ATG Book of the Week: Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life

by | Sep 7, 2020 | 0 comments

Title: Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life
Author: Zena Hitz
Hardcover: 978-0691178714, $22.95; Kindle Ed.: ASIN : B0824B74F9, $13.77
Imprint: Princeton: Princeton UP, 2020

“In an overloaded, superficial, technological world, in which almost everything and everybody is judged by its usefulness, where can we turn for escape, lasting pleasure, contemplation, or connection to others? While many forms of leisure meet these needs, Zena Hitz writes, few experiences are so fulfilling as the inner life, whether that of a bookworm, an amateur astronomer, a birdwatcher, or someone who takes a deep interest in one of countless other subjects. Drawing on inspiring examples, from Socrates and Augustine to Malcolm X and Elena Ferrante, and from films to Hitz’s own experiences as someone who walked away from elite university life in search of greater fulfillment, Lost in Thought is a passionate and timely reminder that a rich life is a life rich in thought.

Today, when even the humanities are often defended only for their economic or political usefulness, Hitz says our intellectual lives are valuable not despite but because of their practical uselessness. And while anyone can have an intellectual life, she encourages academics in particular to get back in touch with the desire to learn for its own sake, and calls on universities to return to the person-to-person transmission of the habits of mind and heart that bring out the best in us.

Reminding us of who we once were and who we might become, Lost in Thought is a moving account of why renewing our inner lives is fundamental to preserving our humanity.”


“[Lost in Thought] proved a salutary reminder for me, and may for other readers as well, that we should try to make at least a little space . . . for the contemplative learning that drew us into the life of the mind.”—James M. Lang, Chronicle of Higher Eduation

“Everyone who cares about colleges and universities and their place in American life should read it. [Lost in Thought] confronts familiar and abiding questions about intellectual inquiry in an utterly engaging and profound way. . . . [A] wonderful book.”—Flagg Taylor, National Review

“Part autobiography, part defense of impractical intellectualism, and part cultural lament, Lost in Thought forces us to contemplate the ways in which we might salvage thoughtfulness―perhaps not through our universities but in spite of them . . . elegant . . . Hitz’s book is a valuable opportunity.”—Charles McNamara, Commonweal

Lost in Thought [is] an examination of conscience or a manual for discernment for those who care about the intellectual life . . . Lost in Thought is the strongest case for the humanities to appear in years.”—Nathaniel Peters, Public Discourse

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