Stuck: Why We Can't (or Won't) Move On

Stuck: Why We Can't (or Won't) Move On

1.5 6
by Anneli Rufus

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"The brilliant mind behind Party of One examines the striking social trend: people are stuck and they want to change, but..." (San Francisco Chronicle)

In this book, Anneli Rufus identifies an intriguing aspect of our culture: Many of us are stuck. Be it in the wrong relationship, career, or town, or just with bad habits we can't


"The brilliant mind behind Party of One examines the striking social trend: people are stuck and they want to change, but..." (San Francisco Chronicle)

In this book, Anneli Rufus identifies an intriguing aspect of our culture: Many of us are stuck. Be it in the wrong relationship, career, or town, or just with bad habits we can't seem to quit, we even say we want to make a change, but . . . Merging interviews, personal anecdotes, and cultural criticism, Stuck is a wise and passionate exploration of the dreams we hold dearest for ourselves-and the road to actually achieving them.

When faced with the possibility of change, our minds can play tricks on us. We tell ourselves: I can't make it. Or, It's not worth the effort. How is it that in a time of unprecedented freedom and opportunity, so many of us feel utterly powerless and unsure? In this book, Rufus exposes a complex network of causes for our immobilization- from fear and denial to powerful messages in popular culture or mass media that conspire to convince us that we're helpless in the face of our cravings. But there can be a light at the end of the tunnel: Rufus also tells the stories of people who have managed to become unstuck and of others who, after much reflection, have decided that where they are is best. After all, she writes, "what looks to you like a rut, others might say is true absorption in a topic, a relation­ship, a career, a pursuit, a place. What looks to you like bore­dom, others call commitment. And even contentment."

A brilliant glimpse into what truly motivates-or doesn't motivate-us, Stuck will inspire you to take a look at yourself in an entirely new light.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Rufus (Party of One) investigates why in a time when "no population anywhere has ever been so free... somehow we all feel stuck," sorting various feelings of paralysis into six major categories: we are stuck in the past, stuck in the present, creatures of habit, addicted to trauma, co-dependent and unwilling to find job fulfillment. Almost immediately, the author becomes hopelessly tangled in an entire nation's neuroses that won't conform to neat classifications that are meant to accommodate afflictions as diverse as shellshock, obesity, procrastination, infidelity and being constantly late. Rufus undermines her own points often, because she provides scant evidence to buttress her frequent lament that things just aren't the way they used to be. "It's as if a generation has lost faith in going out to seek their fortunes," she contends, but provides no data to prove that more adult children are living with their parents than in previous generations. The book combines an uneasy mixture of pop psychology and glib analysis. While Rufus's premise is provocative, it remains mired in poor presentation and groundless assertions. (Dec.)

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

Stuck was named by Readers' Digest as one of the Great New Books of January 2009.

"The brilliant mind behind Party of One examines a striking social trend: people are stuck and they want to change, but...."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Astonishingly insightful book. This thought-provoking paperback of cultural criticism covers a lot of territory as Rufus probes the unhappiness of many American citizens who feel trapped, bored, and in a rut. She also takes a look at some of the self-imposed obstacles which keep us imprisoned: denial, fear, obsession, confusion, and delusion."
Spirituality & Practice

Praise for Party of One:

“A founding manifesto for an organization of self-contained people.... A clever and spirited defense.” —Kirkus Reviews


Meet the Author

Anneli Rufus is the critically acclaimed author of four nonfiction books including The Scavengers' Manifesto and Party of One: A Loner's Manifesto. An award-winning journalist and poet, she has written for dozens of publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and Salon. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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Stuck: Why We Can't (or Won't) Move on [With Headphones] 1.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rambling, unfocused diatribe. I made it through one chapter and then sort of skimmed some of the others .. looks like she assembled all of her notes on social ills but couldn't come up with a point. Except maybe that we're all a mess. Whoever edited this book really messed up.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
Initially, I thought this book would be another “self-help” book offering some bit of insight, a new exercise, technique or of gaining strength toward protecting myself from becoming “stuck” as I have found myself on occasion in various situations. What I found within the pages of this work was a reflection upon the reality of being unable to move beyond one’s present situation rather than a scientific, deeply researched treatise on the cause and cure of that particular “malady.” It appears that Ms. Rufus is a very transparent writer. She seems to be speaking from personal reflection when she writes of some of the locations in which one can find her/himself mired. These discussions are more meditations than dissertation and cover six areas in which she feels we humans are more likely to become static.  The first chapter’s focus is being stuck in the past. Nostalgia, fear of the future, even religious thought is reasons for becoming enamored to the place of paralysis in “days of yore.”  Chapter two’s progress steps into the power of being too much in the present. The desire of the 1960’s to “let it be” seems to have become the mantra of those stalled in the present. Instant gratification, access to instant “knowledge” (which is actually access to information, knowledge requires understanding not just facts) via the internet and the inability, or refusal, to work for something lasting is the root that holds people in the grip of Now. “Habits” are the glue holding many from moving onto other endeavors, as examined in chapter three. Evolutionary process and the comfort of sameness is the allure of habit. The dependability of knowing the result of an action without having to ponder if that action is the best way to accomplish a task makes a habit a “habit.” The fourth chapter (Stuck on Trauma) addresses the reality that Americans have developed a self-image of “victimhood.” How the richest nation in history can envision itself, in ANY way, as a victim takes some doing. This concept, that my actions are due to (add event) happened to me, when embraced prevents the “victim” from moving beyond the injury by surrendering their choice to move on. The fifth chapter considers how a species that requires community can become stuck in that same community to the point of losing one’s sense of Self, initiative and their ability to contribute to that community. The final chapter deliberates work and how it is easier to stay in a job that is less than fulfilling rather than do the work of considering what one really wants to do, where one’s gifts lie and what is required to develop those gifts. There is much to ponder and discuss within the pages of found here. Many of the points set forth in this reading well up from a mind that has spent much time in observation – of herself, others, the world and various cultures. Ms. Anneli discusses the effects of religion/faith in some of her musings. Because her understanding of Christianity and Buddhism are not supported by the theology or tenets held by the followers of those paths, the moments she speaks of those disciplines from that point of misunderstanding those traditions caused me to be more critical of the other opinions she sets for in this book. The drawback brought by her misunderstanding of (at least two) ancient Religious traditions is a bump but should not stop the thoughtful reader from obtaining much fodder for reflection from seriously reading this book. 
KTW More than 1 year ago
The title lends itself to a bit of deception. It should have been titled Stories about people who are stuck. Whatever insight might be found from reading this book could easily have been in a Pamphlet or small article.
Jeremy_S More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the authors previous work "Party of One" which talked a great deal about being alone and its historical examples. This work falls short of inspiring. It has many stories of people being stuck, but seems to be a lot more opinion than giving support to back up those opinions. The organization was often difficult to follow. Although an easy read, the content just doesn't do much to motivate or inform. Some of the anecdotes were somewhat interesting. Hopefully the author will stay more focused for the next work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All I can say is that I thought the picture on the front cover was ingenious...other than that, I found the writing style difficult to follow and the material extremely uninformative. In my opinion, the author rambled way too much about issues that meant nothing to the subject matter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Attracted by the title, which sounded like something Malcolm Gladwell might've chosen, I expected a sociological analysis of why people get into a rut and can't find a way back out. Instead, the book is part personal tell-all, part attempted hip cynicism, and part rambling monologue. The writing style would suit itself to fiction, but this book left me no better informed and no more thoughtful about anything other than why I'd wasted my time finishing it. Spend your hard-earned dollars elsewhere.