A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work: Book Summary, 9 Key Lessons and Review

a student's guide to intellectual work
TitleA Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work 
AuthorJean Guitton
PublisherUniversity of Notre Dame Press
Rating★★★★★ (5 stars)

A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work  is a book that teaches the reader to study better, as well as to maintain the habit of writing constantly.

This book is very important for all those who want to take their study life to the next step. To read other book summaries, just click here!

What is the Synopsis of A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work?

The book A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work is a true gem of scholarship.

In this book, Jean Guitton teaches various techniques for taking notes, saving your knowledge and choosing your materials. In addition, he teaches ways to exercise the habit of writing.

It’s a very practical book and I’m sure it will help you study and write better. Read other education books here.

Who is the author of A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work?

But after all, is it worth listening to what this author has to say? Let’s get to know a little more about him.

The author of A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work is Jean Guitton, a famous French writer, philosopher and psychologist. His works were so celebrated that he became a member of the French Academy.

That is: it is clear that he has a lot of authority when it comes to studies, precisely because of his great contribution to knowledge. Read “The Intellectual Life” here!

What are Jean Guitton’s books?

The writer Jean Guitton also wrote several other books in various areas of knowledge.

Jean Guitton’s main books are:

  • A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work 
  • The Book of Wisdom and Virtues Rediscovered.
  • Jesus.
  • My Philosophical Testament.
  • God and Science – Towards a Metarealism.

That is: his work is very broad, including many areas of knowledge, especially in philosophy and theology.

What are Jean Guitton’s Quotes?

Jean Guitton main quotes are:

“Look for the truth. Just say what you think you know, shut up about everything else. Express yourself with sincerity and refuse constructions with flourishes. Descend to the pure, the profound, the authentic.”

“If it happens that, once you have found the truth, you have to communicate it, do it in the way that is most in line with your inner truth.”

“Nothing is more moving than a book open on the same page under an attentive gaze, while waiting for the rustle of the unturned page.”

“No trade is more favorable to intellectual thinking than that of weapons, given the alternation of the riskiest undertakings with periods of absolute idleness, the presence of danger, the unpredictable and chance, the diversity of occupations found in it.”

What is the Summary of A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work?

Despite being a small book, it has many lessons. I have tried to summarize them here.

The book shows several important tips to study better, such as the need to meditate on what you read, not go around reading several books without criteria, write your thoughts, make notes and files, as well as maintain a life according to the values ​​learned in the studies.

Thus, we can say that this book is a true guide to having a life consistent with your intellectual life, showing far beyond study techniques.

Therefore, in its pages, Jean Guitton shows some important details, such as having time to meditate on the lessons learned and that we should not study without criteria.

However, anyone who thinks the book lacks practical tips is wrong: in several areas of the book, the author teaches note-taking and memorization techniques that will be very useful.

Finally, the work also teaches how to maintain the habit of writing, and how you can write better through revision techniques and simplification of written material.

To complement this book, read “How to Read a Book” here.

What are the main lessons of A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work?

The main lessons of A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work  are:

1. View your Study as a Job

First of all, the book’s golden lesson is that we should view our intellectual life not just as an activity or hobby, but as a real work.

In this way, we need to have routine, method and consistency in our studies. Otherwise, we will never be able to progress properly.

So the intellectual has his own money-making work and A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work. Although some intellectuals are academics, these are the exceptions.

2. Having Unfavorable Conditions Can Help You

Second, we shouldn’t be sad if we don’t have the ideal conditions to study and write, as this can help us.

Therefore, having less time and conditions can teach us to use our time better and be more responsible, in the same way that having too much time can make us very soft.

3. Study Environment and Time May Vary

Third, understand that the study conditions that work for someone else will not always work for you.

For example, some may be able to concentrate for long hours, and others for short periods of time.

Also, some may prefer a completely silent environment, while others prefer to use background music or livelier environments.

Therefore, you need to look for the conditions that favor you, according to your reality.

4. Give Ideas Time to Mature

In fact: we shouldn’t go around reading a lot of things without attention. We must seek to read things calmly and carefully, so that we can capture their meaning.

In this way, our readings will be much more fruitful and we will be able to put the lessons we learn into practice.

Ultimately, we are able to learn a lot more from our reading, even if we read fewer books while doing so.

5. Always Write and Take Notes

Even though we can learn a lot just by reading books, our learning will be much greater if we can take notes on what we read.

Therefore, we should always write down the main information and underline it on the pages of the books or on separate sheets.

Also, it is very beneficial for our studies to move on to writing down what we are learning. So we can organize our ideas.

6. Choose your books well

In fact: it’s no use reading several books without any criteria for choosing or without any objective of what you want to learn.

In fact, it even helps, but it’s much better to have in mind what objective you want to achieve in your reading.

Therefore, choose your books and the materials you are going to use to study very carefully, because that way you will learn much more.

7. Studying well is not always studying

Even if you study hard, you won’t always be studying well: most of the time, quantity is not the same as quality.

Thus, one hour of attentive study is worth more than several hours of disorderly and disorganized study.

8. Organize your Notes in Files and Documents

Study without method does not yield much fruit, and that is why author Jean Guitton teaches how to make summaries, notes and files.

Thus, he teaches several different methods, such as making small vertical index cards, sorting and organizing notes, and taking notes only after capturing the order of thought.

9. Make Time for Rest

Finally, just as important as having time for your intellectual work is having appropriate time for rest.

In this way, it is possible to accumulate more energy so that, when studying, be able to surrender fully and learn even more.

Therefore, do not study without any kind of rest: know that alternating between moments of activity and passivity is very important.

What are the Negative Points of A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work?

There are two important points you need to know before reading the book. However, none of them prevent reading.

The downsides of A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work are: If you’ve read The Intellectual Life, you’ll notice that a lot is repeated. He is sometimes too specific when talking about notes.

This, of course, does not prevent you from reading the book and taking advantage of the knowledge it has to give you.

What are the Positive Points of A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work?

There are several good points in the book. I tried to separate the main ones.

The strengths of A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work are:

  • It teaches you to take the life of study seriously.
  • Shows applicable techniques.
  • It’s not repetitive.
  • Realistically teaches how to study better.

Therefore, it is very important reading for anyone and everyone who wants to take their study life more seriously.

Is A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work Worth Reading?

With all this discussion comes the final question: is the book worth reading or not?

A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work is well worth reading. If you want to have a serious and productive life of studies, you must read this wonderful work by Jean Guitton. In addition, the book gives several tips on how you can write and revise your material, becoming a much better writer.

If you are interested in purchasing A Student’s Guide to Intellectual Work, it is worth checking!

Vítor Costa

PhD in Polymer Science and Technology. Loves to read and study about sciences, psychology, philosophy and other subjects.

Readers also like