Being Interested In, Oh, Everything — The Gifted Multipotentialite Booknerd

My friend, Jade, came to my home to spend the weekend. It is an annual event. As part of the visit, she asked to return to my town’s fabulous used bookstore. Being an extremely rainforest-minded human, she was happily in her element. I could have left her there for hours, days maybe.

When I saw the pile of books she selected, I couldn’t help but gasp, smile knowingly, sigh, snort, ask the most important question of all: Can I write about you on my blog?

Jade had selected books on a number of wide-ranging topics:

Botanical Art Techniques, The Nile, Pre-Colombian Art, Archtypal Patterns in Poetry, William Blake, Ghost Towns in the West, Mycotopia, The 99% Invisible City, and an Octavia Butler novel.

This is rainforest-minded multipotentialite-ness at its bookiest.

I would have gathered my own set of deliciousness but I had just received a stack from Powells bookstore so I restrained myself. Well, except for the three books Jade mentioned were great for kids. I had said I was looking to see what I might find for my niece and nephew’s young kids. These books by Julia Rothman were so pretty I couldn’t resist.

You know what I’m talking about. Right?

I wrote about it in my last post. How books and therapies can contribute to soothing your existential angst. How books and therapies can help you understand and embrace your beautifully rainforest-y ways and guide you toward your meaningful, authentic life. How it is normal for you to be passionate about learning (not necessarily schooling) which often includes massive, some might say obsessive, amounts of reading and/or research.

In other posts, I have written about multipotentiality. This is the trait that can be misinterpreted as jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none or you-never-finish-anything or why-can’t-you-pick-one-thing-and-stay-with-it-forever or why-don’t-you-have-a-real-job.

Sound familiar?

Jade is a good example of this. She was an art/poetry major in college and graduated with a degree in chemistry. She worked in the chemistry field for a while but then became interested in gifted/2e kids and opened her own micro-school (and is writing a book about it). She closed the school recently and is now developing a tarot reading business on Instagram (you can follow her) along with creating a small literary zine online. In her spare time, she is enrolled in a doctoral program in cognitive diversity where she is an academic advisor. (To find out more from her on education and cognitive diversity, follow her on Twitter.) She has two cats, a husband, a weight lifting hobby, and a burning desire to visit every ghost town in N. America. She is 42. This is just the beginning.

And you? If you are a gifted multipotentialite booknerd like Jade, and, I admit, like me, you are not alone! My advice? Find your local independent bookstore and geek out. Find other passionate readers in your town and join them at a Silent Book Club. Explain to skeptics how your multi-dimensional career paths make total sense and how they will spark your creativity and benefit their nieces and nephews in unexpected ways.

And, if you know of any cool ghost towns anywhere in the world, let me know about them. I will tell Jade.


To my bloggEEs: Are you a book lover? Do you have multipotentiality? Tell us about it. We love hearing from you. And thanks to Jade for sharing so much of herself here and with me in our sweet friendship. Love to you all.

(Note: I have started reading the books I mentioned in my last post. I would definitely recommend the Nicholas book on climate, the Moorjani book on sensitivity, and the Menakem book on racism.)

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

49 responses to “Being Interested In, Oh, Everything — The Gifted Multipotentialite Booknerd”

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  1.  Avatar

    Oh gosh, have you read Barbara Sher’s “Refuse to Choose”? It’s chock full of advice for anyone with multiple interests, especially including how to feel okay about & embrace it ALL. (her word for multipotentialites is “Scanner” and there’s a whole community of us thriving on fb!)

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh yes! I recommend Refuse to Choose in my books and on some posts here. But I forgot that there is an active FB group where you all meet. What is the name of the group on FB? Some here might want to join. Perhaps, you can share this post with them, Anonymous! Thank you for commenting.

  2. dw Avatar

    Thanks Paula! It’s nice to be back 🙂

  3. dw Avatar

    I visited Portland for the first time a few weeks back and had the pleasure of indulging my RFM-multipotentialite-booknerd-dom at Powell’s. What a treasure trove! I had to restrain myself so as not to exceed my luggage allowance 🙂

    However, I can’t resist sharing a random bookshelf snapshot (

    – Argonauts of the Western Pacific (Bronisław Malinowski) [groundbreaking anthro text on the Kula ring, so cool]
    – Red Mars (Kim Stanley Robinson) [imho best science fiction book ever!]
    – Way of the Sufi (Idries Shah) [slowly trying to read all of Idries Shah’s books]
    – Knots and Physics (Louis Kauffman) [a mathematically gorgeous and unexpected intersection]
    – The Icon and the Axe (James Billington) [incredible book on Russian cultural history]
    – Haida Gwaii (ed. Fedje, Mathewes) [archaeology/ecology/anthropology of a beautiful place I one day hope to visit!]
    – A Convergence of Birds (ed. Jonathan Safran Foer) [original writing inspired by one of my favourite artists, Joseph Cornell]
    – A Kayak Full of Ghosts (Lawrence Millman) [extremely weird Inuit/Yupik/Aleut folktales]
    – The Road to Reality (Roger Penrose) [imho best pop sci book ever!]

    I agree with Christina that Vancouver is a great place for the bibliophagic fossicker! Lots of good places to browse. End multipotentialite-booknerd transmission.

    Japan is filled with abandoned towns and structures, called haikyo (廃虚), due to their big 30 year recession. There’s an awesome site about these ( that Jade might like!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Welcome to Oregon, dw! I love this list and photo. (I’m going to forward it to Jade.) Haven’t heard from you in a while. So good to see you here!!

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        And, bibliophagic fossicker?? Wow. Just wow. 🙂

    2. Jade Rivera Avatar
      Jade Rivera

      I wrote down everyone of those books! And YES I have heard of those towns in Japan and recently saw a headline stating that people are moving back to them. I am particularly interested in “THe Icon and the Axe” – I love all things Russian. Have you read Russka? It’s one of my favorites. Red Mars has been recommended to me a gazillion times – you’ve pushed me over the edge to purchase. Speaking of Japan, have you watched “Kwaidan”? My husband and I just finished it – absolutely amazing. It was also a book! I’d love to be friends – do you use Instagram?

  4. Karli Avatar

    Your friend Jade’s book collection sounds intriguing – especially the Ghost Towns. Your friend may like to visit the Yukon, there are scattered ghost towns and abandoned mining railways here – definitely worth visiting for the history but also the magnificent landscape. Yes, I quite enjoy reading a lot, and I haven’t read much since the pandemic but have been trying to get back into reading! I have been reading a lot on Canadian historians Margaret MacMillan and Charlotte Gray – been a real treat so far. Also trying to read some poems and short stories by Bronwen Wallace (if you are keen on poetry you might enjoy her works). Hard to make time for reading with school and work, but I have been trying to read for a half-hour to an hour when I can. I think my favourite book of all time is either East of Eden or the Grapes of Wrath, but some people find the latter bleak, but still enjoyable – love the Californian landscape in the novels.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I will tell Jade, Karli. Is that where you live? Thank you!

      1. Karli Avatar

        No problem. I live in Ontario not too far outside of Toronto. I have not been to the Yukon but some relatives have told me stories about their visit to the Yukon ghost towns. I hope to visit one day, though!

        Your friend may like this book on the Klondike Yukon gold mining — great history book and it does have some photos of the abandoned towns there:

  5. Alice Luka Avatar
    Alice Luka

    I’m a book lover, a poetry writer, have degrees in Web Development and Broadcasting, used to act and debate, love to blog (sometimes multiple times a day), have an interest in Abnormal Psychology, and more.

  6. Jen Merrill Avatar
    Jen Merrill

    This is my dad, a million percent. He’s rarely as happy as when he’s puttering through a bookstore, and his tastes are every bit as eclectic as Jade’s. 🙂

    1. Jade Rivera Avatar
      Jade Rivera


  7. Jade Rivera Avatar
    Jade Rivera

    Thank you so much for including me in your blog, Paula! I’ve been thinking about the “master of none” idea that floats around as a pejorative for multipotentialite people and I’ve come to realize that for most of my interests, I’m about as good as I care to be. I’m in this for my satisfaction and no one else’s – you know? Let’s normalize doing things that bring you happiness at the level in which they continue to *bring* happiness – rather than perform our interests for others to judge as “mastered”. Deal? Love you, Paula!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hey Jade. Good to see you commenting! I was just talking with someone this morning and suggesting to her that, actually, she does achieve a mastery of many of the things she does. The assumption is that she can’t because she does so many different things. But the quality produced by an RFM is often equal to that of someone who is more average and just focused on the one thing. An RFM goes into great depth in many things. And you might also have higher standards than most so you assume what you do should be so much better. The master of none part does not apply. just some more things to think about! That said, happiness is such a worthy goal, makes so much sense. <3

      1. Jade Rivera Avatar
        Jade Rivera

        You make a compelling point, Paula! I actually just went through this at the weight lifting gym yesterday. I’ve backslid a little after an injury and I was complaining about my “inconsistent performance” and my trainer read me the riot act over not honoring my natural athletic ability and the fact that this way of training came to me with unusual ease.

        1. Jade Rivera Avatar
          Jade Rivera

          When I say “riot act” – please know that she was being loving and I’m just dramatic. 😅

          1. Paula Prober Avatar
            Paula Prober

            So this brings up another important topic. If you are used to being excellent quickly at everything you try, will you stay with something where you are not the best or where it doesn’t come easily or where you have to work at it? You are not quite saying this with your comment because you are actually saying that you do have “natural ability” with this, too. But do you see what I’m saying? What if you didn’t have natural ability? Could you persist even if you didn’t excel? Even if you were truly backsliding?

            And, oh yes, many of us rainforest-minded tend toward the dramatic…I was just called that today! It was used as a compliment, though, by a friend. 🙂

            1. Jade Rivera Avatar
              Jade Rivera

              Aw well, luckily I don’t have to find out the answer to those questions. 😝

            2. itssue42 Avatar

              For this RFM, persistence with an endeavor is about curiosity primarily, then interest level. Being naturally good at it doesn’t come into play too much. Often it is satisfying to persist at something you’re not great at. When you master it…. so very satisfying. 🙂
              Of course, then there’s parasailing. Curiosity got me up there ONCE…. that was enough 😀

              1. Paula Prober Avatar
                Paula Prober

                Parasailing?? Yikes!

  8. Amy Katrina Avatar
    Amy Katrina

    I love everything about this. I also have total book stack envy. And maybe a little awe…

  9. Christina Avatar

    I am a regular used bookstore aficionado and Vancouver has an excellent selection of these multiverses to explore. I gravitate to different stores for different books as some seem to be magnets for specific topics. My recent dives have been Space history and NASA history more specifically, WWI and WWII are always somewhere in my dives, Canadian modern architecture, Canadian abstract art, absurdist plays, and First Nations and Indigenous history and perspectives.

    I find it difficult to be focused on one thing at a time, like a hummingbird, I’m always flitting between subjects, usually landing in 3-5 different books every day.

    I teach a program for gifted kids and our theme usually drives a lot of my focus – this year it’s justice and there are so many dimensions that this theme encompasses – it will be a good year for reading and diving.

    I created a 100 book challenge for myself again this year and I’m on Instagram documenting and writing about my reads @100.bookchallenge, @spacey_reader, and @canuckreader – While traditional book clubs aren’t much my thing, I do enjoy chatting with people online about different reads!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Will check you out on Instagram, Christina. Don’t you love hummingbirds??

      1. Christina Barber Avatar
        Christina Barber

        I love them! I love watching them and keep feeders out for them all year. We get Anna’s hummingbirds all year.

  10. ewabs2 Avatar

    yeah books, I got into a fight with my movers last year about having to many books. I already got rid of four boxes of books and I still mis those books.
    sure there where about 30 boxes left, but still. it is a thing, you can never have to many books.
    anyone taking a look at my books will be left confused, that saying “you know someone by the books they read”
    makes me a romance, scifi, history, fairytales, psychology, nature, animal, witchcraft, travel, cooking, art, music, gardening, childrenbook, shakespear, biografy, comics, homer, pottery, humor, loving person.
    ( pretty sure I am missing a few things).

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I love the variety, ewabs2!

  11. M. J. Cuthbertson Avatar
    M. J. Cuthbertson

    It’s a failure of language and the problem that English can mean many different things at the same time. People ask me the title of my favorite book. I usually reply the Lindisfarne Gospels. I understand entirely their question and my answer are at cross purposes. Inevitably they reply, “I’ve never heard of it.” I don’t mind and don’t explain because I’ve never read the book, or held the book, or even seen it in person. Housed in the British library written by Eadfrith to honor St. Cuthbert in the early 700s and considered to be one of the best surviving illuminated manuscripts from the period. Absolutely an RFM answer to the question about my favorite book. Also, a completely true answer because it is my favorite book. Plus, The answer to the question they are asking isn’t one book, but a series of seven. The Griffin and Sabine books by Nick Bantock. Surprisingly few people have heard of them either, and that always just makes me sad.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      The “favorite book” question is often tricky for RFMs. Oh, yes, I know the Griffin and Sabine books and loved them!!

  12.  Avatar

    I laughed hard, reading your Blog, Paula! Felt so much seen :-). Thank you for this –
    I started to bargain with my passionate book lover before buying a book. Putting them into a virtual basket and see if they are still there after a certain time. Where do you keep you books? Or give them away? Once – changing my apartment – I brought some (!) of them to our local Oxfam, and they asked if I would give away my privat library: I didn’t tell them that it was only a smaller part of it 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m happy to get you laughing, Anonymous! 🙂

  13. Sonia Ceacero Avatar
    Sonia Ceacero

    I wish I had 4 lives to develope all my interests… 😀

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I have heard this from many RFMs, Sonia!

  14. carolineb69 Avatar

    Sorry for the weird errors, the automatic corrector is my worst ennemy 😀

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for sharing these titles, carolineb69. Yeah, we all grapple with the auto correct! 🙂

  15. carolineb69 Avatar

    Rainbows of books. They cast a spell on me. X) Mine is the following, sorry for not translation : La vie quotidienne des Grecs au siècle de Périclès, Les sagas islandaises, La peur, Oeuvres compléter de Sénèque, La saga du sorceleurs, 1064 exercices d’échecs, Japonais pour faux débutant…

  16. litebeing Avatar

    Am I a book lover? Well maybe book hoarder would be more accurate. I have more books in my home that space for them and I often am reading a few books at the same time. I miss independent books stores and hope more will crop up in the future. 😉

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      We are lucky here to still have a few independent bookstores. Important to support them. Thanks, Linda!

  17. clignett Avatar

    Oh, the bookstores!! How I love them! They have a magic pull, so soothing and warm. I too come out of bookstores with piles of books. Or at least, I used to. I have to restrain myself from going to a bookstore, as I have not two but three bookcases full of books (from top to bottom, double and triple packed where possible) that I haven’t read yet.. and then I have a bookcase full of books I’m not ready to part with yet.. oh, dear.. 🤦‍♀️
    Currently I’m reading up on dog psychology and behavior. It’s interesting to read and to see it immediately in the behavior of Indie, my beagle. It started because he was (and sometimes still is) so terrified of places, people, smells or anything really, which I just didn’t understand. He just walked past a particular place for example, and on the way back he is scared? Now I can see it’s accumulated along the way and that point is not where he is scared, it’s just the point where his bucket of stress is full and he needs to unload the stress. So now I know what to look for, understand (a bit more of) his signs, and can anticipate before the point of “full bucket”. It’s so beautiful to see!
    Next on the list is a book on the behavior of beagles, in particular the “domestic” bred beagle. With of course side roads to other books, nothing to do with dogs, a photographer’s book (Jimmy Nelson), the last book of the Seven Sisters, and, oh, well, so much more..
    Ah, yes, the “ jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none” AND “you-never-finish-anything” AND “why-can’t-you-pick-one-thing-and-stay-with-it-forever” AND “why-don’t-you-have-a-real-job” remarks.. heard them, thought them through, can’t answer them to “their” satisfaction.. Still, those remarks hurt. They just couldn’t see what I saw (see) and I couldn’t explain it in their words.
    Funny how you can remember the exact words said so long ago.

    Unfortunately I do not know if we have a ghost city or town or even a house here in The Netherlands. There probably are, but if they are real, I wouldn’t know.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Sounds like Indie is lucky to have you, clignett. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Georgia Avatar

    This explains why I build libraries in every home I have built— custom and remodeled, and live in. Instead of the large dining room, turn it into library and media center. Intense book nerd. Intense CEO.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I know, Georgia. Why would anyone need a dining room when they can have a library?! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Sara Cash Avatar
    Sara Cash

    There was a meme a while ago showing someone who helps people get “organized” and “uncluttered”. The caption said “This woman says you should only have 30 books at any one time. I asked, ‘What? On the bedside table?’”😁

  20. Sara Cash Avatar
    Sara Cash

    Because we live on a tight budget, I actually can’t go in used bookstores. I could literally buy every book there! But boy if I ever hit the motherlode… So thank goodness for local libraries and free books online. I can get my fix without breaking the bank. Or robbing one for that matter.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Um…yeah, Sara. Probably not good to break or rob the bank! 🙂

  21. FredB Avatar

    Scanning one in thirty or so of titles on the bookshelf that I can see from the computer:
    Psychological Types – C. J. Jung
    English and American Tool Builders – Joseph Roe
    The Psychology of Everday Things – Donald Norman
    Handbook of Model Rocketry -Stine
    What is the Name of This Book – Smullyan
    Fed Up – Danielle DiMartino Booth
    How the World Was One – Arthur C Clarke
    The Fractal Geometry of Nature – Benoit Mandelbrot
    Samurai – Saburo Sakai (WWII fighter ace)
    Contact – Carl Sagan

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Ooooh. Nice list FredB. Thanks!

  22. Lost Girl In Bookland Avatar
    Lost Girl In Bookland

    Love books, love reading. Wish I could do 5 different careers at once. How do people just decide to do one thing and stick with it?

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Some people prefer staying with one thing. Perhaps it’s their only real interest or it’s the main strength they have or it’s their only opportunity. If you have a RFM, though, you have many many interests and many capabilities so staying with one thing doesn’t make sense. You need to taste/experience many things over your lifetime.

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