“What is the opposite of an asshole? It’s the ‘awesome’ person who goes off script in the usual interactions, creating new opportunities for creative expression and social communion. Nick Riggle’s fun book is ‘awesome’ by its own definition. But don’t miss its profound ambition, which is to show how philosophy unearths the structure of ordinary language, defines the meaning of life in routine business, and poses the question of how best to live.”
—Aaron James, author of Assholes: A Theory
“It’s…hard to imagine that anyone else has thought so deeply about the nature of awesomeness: its meaning, its importance, and the ways that true awesomeness is under threat. In On Being Awesome, Riggle offers a careful dissection of the psycho-philosophical categories of sucking…but the book also works as a practical, and surprisingly inspiring, guide to better living.”
—Scientific American Mind
"Nick Riggle's new book is a roadmap to achieving awesomeness."
“A deceptively fun-loving tour of philosophy’s most ancient question: how best to live. Riggle uses modern jargon to apply timeless philosophical truths to today’s problems.”
"...[M]ight be the most entertaining study of linguistics taxonomy in philosophy."
It’s pretty safe to say that Nick Riggle is the only former professional skater who also holds a Ph.D. from New York University’s prestigious philosophy program. It’s also hard to imagine that anyone else has thought so deeply about the nature of awesomeness: its meaning, its importance, and the ways that true awesomeness is under threat. In “On Being Awesome,” Riggle offers a careful dissection of the psycho-philosophical categories of sucking (“killjoy” is fundamentally different from “sucky”). But the book also works as a practical, and surprisingly inspiring, guide to better living. He answered questions from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.
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10 Quotes to Help You Not Suck and Be Awesome, According to an Awesomeness Expert. Nick Riggle's new book is a roadmap to achieving awesomeness.
"...might be the most entertaining study of linguistics taxonomy in philosophy."
"...When we look at awesomeness and coolness in this way, they seem to be social opposites. But a look into our past reveals a striking fact: the origins of awesome lie in the cultural history of cool."
Note on Acknowledgments
Unfortunately, an oversight led to a misprinting of my acknowledgments. They are correct in the audio book, e-book, and future printings. Here they are in full:
Writing this book provided many social openings. Whenever I brought it up—at a party, a dinner, with academic friends—people responded with ideas, examples, insights, and enthusiasm. Thanks to the many friends, colleagues, and copeeps who helped me along. Special thanks to Ross Andersen, Sinan Dogramaci, Daniel Fogal, Ben Jahn, Ed Lake, Stan Parish, Laurie Paul, Jeff Sebo, Erin Thompson, and Clinton Tolley.
Thanks to Amanda Jaquin for helping me design the diagram of awesomeness and suckiness. Her graphic style makes it sing.
Thanks so much to Sara Bershtel, who read a very early draft and introduced me to Mel Flashman. This book would not exist without Mel, who is far more awesome than she thinks.
I’m so lucky that Meg Leder was enthusiastically down to work on this book with me. Her editorial insight and support, along with Shannon Kelly, vastly improved the book. Thanks to the rest of the Penguin Books team for all of their help.
Around the time that I started thinking through these ideas, Aaron James was visiting NYU, where I was lecturing. I asked him if he’d have lunch with me so I could tell him about my nascent project. He agreed and we talked for a solid two hours. Since then he’s been an awesome mentor. Thanks to Aaron for his early encouragement and guidance.
This book was inspired by the many awesome acts and agents in the world—these people give me hope and help me motivate and focus my own efforts to be loving and good. And while I detail several of these people in the book, there’s one who I mention only briefly but whose influence and example is present on nearly every page. That’s my wife Brett Riggle.
Philosophy is a serious activity and it can be really difficult, frustrating, even dispiriting. When it goes well, it can be illuminating, mind-opening, even sublime. But it can also be seriously fun. It can engage us in an attempt to understand our lives together, in a way that brings us together. I’d be happy if this book did little more than remind us of that.