It’s here! Lost In Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life is newly published by Princeton University Press. In it I defend intellectual activity–reading, thinking, studying, pondering–as worthwhile for its own sake, and as a key part of human happiness. You can order it at the Press, with free shipping (code: FREEF). Or, order it from Barnes and Noble or find it at your preferred bookstore.


“Minds stocked only with opinions”, Charles McNamara, Commonweal.

“The life of the mind”, Jonathan Marks, Wall St Journal.

“Surviving solitude: Why is quarantine reading so difficult?”, Elayne Allen, The American Interest.

“In dispiriting times, it helps to get ‘Lost In Thought'”, James Lang, Chronicle of Higher Education.

A Trialogue at The Public Discourse:

The Beautiful Uselessness of Learning, Nathaniel Peters

Two Cheers for Politics, Steven T. McGuire

I respond to my critics (including Marks, Duncan, and Seaton, as well as McGuire and Peters).

“On Hitz’s Lost In Thought, Eric Schliesser at Digressions and Impressions.

“The decline of commitment to intellectual growth”, John Hallwas, The McDonough County Voice

“Cultivating the inner life in the time of COVID”, Flagg Taylor, National Review

“Reader with a cause”, Sophie Duncan, Literary Review.

“The Serious Amateur”, Pavlos Papadopoulos, Athwart.

Law & Liberty Symposium:

Jennifer Frey, “The Monkish Virtues in Times of Crisis”

Paul Seaton, “The Prophetic and the Logos

Jessica Hooten Wilson, “Envisioning A Happy Ending”

The intellectual vocation“, Josh Hochschild, First Things.

The real value of an education”, Jennifer Frey, Classical Learning Test.

Vidas occultas“, Daniel Capó, The Objective (in Spanish / en Español)

Review by Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review

Review at It’s Only Chemo

Review by Glenn Russell at Goodreads

More as they appear …


In defence of bookworms, Tablet (UK) July 11, 2020

“When ‘Academic Solidarity’ is Sophistry”, Chronicle Review, June 2020.

Escape from Quarantine, Ideas, May 2020.

Knowing it all, 1534, May 2020.

How Malcolm X, André Weil, and Antonio Gramsci Learned Their Way To Greatness, Medium, June 2020.

Why Intellectual Work Matters, Modern Age, July 2017.

Freedom and Intellectual Life, First Things, April 2016.


Egalitarianism and academia, with Joseph Keegin at Athwart.

Intellectual life and the current moment, with Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed.

The inner life, manual labor and the universal, with Matt Hanson of ArtsFuse.

Tutors Talk Books, with Les Poling at St. Johns College

What I’ve been reading with Shelf Awareness.

The Page 99 Test with Marshall Zeringue.


Brief outline of the themes of the book with John Miller at the Bookmonger.

A deep dive into the book with Hope J. Leman at the New Books Network.

The hidden pleasures of an intellectual life with Michial Farmer at The Christian Humanist

Can your intellect save you in a pandemic? with London psychiatrist Raj Persaud

Leisure, the mid-life crisis, and major life-choices with Scott Jones at the Give and Take podcast.

The stewardship of the intellectual life with Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, for Thinking in Public.

I reveal my love of combat and fear of nature to Kieran Setiya at Five Questions.

Grad school, contemplation, happiness and suffering with Jennifer Frey at Sacred and Profane Love.

Intellectual friendship, the virtue of seriousness, and Elena Ferrante with Jennifer Frey at Sacred and Profane Love.

The corruption of academia and the specialness of St. John’s College, with Gil Roth on The Virtual Memories Show

The pitfalls of the thirst for justice, via the classic Preston Sturges film Sullivans Travels with Titus Techera at the American Cinema Foundation.

Aristophanes’ Clouds with John Miller at the Great Books podcast.

Madame Bovary with John Miller at the Great Books podcast


Why Leisure is Necessary for Human Beings, for the Thomistic Institute.

The Intellectual Life of the Mother of God, for the Thomistic Institute.

Slides to view as you listen!


“Lost in Thought is a moving declaration of faith in the intellectual act at a time when everything we do seems to conspire against it.”—Alberto Manguel, author of Packing My Library

Lost in Thought recounts the thrilling story of how Zena Hitz overcame the anxiety of uselessness, the fear that immersion in the intellectual life cuts one off from what really matters. What she discovers, for herself and for us, is that what truly matters only emerges in the course of a commitment to think things through to the ground. Indeed, she concludes, ‘If intellectual life is not left to rest in its splendid uselessness, it will never bear its practical fruit.’ An old lesson, but one that must be relearned, especially at times like ours when a passion for social justice is the new idol to which disinterested contemplation is being sacrificed.”—Stanley Fish, author of Think Again

“Read Zena Hitz’s honest, urgent Lost in Thought and recover clarity about why and how intellectual work and teaching should be forms of loving service—responses to the wonder and curiosity that all people bring into this world as they seek to understand. Hitz’s book should rally the spirits of everyone who is dedicated to learning to take up yet more energetically the question of how we can design colleges and universities that we can be proud of without reservation.”Danielle Allen, author of Our Declaration

“A vivid mixture of memoir, philosophical reflection, and stories that range from Einstein to Dorothy Day, Lost in Thought is an inspiring, elegant, and original defense of the intrinsic value of intellectual life—and why it needs to be reclaimed in our colleges and universities.”—Kieran Setiya, author of Midlife: A Philosophical Guide

Promotional video

A short promo film was made for the book long ago. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.