Summer Reading Program

Summer Reading Program

Illinois Wesleyan University’s Summer Reading Program is designed as an opportunity for incoming students to participate in a shared intellectual conversation about a common text with their Gateway Colloquium classmates and the University community (faculty, staff, alumni and student leaders) during Turning Titan: New Student Orientation

Cover of Educated2019 Book Selection 

Tara Westover

In response to IWU's 2019-2020 intellectual theme of Fact or Fiction and the university’s mission to foster critical thinking and a spirit of inquiry, Educated by Tara Westover was selected for the 2019 Summer Reading Program.

When in life do we learn to challenge long held beliefs and discover truth for ourselves? What things do we learn from our family, society, or urban legend, and how do we discover a truth for ourselves? Are vaccines really a government plot? Where do we learn the truth of history and become informed so that we can learn from its lessons? When and how do individual religious or spiritual beliefs form as people grow? When and how do we decide who we are and who we want to be? How do we determine what in our lives is fact or fiction?

Educated challenges us to understand and reflect upon what it means to be educated. This book is powerful in its ability to help us consider how our experiences inform what we think we know. We can be "book smart" and we can be "street smart" - Tara Westover demonstrates how to make both worlds work together to create a dynamic new world.


Students are expected to purchase and read Educated by Tara Westover over the summer of 2019, as well as answer and reflect upon the guided reading and discussion questions which will be the focus of the small group discussions during Turning Titan: New Student Orientation on Wednesday, August 21, 2019.

Click HERE for the guided reading and discussion questions.

About the Book

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

(Description retrieved from Penguin Random House.)

About the Author

Tara Westover   was born in Idaho in 1986. She received her BA from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.  Educated  is her first book.

(Biography retrieved from Penguin Random House.)