue was one of the few people he knew who could "see the beauty in the game." The skill in Tatsunoko was to know when, where, and how to attack your opponent. Choosing combo breaks took precision, rhythm, and imagination. Gaming was an art, really; at least some games were. It just didn't look that way from the outside.

That was one of the reasons why last year, as a junior, Blue founded Arwing, Kaloke High School's first gaming club. He wanted to change people's minds about gaming—and gamers. He wanted to demonstrate that gaming had integrity and valor, that it could be elegant. He had no idea that the results would be disastrous.

At first, Arwing thrived. One hundred seventy people signed up within weeks. Blue, as president, assigned his friends to the remaining officer slots and cajoled them to accompany him to a local senior citizens' home to play Wii Sports with the residents. Blue made posters to advertise the club. One read, GAMING IS MAINSTREAM, GAMERS ARE MAINSTREAM, IT'S THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SURPRISED BY THIS THAT HAVE SUSPECT SOCIAL LIVES.

Quickly Blue's friends grew apathetic toward the club, as they were toward most things. They said they would build the Web site and then didn't. They ruined an event because they didn't hand out the promotional fliers for fear of looking "stupid." One day at the mall, Blue was sitting with his friends when he put his head down on the table and fell asleep. When he woke up ten minutes later, they were gone. Thereafter, Blue's friends started ditching him for fun—at the mall, at school. From their posts on Facebook and Twitter, Blue could see when they went out together, intentionally excluding him. He was closest with Jackson, who attended a neighboring school, but even Jackson was less likely to socialize with Blue unless Ty and Stewart were there, if not Herman and his two followers.

Blue tried not to let this treatment faze him. He had become accustomed to social setbacks in middle school after his closest friend, who had nicknamed him Blue after a Pokémon trainer, moved away. Uninterested in the superficial chatter that dominated classmates' typical middle school conversations, Blue turned to technology and other solitary pursuits. He discovered outlets such as speedrunning video games: beating a game as quickly as possible, from beginning to end. (He could beat Portal, a game that took decent players at least two hours to win, in twenty minutes.)

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins Copyright © 2011 by Alexandra Robbins. Excerpted by permission of Hyperion. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue....................1
Chapter 1 Meet the Cafeteria Fringe....................3
Chapter 2 Quirk Theory and the Secret of Popularity....................45
Chapter 3 Why Are Popular People Mean?....................75
Chapter 4 In the Shadow of the Freak Tree....................105
Chapter 5 It's Good to Be the Cafeteria Fringe....................138
Chapter 6 Challenges....................179
Chapter 7 Misperceptions....................208
Chapter 8 A Brief Introduction to Group Psychology....................229
Chapter 9 Why Labels Stick: The Motivations of the Normal Police....................249
Chapter 10 Changing Perceptions....................279
Chapter 11 Two Steps Forward, One Step Back....................307
Chapter 12 Popularity Doesn't Lead to Happiness....................343
Chapter 13 The Rise of the Cafeteria Fringe....................360
Chapter 14 Cafeteria Fringe: Lucky and Free....................394
Endnotes....................399
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 41 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 9, 2012

    Good & important read

    The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth is a compelling and well written novel that details the lives of different stereotypical teenagers through highschool. Labeled outsiders, losers, or geeks, these kids are greatly misunderstood and under appreciated. Alexandra Robbins focuses on seven different people in her novel; a loner, a new girl, a band geek, a gamer, a nerd, a popular girl, and a teacher. The first five characters bring to life the real challenges teenagers like them face in High School, and how far they may go to either become popular or remove themselves from the situation - recent events detail just such a thing. As a real highschool student, I believe Robbins successfully touches the lives of these teens, illustrating their endeavours to survive school. However, the inclusion of a popular girl and teacher are somewhat far from the main plotline and do not clearly fit into this novel, seeming to me like just a way to take up space. They add very little to the overall novel and distract the reader from the main theme. Robbins intended to clarify that both the popular kids face troubles, and so do teachers, but this novel does not call for such a thing. The five 'geeks' alone are very inspiring, Robbins clarifying for the need for individualism and freethinkers, much of what these teenagers are, and to encourage them to stay the way they are and to ensure them that their flaws today will be the desired characteristics of adult life. This novel criticizes the idea of conformity and 'fitting in' many high school students feel, ideas that can only hinder the progression of society and stop great people from appearing. As the title implies, the outcasts of High School may become the leaders of adulthood. Outside of this book, there are many movies and novels that express this same idea of individualism and creativity. I believe Robbins successfully brings this out to the reader, insuring any 'geeks' that it gets better, that High School is only four years of your life. I greatly recommend this book to others, especially those who may feel the same pressures as Robbins shows.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2011

    AWESOME!

    Let's just say... I'm ten-year-old cafeteria fringe. Current label-nerd, may be freak in near future. That said, best book EVER and will provide sustenance to that amazing,awesome,nonconformist,freethinking,creative astonishingness known as THE CAFETERIA FRINGE! P.S. I am extremely mad at the Library Journal for saying, "Out of the cafeteria fringe, and on to meaningful experiences." Excuse me?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! This implies that they a)left the CF and b)could only have those meaningful experiences after "moving on" from being CF. They remained themselves. They remained CF. They remained all those wondrous qualities described above. They just left their comfort zones and extended beyond their labels. Hear that? It's the sound of labels being ripped off. They left comfort zones to have those meaningful experiences,not CFhood. Sorry about that. Rant over.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2011

    Amazing.,

    I highly recommend this book! It gives you a look inside high schools of today and what problems kids are still going through. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this book. Let your geek flag fly!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2013

    I enjoyed this book, though I couldn't relate to "Blue"

    I enjoyed this book, though I couldn't relate to "Blue" and Reagan.  I think being gay is a different issue than geeks and nerds being outcast.  I was glad Whitney was included in the book.  Blue and Reagan should have been replaced with more of your typical geeks who are shunned, like Eli.  The book gives hope to those who aren't smooth enough to get into the popular crowd.  I finally gave up fitting in during my senior year of high school.  I should have done it sooner.  It makes you wonder how a small minority of the best looking students manage to take over the entire school and how are they considered popular when everyone else seems to be disgusted with them?  This book should be required reading for middle school students.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I'm reading this and then the Steve Jobs book (for book club), p

    I'm reading this and then the Steve Jobs book (for book club), pretty appropriate! :)

    I enjoyed the parts where the author was talking about the specific kids she followed, but didn't care for her commentary. I know that added to it and explained further what was going on with the kids, but got boring to me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2012

    Great read!

    “The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive after High School” by Alexandra Robbins is a fantastic read. Robbins fully grasps the concept of cafeteria fringe in the life of six students and a teacher. With a full analysis on each theory, Robbins describes with the utmost detail in explaining the presence of the quirk theory in high school. The novel flows smoothly as if reading a fiction book, as each of the people become characters in which the reader could connect to on a personal level. However, the only minor fault at hand might be within the analysis. Towards the end, Robbins does become slightly repetitive with the explanation, which might lead to the book becoming a slight drag in certain parts. Yet, the fully developed perspective of the people into their lives and the changes they undergo as assigned by the author definitely makes this book worthwhile! Another great view of this book is of the parents of these teenagers and how they affect much of the child’s behavior. This book also brings a slight attention to them at various points at what they are doing wrong and what they could improve on, making it a great read for parents too! Overall, “The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, the Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School” is a must read for teenagers and parents with teenagers. It is easy to follow, easy to understand, and an enjoyable book to read! I highly recommend it to anyone who is part of the cafeteria fringe, struggles to fit in, or pushes aside others. This book has become one of my favorites!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    Not Bad - Recommended for entertainment

    The story, The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, by Alexandra Robbins, was a great read, content wise, but as an actual high school student, some parts greatly confused me. Some of the stereotypes used by Ms. Robbins I have never even heard of and I have no clue who would be considered the queen bee at my high school. In fact, I consider myself lucky that there is no group at my high school that stands out as more popular than another, and that my school is mostly made of artistically or intellectually inclined students. However, it is quite possible that I am just completely oblivious to these stereotypes as I prefer reading and studying to socializing. Some of the content of the novel clarified a lot for me. It answered the question of why I care so much about other people’s opinions. The segment about drug use among high school students really amazed me.
    The only real problem I had with the novel is how it is organized. The book is based upon a study using five students, but halfway through the book, we learn that there are really only four students and the fifth individual is a teacher. The author was trying to show how some adults could act like teenagers, which she did quite nicely, but I then had to question if some of the other test subjects were teachers as well. I became so confused and started to question whether Danielle, one of the test subjects, was also a teacher because she started working with special education students.
    In addition, the book is based off a sort of time line with interjections of information, which makes the book interesting, but it becomes hard to retain the information. Not to mention, the author tends to repeat herself when she cannot render new information. I liked the book and I recommend it, especially if you go to high school or have a high school aged child, but be aware, there are flaws.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    amazing novel appealing to entire high school communities

    When I first read this book, I was expecting it to only have high school students relate to her argument. Instead she immerses the reader in the lives and issues that teachers, parents and students deal with in the high school environment. She follows seven different individuals in one year of high school. She tries to appeal to every type of student in the high school community. She interviewed populars, loners, nerds, and even a discriminated teacher as they face the cruelty high schools can dish out at the individual. Alexandra Robbins uses psychological studies and experiences from students around the country to show that being unpopular in high is not the end of the world. She even gives examples of famous celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Steve Jobs who were treated badly in high school but ended up having great success in doing what they love. This novel boosted my self-esteem and definitely will for other students having social trouble in high school. She proves that the high school environment tries to make everyone conform to some set norm, and can even look down on students who try to show their individuality. But she does not stop there. She criticizes staff and administrators for being a part of the problem as well. Staff members create their own cliques at times and may even give benefits to athletics and popular cliques while taking away from sciences and arts and unpopular kids. She also advises parents on trying to make their own kids “normal” and smash their child’s self confidence in the process. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is a part of a high school community, as in the students, staff, and parents.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2011

    good read, great kids

    I dug the students Robbins followed. I wanted to give them hugs and tell them they were cool.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2011

    Totally sucked me in!

    I could not put this book down! I loved all the characters, especially Danielle and Mark, and thought the essays about popularity especially were just so interesting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2012

    Excellent book!

    I loved this book! As a geek and a bit of a fringe dweller myself in my school years, it was easy to relate to the kids in this book, and hearing from the psychologists and other experts on why certain types of kids tend to behave the way they do and how many of these were able to overcome and change their perspectives was interesting and gave some great insight into my school life and what to expect from students I work with now. The sources were well presented and the concept was clearly defined. An enjoyable book on so many levels!

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    A must read for high school students

    The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School, written by Alexandra Robbins, depicts the lives of six high school students and an ostracized faculty member. The book begins with the author’s “quirk theory,” that popularity does not guarantee success in adulthood and unpopular students will be valued because of their quirks out of the high school setting. The author goes on to explain popularity, conformity, cliques, and student labels that pertain to the individuals she follows in the book. The students she follows in her book include a loner named Danielle, a band geek named Noah, a popular girl named Whitney, a new girl from Jamaica named Joy, a nerd named Eli, and an intense gamer named Blue. Robbins also follows Regan, a young teacher that deals with the same problems student face in high school. Robbins follows these individuals from across the United States for one full year. Right before winter, Robbins imposes a challenge for each of the individuals she follows. For some they must open themselves up to new people while others have to detach themselves from their current group of friends. Will the loner make friends or can the popular girl detach herself from the in-crowd? Read the book to find out. The book concludes with tips to help students in high school, concerned parents, and school administrators. Robbins writes with a sophisticated style and uses a copious amount of scientific experiments to back up her support and explanations. High school students should read this book so they do no feel the need to conform or change what makes them unique and different compared to other students. Robbins wants her audience to realize the importance of staying true to oneself when conforming may seem like the easier choice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!

    This book was one of the best nonfiction books I've read. Not only was it interesting to read, but I also learned many useful things that I have not knew about before. In the beginning, I did not like how each characters were divided into different sections because it made me feel a little confused, but later on it only made me feel like I know each of them and want to continue learning more about them. The challenges each of these characters had helped me learn useful things that can apply to my everyday life and appreciate the difficulties people have. Everyone in high school deals with the type of problems Robbins mentions in the piece, and it's fun to read because it can apply to everyone, even the teachers and parents. We have to admit that without all that high school drama, life would be boring.

    The best thing about the book are the lessons learned, it is all about acting freely and forget about the jealousy and fear. We are all so different from one another, but that's how we learn to love and accept each other. I feel a lot more confident with what I do and like. It made me realize that it's time to stop caring what others think and be friends with everyone. I will try to understand people and reach out to those that need help, and of course stop with the gossip and think positively. However I treat people, that's how they will treat me, even though there is always that someone that thinks differ. One way or another, I hope that many people read this book and do the same, but most of all discover the true meaning of the story. This book definitely deserves a five out of five stars.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    enlightening

    "The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth" by Alexandra Robbins is a truely reviting account of the lives social outcasts in high school. I'm her very anti-conformist centered book, she captures the lives of several high school kids: the nerd, the geek, the popular girl, the new girl, the loner, the gamer, and the weird girl. Throughout her documentary of the teenager's lives, she argues against conformity amongst kids, in order to "fit in". In fact, she points out that the very characteristics we posess that make us different, will become the characteristics that become invaluable in our adult life. The author addresses the exsistance of groups or cliques, making the parts of the cafeteria their territories. She points out that bullying and exclusion have reached an all time high and despite the harm that it is causing our youth, the social norms dwindle even more, making more obvious those considered outcasts. She stresses the need for diversity among the youth and the ability to think for themselves. She even creates a task for each of the people interviewed to push them out of their comfort zone or their interpretation of the social norm, so they can identify with themselves as an individual. She continues to point out that the underlying cause of the conformity among the students is the school system. The children are handed standardized tests that do not adhere to their particular skills, completely ridding them of individualism. The same can be witnessed through the teachers, who do not teach to the rhythmn of the students minds, rather by the speed in order to cover the ciriculum within a certain amount of time. Overall, this is a very eye opening and diverse type of nonfiction book. No matter whether this is your ideal genre of writing or not, it is compelling. I recommend this to everyone, especially high school kids of today because everyone will benefit from the underlying message at hand: high school eventually ends, do not lose yourself in those hellish four years, because it will get better.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    Recommended

    This book is a perfect example on how the school system needs adjustments in America. Alexandra Robbins is funny, and witty in her portrayal of the typical groups in school. This includes the geek, the nerd, the popular girl, the loner, the weird girl, the gamer, and the new girl. Robbins takes the reader on an adventure through each of these children’s lives. This includes the struggle each child has to go through when dealing with high school. Robbins also issues a challenge to each of these high school students that takes them out of their comfort zone, and lets them grown as individuals. Some of these challenges make the children, such as Danielle “the loner” to be able to meet and talk to more kids her own age. Danielle was particularly up to this challenge because she wanted to grow as a person, so she is not so socially awkward when she becomes and adult in the working world. This is just one example of how Robbins helps these children by helping them develop into more sociable people. This will continue with them their entire lives. Robbins also talks about her idea of quirk theory which Robbins says is the observation that many of the differences that lead children to exclude each other socially in school are the same characteristics or skills that other people will value and admire about those students in adulthood or outside school. This theory can be widely acceptable in most schools around the nation, and how administrators are only masking the problem, or creating a bigger problem, and not a solution. Robbins also talks about these solutions to these problems and how simple adjustments to the academic system can make a large improvement on most children’s lives. Robbins also states about how teachers today are just trying to get through the curriculum as fast as possible, and they are not catering to each individual child’s needs. Robbin says the children learn at a different pace, and that teacher just care about the class as a whole. This also has to do with the administrators and how they are only worried about test scores, and having the children conform to what the school believes to be the best for them. When in reality it is not, and the children are suffering because of the negligence of the administrative staff, and the teachers, who are pressured to meet the curriculum requirements. All in all this book takes the reader on an intelligent adventure inside the lives of the typical genre of American high school students.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    Great Book!

    The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School is a great book and it sends a great message. This book deals with the different types of people and groups in high school such as the geeks, nerds, loners, popular kids, and punks. The author, Alexandra Robbins, talks about popularity and different cliques in school. She also writes about different experiments that have been done on popularity and conformity. The author interviewed seven people (Eli, Blue, Noah, Regan, Whitney, Danielle, and Joy). They all attend different high schools and in this book we get to read about these people and their high school experiences. They are all from different cliques in high school and some of them are not part of any cliques. These students all face problems in high school and the author gives them challenges that could help them with these problems. It is interesting to see how they complete these challenges and what happens to them throughout high school. This book talks about how popularity does not make a person happy and it also encourages everyone to embrace their differences and not to conform. It talks about how the qualities that make us so different from other people may be considered “weird” in high school, but in adulthood these qualities help us stand out. The seven people that the author interviewed all had problems in high school and felt that they were very different from others. I think that many people, especially high school students, can relate to this book. This book tells us that we should embrace our differences because they help us stand out later in life. We should not have to change ourselves in order to fit in. This book is very inspiring and I would recommend it to anyone, especially high school students.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    Inspirational

    In her book The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School, author Robbins dives back into fray of high school in order to discover the psychology of high school. In her following of 7 members of the cafeteria fringe, Robbins explores why cliques form, the bravery of non-conformists, as well as the reasoning behind quirk theory. This book has the capacity to change people’s lives by teaching them that being different is not a negative, that the very traits that cause students to be mocked in high school are greatly admired after graduation. Being a high school student myself, this book helped change my everyday world from a hectic gathering of unexplainable occurrences into a logical world where I understand those around me, despite the hated clique system. I recommend this book to everyone from students to teachers and parents, for it teaches us to take the path less travelled and to be true to ourselves. In following members of different cliques, including preps, nerds, loners, as well as using scientific research to support her claims, Robbins helps us remember that despite the labels we place upon ourselves and others in an attempt to categorize life around us, were all special and unique. I believe this book should be added to the curriculum of high schools around the globe to assist our generation in realizing the truly important things in life. I’m sure I speak for other who have read it but choose not to speak their mind when I say that this book is truly inspirational and reminds us all, whether we be a prep, a goth, nerd, or even a loner, that there is life after high school.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2011

    get your geek on!

    First off, I am a HUGE fan of author Alexandra Robbins and had been looking forward to this book for quite awhile now, and she didn't disappoint!

    Like her other books, "The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth" follows a group of students in their day-to-day lives and we the readers are witness to their triumphs and failures. Robbins also fills in the narrative with stories and facts from other high-schools across the United States, as well as some information about schools in Europe, as well. As someone who was "cafeteria fringe" herself when she was in high-school, I have found that Quirk Theory (the idea that the things about you that people made fun of when you were a teenager, are the exact same traits that will make you succeed after graduation) is spot on. It is also an important theory that needs to be discussed openly with teenagers currently in high-school. "Popularity" is subjective and only lasts until graduation, so teenagers need to understand the importance of their other qualities as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2011

    Engaging and Bold!

    I first became aware of Alexandra when I found Secrets of the Tomb. She was great then, she's great now. I have since acquired all of her books as far as I know.

    This book is well put together and the writing is excellent. You can put yourself into the shoes of the person when you're reading. And what is said is definitely needed, to shed light on how things REALLY work. She even steps up and sheds light on the problems of the institutions themselves.

    Kudos Alexandra! Keep up your great work!

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Highly Recommended-I wish I read this when I was in high school.

    Omg. This book had me from the first page. I dealt with this same stuff in high school and I wish I had this book before I conformed. Now, I have to find myself all over again because I just lost myself during the whole process but I definitely learned from it because now I am able to truly appreciate myself.

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