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My Education

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  2,909 ratings  ·  474 reviews
An intimately charged novel of desire and disaster from the author of American Woman and A Person of Interest

Regina Gottlieb had been warned about Professor Nicholas Brodeur long before arriving as a graduate student at his prestigious university high on a pastoral hill. He’s said to lie in the dark in his office while undergraduate women read couplets to him. He’s condemn
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 3rd 2013 by Viking
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Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
My Education is a brilliantly written, incomprehensibly boring novel. I use “incomprehensible” not merely as a substitute for “stultifyingly” or “incredibly,” but to convey the mystery of why and how it is so boring. The jacket notes that Choi “teaches at Princeton”), but I’m sure that has absolutely nothing to do with twenty-one year old English grad student Regina’s reverence/awe/unbridled lust for professors, male or female. And hey, everybody lusts after Regina because…let me get back to you ...more
Oliver Schnusenberg
Aug 16, 2013 rated it did not like it
For me, reading this book was absolute torture. I had high hopes, since it was marked fairly highly on EW's list. For me, it was a complete letdown. Here are my major criticisms of the book (for what they are worth):

1) The writing and prose seemed utterly pretentious. Don't just use high-level words because you can, use them because they make sense in a particular setting. The prose is just rambling at times, with paragraphs that stretch over two pages, with seemingly no point.
2) Related to 1),
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Novels about naïve college-aged students who fall into the throes of older, charismatic professors are nothing new; neither are novels about love that veers into obsession. Susan Choi’s latest novel incorporates both these themes, but in a distinctive way, spiced with strong insights into the very nature of love, marriage and forgiveness.

Rather early on in the book, Ms. Choi throws a curve ball at the reader, turning our preconceived notions about what the book will be about on its ear. Everythi
Stephanie Sun
Even better the second time around: it's rare to come across a work of American fiction that is this well put together. It isn't perfect. There is dialogue that no human being would ever say. Choi's sharp yet cartoonish portrayal of the Hallett-Brodeurs' Latina nanny borders at times on the dehumanizing. But I love these characters, I love this story and its beautiful little symmetries, and I love Choi's confidently measured prose.


August 3, 2013 Review:

"A firm push, on smooth waters. After I'd
Jessica Harlan
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Normally I love the (albeit over-explored) premise of student/teacher affair... it's probably why I picked up this book in the first place. But only a few chapters into the book I was praying it would get better (It didn't, really), and I had to force myself to finish it. Choi's writing is overwrought, in love with the sound of itself, exaggerated and pretentious (I got so sick of references to various obscure writers and philosophers, and Brodeurs' stupid baby carseat, which was always referred ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La diferencia entre lo que cada uno de los amantes quiere y se siente capaz de vivir, complicada con un significativo contraste de edades y situaciones, la ceguera de una de las partes al interpretar, o al aceptar, las pistas que va dejando la otra, y lo poco que solemos reflexionar acerca de las consecuencias que nuestros actos y decisiones puedan tener en el destino de otras personas, confluyen en esta historia de un amor como hay muchos igual que les hizo comprender todo el bien, todo el mal, ...more
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Excessive! I've read her prior books and she's a good author ... but this book is excessive from the word go in both good and bad ways. The prose is rich, complex, and interesting ... but excessively so. The emotional intensity is, surprisingly, sustained during the whole 1992 part of the story, but it is clearly excessive. The sexual scenes are totally excessive. The plot is excessive but hard to put down.

On the other hand, the 2007 part of the book is a total failure IMHO. There is no transiti
Aug 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I think Susan Choi is an excellent writer and I have liked one or two of her other novels, so I was very disappointed in My Education. None of the characters are likable or sympathetic; and the plot, actions, and dialogue seem contrived and unrealistic. Is this book supposed to be 50 Shades of Gray for academics? It was just a little bit too self-involved in the cloistered world of academic self-importance to elicit my general interest.

As a graduate student, Regina wanders around in a cold, drun
Peter Rock
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a great and terrifying novel. I believe it comes out in July, but I got an early copy because Susan’s an old friend of mine. In fact, we had a two-person independent study about our writing when we were college students. And then we hung out all the time when she was a graduate student at Cornell and this novel is loosely based on those years, so it was eerie. More eerie, though, was how amazing Susan’s prose is. No one writes better sentences and keeps them moving, looping, twisting. Wh ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Regina Gottlieb narrates her adult education in a frank, unsentimental style, starting from her first days in graduate school in the early 1990's and ending in middle age--I won't divulge the year, as Choi doesn't either, until she gets there. There are only the two time periods that are magnified; the fill-in years are revealed in retrospect and reference, so that the reader also learns about Regina at a gradual pace. Regina's education here is less academic and more of a sexual and emotional o ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: loathed
So far, this novel is spectacularly bad. Overwritten, barely sensical in its flow, frivolous. Perhaps it's the Ithaca setting that keeps me reading? I'm not sure.
Ayelet Waldman
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was terrific, and terrifically sexy.
Emi Bevacqua
May 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: chick-lit, fiction
This book's graphic artsy-comic cover attracted me, but I hated everything inside it, especially the writing. The story is about Regina Gottlieb, the world's most self-obsessed grad student ever, who in 1992 gets involved with her roommate, while stalking the object of her lusty obsession - an infamous professor who becomes first her mentor and employer and then friend and then cuckolded victim of her adultery and then her lover and then back to being her friend again. The reader is given no rea ...more
Mike Cuthbert
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Susan Choi’s new novel is a chronologically unbalanced by philosophically perfect novel of romance and obsession. Regina goes to college to meet one professor, the shaggy, boyishly handsome and up and coming scholar, Nicholas Brodeur. Brodeur is rumored to be a great romancer of women. Regina finds that to be true but Martha Brodeur is another case. Coming without reputation, the casually unkempt Martha is a beauty and it is soon Martha that Regina is in love with. This develops slowly over the ...more
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was a tiresome read for me. I appreciate Choi's ability to craft a complex and meaningful sentence, but I grew weary of the long, winding prose. I found some of the dialogue so unauthentic and pretentious that it made me laugh. The sex scenes were cringe worthy. Most tiresome were the selfish, self-absorbed, whiney characters. I noticed other reviewers remarked on the growth Regina demonstrated in the final third of the novel. It seems the opposite to me. Regina's last few interactions reve ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Regina Gottlieb is a 21 year old college graduate who knows EVERYTHING! She is just starting her graduate degree program, and has been listening to the gossip about a professor, Nicholas Brodeur. Brodeur has a reputation for being sexist, which somehow makes him so irresistibly sexy that Regina signs up for his class even though she is totally unprepared for it. Regina manages to catch Brodeur's attention, lands a job as his TA, and that's when things get a little out of hand. I know what you're ...more
Michael Backus
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
It's true the writing here often sings, though in a simile heavy style like this, there are inevitably some clunkers that come off more as parodies than functional similes, and way too many places where the reader thinks, "Does this tiny bit of behavior really need a simile for us to understand it?" But Choi can write and I've liked both of her earlier books. But this one, and how do I put it way, I guess, it's just achingly dull. It's minutely observed all right to the point of stup ...more
Megan Gargiulo
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a minor detail that illustrates my larger irritation with this book as a whole. Did anyone else notice that Lucia, the nanny, was supposedly Brazilian but spoke Spanish (she exclaims Dios mío and is later described as pronouncing Joachim "the Spanish way;" hilariously, the actual correct pronunciation of Joachim in Portuguese is described as "the pretentious English way"). It is unfathomable and insulting to me that someone who attended two Ivy League schools (Choi) does not know that th ...more
Ron Charles
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Just when it seems that there’s no room in the class for another novel about college life, a new hand goes up. I won’t run through the whole roster because you already know the upperclassmen — from Richard Russo’s “Straight Man” to Jane Smiley’s “Moo.” Only two years ago, Jeffrey Eugenides brought the form to new heights with “The Marriage Plot,” a brilliant novel about an English major infected by the plots of 19th-century classics. Kingsley Amis’s “Lucky Jim,” of course, still lords it over th ...more
Rebekah Gordon
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm really surprised by how much I liked this book by the end. It should have been insufferable, and was definitely a bummer, but somehow I didn't want it to be over.
Jul 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, general-fiction
Originally posted on Shelf Addiction! Check this and more of my reviews at Shelf Addiction

First and foremost, because I review both Adult and YA, I wanted make very clear this is an 18+ book. Seriously. No minors aloud. If you're under 18, just stop right now...don't even read this review.

This story is full of seriously screwed up people. This themes include obsession, lust, love and loss. I'm going to try my best to keep this cohesive without giving away too much of the story. This book is a cl
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it

Susan Choi's new novel will be known as that steamy book about an affair between two women. Steamy it is, but that is only a part of its allure. The sex writing is extremely good but that is because Susan Choi can write as well as, if not better than, anyone writing novels today.

This book is a campus novel, a love story, a domestic tale, and features male characters who are as deeply complex as the two main female characters. I am trying to sound like a calm and composed reviewer but the truth i
Jul 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Since I read this during a beach vacation, I am a bit more forgiving than I would be at another time.

The story of a laissez faire grad student (a post modernist, who hasn't read anything written before 1990, it seems), who seems to have enough funding to not work too hard (even after she quits grad school) falls in love with her professor's wife. What follows are several erotically charged, detailed chapters of their love making, along with the 21 year olds perceptions about their relationship.
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Regina Gottlieb is no stranger to the rumors about one of her professors, Nicholas Brodeur. Rumors that talk about Nicholas giving himself a hand job to the reading of couplets by his female students or that Nicholas laughed so hard he fell off his chair in the movie theater watching a film about rapist, Roman Polanski.

None of these rumors deter Regina from Nicholas. Not even his pregnant wife. If anything it just makes Regina more interested in him. Things get crazy when Regina gets close to N
Sep 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Ostensibly a tale of the powerful infatuation of a young woman for her college professor and the passion, obsession and ultimately decades long fallout which ensues. There is a major unexpected twist early on in the book, annoyingly, as being written in the first person you expect to understand and predict the protagonist's mind and subsequent dramatic actions.

Coming from left-field as it did, I hadn't built up any empathy or affection for the relationship and was disconnected from this stage o
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My Education by Susan Choi was such an intense and passionate read that I was hesitant to put the book down in order to feed myself and get some sleep.

Regina, our narrator, starts her first year of graduate school feeling very adult. After all, she’s no longer an undergrad. An English major, Regina is forewarned about Professor Nicholas Brodeur’s predilection for young coeds, but is drawn to his charisma the first time she sees him. So much that she signs up for an advanced English class that is
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, queer
I started this book thinking it would be a favorite of mine. I really loved Choi's writing style. But, oh man, this book ended up being insanely boring. I liked how the main character, Regina, would explain how she viewed those she was attracted to, but then once she was able to "obtain" these people it just got long. And I got annoyed at having to read about her alcohol induced vomiting over and over.

I did like Choi's long, drawn out sentences. I felt like I could picture the settings so vividl
Jul 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
I'm not generally good at suspending my disbelief and this book went way beyond my limits. The characters get money thrown at them, as a result of their brilliance, when they're not even trying, when their parents die. They are SO insightful, and can fill each other in on, well, each other and themselves after years and decades apart. They become alcoholic and then cease to be alcoholic without benefit of any kind of recovery. There is not an overweight one among them. And they live happily ever ...more
Sam Fletcher
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Tiring in its pretentious and lofty language until the final 50 pages or so. Choi's protagonist is inauthentic and contrived, disregarding important details of her costars' integrity in favor of a romanticized trounce through queer experience. I found myself disappointed and offended at the way Choi's leading lady painted a minimized version of queer relationships; this is why I don't typically chance books from the new fiction rack. Partial redemption in the end - at least the brat grows up a b ...more
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Essentially a harlequin romance dressed up in an MFA-writing style. Meh.
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Susan Choi was born in South Bend, Indiana and was raised there and in Houston, Texas. She studied literature at Yale and writing at Cornell, and worked for several years as a fact-checker for The New Yorker.

Her first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction, and her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize.

With David Remnick sh
“I didn't grasp that desire and duty could rival each other, least of all that they most often did.” 5 likes
“So perhaps it was her grief I felt as I gazed on this child not mine, and not even much of a child anymore. Grief not for him, nor for Martha exactly, but for all my lost selves, which I liked to imagine were still somehow there, waiting for my return. But those selves were long gone. I would never be younger again. This was so simple it went without saying, but unsaid, one could try to forget it.” 3 likes
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