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You Must Be Very Intelligent: The PhD Delusion

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  110 ratings  ·  27 reviews
You Must be Very Intelligent is the author's account of studying for a PhD in a modern, successful university. Part-memoir and part-expose, this book is highly entertaining and unusually revealing about the dubious morality and desperate behaviour which underpins competition in twenty-first century academia.

This witty, warts-and-all account of Bodewits years as a PhD stude
Published October 1st 2017 by Springer
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Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an unexpectedly delightful book in its accuracy. It documents the PhD experience in a painfully familiar way. As a humanities grad student myself, I've heard horror stories exactly like this from my friends in the hard sciences, but I've never before seen anyone document them in such a thorough and insightful way. In her best moments, the author is able to capture the intense social tensions and the institutionalized aimlessness of university life. ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Seemed to be a self-serving memoir of a judgemental snob. I don't doubt that the supervisor was an ass and that academia isn't all it's cracked up to be, but she is not alone in moving to a foreign country to be disappointed by her PhD. Some funny moments and kept me reading but ultimately writing this book seemed very self-indulgent therapy for the author. ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Okay, one important thing up front: Although not being a PhD student, neither somebody going to university for a science degree, I found this book highly engaging!

Karin Bodewits’ novel takes the reader on a journey through a three-year-long PhD experience at the University of Edinburgh. I was immediately drawn into a nuanced and well-crafted story that engages with a multitude of themes of PhD life, such as a young scientist’s academic ambitions, personal struggles with friends, family and motiv
Veronika Vazhnik
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Experiences in academia, like in any other occupation, are dictated by the people you interact with: both for your job and friends that surround you. Those interactions are central to Karin Bodewits’ novel “You must be very intelligent”. The book breathes with the pain of real-life experiences, which often leave the reader wondering: has this happened in the real life or is it just fiction? You often hope that the story is not biographic, as then the experience of a PhD study becomes extremely d ...more
Devon Bowser
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-read
What's amazing to me is the way this book seemed to mirror my graduate school experiences despite the differences in discipline, department, university, date and country.

I particularly appreciated the writing style: semi-autobiographical. The book still read as a fictional story, with good pacing and distinct plot points but was obviously based in real experiences/emotions.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
On recently finishing this, I can't help the feeling of disappointment which came along with doing so. Whilst clearly well written and not short of clever turns of phrase, it will likely leave a bad taste in the mouths of those who see or have seen academia as a positive experience in their lives.

It was as if Karin wanted to hate her PhD experience, pretty much as soon as it started. A narrow-minded supervisor who shows favoritism to some of his students, collegial competitiveness, sparse resou
Bart Pander
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Karin enters the world of British accademia filled with false hope, misplaced arrogance, undeserved insecurities, uneducated naiveties , misplaced adoration of scientists and the wish to help humanity by becoming a great scientist herself. She quickly learns what the pressure cooker of modern scientific research does to people and it isn't nice. This setting is perfect for dark humor, silly situations and sarcasm. In the end...lets say Karin learned her lesson. The book is incredibly funny and r ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
You Must be Very Intelligent is a memoir by Karin Bodewits of her time as a biology PhD student. I read this because I saw the first chapter up for free in my twitter feed. I really read it due to a prurient interest because I go am also doing a PhD in the university that she is in, I pass by the building that she worked in every day. There is every chance that my brother or other people I am friends with who did an undergraduate degree in chemistry at the time that she was there had her as a te ...more
Meisen Wong
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-books-read
A funny, well-written, part memoir, part exposé of a doctoral student in Chemistry. It reveals all the brutal, seedy, soul - sucking aspects of postgraduate studies, especially when one is unfortunate enough to have an incompetent, narcissistic, uncaring, plain abusive asshole for supervisor. The author also successfully conveys the precarious futures of postgraduates when stipends and fundings are scarce, and and there are simply not enough jobs to go around. But all the gloom and doom is often ...more
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Smashed it. Funny narrative and I bought into her story.
Joseph Nairn
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued by the title of Dr. Bodewits book and the brief description I read online. I ordered the book as much out of curiosity as anything. What I found as I read was somewhat astonishing. The PhD world she describes is sadly cut throat and back stabbing, and also sadly, somewhat similar to my own first go-round seeking an EdD. As I part-time student I was ignored (mostly) since I could not "spend more time in the library" doing grunt work for the faculty. Karin describes endless, pointl ...more
David Giltner
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Karin’s book is an entertaining and engaging look at the emotional roller-coaster path to becoming a PhD. It is a story of unrealistic career expectations slowly vanquished by a dysfunctional advisor in a competitive environment. It makes great fiction, and is a bit sobering when viewed as perhaps a semi-autobiographical account of the author’s own experience. My own PhD experience was a pretty positive experience overall, so I found myself feeling very lucky as I followed the fictional Karin th ...more
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is a missed opportunity. I enjoyed Karins descriptions of Edinburgh and a lot of what she speaks about will ring true with many PhD students. I’m also glad someone’s taking a stab at ousting the PhD process, and can empathise with her on many occasions throughout the book.

These enjoyable parts however are overcast by Karins shallowness to those she meets along the way. Her persistent descriptions of peoples appearance and her patronising tone about vocations outside of academia is rele
Dec 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
Jun 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biographie
Once in a while, it happens that some time after starting a book, I simply can not get myself to read on. This is one of those books.

In a nutshell, I could not bear anymore how the protagonist (I don't know how much of this is autobiographic, so I rather not write "the author") is behaving. Here we have an extremely negative person who is critical of everyone and everything - she's not funny or witty, just negative. At the same time, she is acting like a jerk herself.

Consider the set-up: The pro
Cheyenne DeBorde
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Clever, interesting, and more importantly, down to earth – this book is a glimpse at the race (or crawl) to the PhD finish line. I picked up this book when I noticed a Goodreads friend of mine reading it, and decided it’d be fun to hear a different perspective. Getting a PhD is very prestigious; it takes a lot of hard work and time. It’s certainly too scary for me! So what’s it like for someone who’s walked the line, achieved the degree, and who’s looked back on all that progress? Worth it? What ...more
Matteo Di giovanni
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I actually enjoyed reading Karin's story. I ready some complaints from people saying "it is not academia", "such things do not happen", "it is unlikely", "se writes about something she only wants to hate", ecc...ecc... but I think that such complaints are basically wrong.

I may agree on the point that Karin's experience may be unlikely. It is rare that all such things may happen all to the same person. But, according to my personal experience and to accounts from people I know, such things happen
Carlotta Micale
When you realize that you are not the only one struggling with your PhD...

An interesting book, about the story of Karin and her PhD delusion. Funny, entertaining, but also a book that all the PhD students and PhD-wannabe should read and enjoy.

Sometimes the attitude of the main character it's a bit too negative from my point of view, but anyway it shows the reality of many of us, struggling with insane academic environments.

Sometimes we are afraid to tell the truth about what an awful experience
Mar 21, 2021 rated it it was ok
This is written as a diary, serving as a therapeutic exercise after a traumatizing and unfortunate PhD experience. As a PhD student myself, I can sympathize and understand the frustrations mentioned, but the storytelling still didn’t invoke any emotion in me. To be sure, this is not a novel; it feels more like eavesdropping on somebody’s life story being told in a random pub. I can appreciate it, but not really learn anything from it.
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: general
I really wanted to like this book. I had even coerced my library into buying a copy. However, it's so focused on the plight of science Ph.Ds that for anyone outside of that realm (such as someone, say, in the humanities), it's hard to relate to a lot of it. ...more
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I very much enjoyed this romp through the academic world. Possibly liked it even more as the sober Dutch humour-veiled cynicism is rather recognisable.

4 stars, if the synopsis enthuses you, you will love it.
Fariz Abdussalam
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Do you want to know the life of PhD student in a nutshell? read this book!
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
It was an OK read. Can't relate as much though. ...more
Michaela Roth
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Very interesting book, especially if one is a PhD student themselves. Lots of "thats me" moments ...more
Anna Noga
Jan 21, 2021 rated it liked it
I have to admit that I listened to the audiobook on Spotify- I didn’t read it.
Marios Gkionis
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am making an effort not to regret that I downloaded it from Springer, through my institutional account, thus providing a +1 to a book that, and I kid you not, contains descriptions of people she encounters in the areas of:

- How "round their ass is"
- If they are cute or not
- How lazy her boyfriend is (whom he goes on criticising for quite a bit about his "lack of ambition", just because he is a bit more laid back. Pretty sure that if she were Einstein's girlfriend, she'd have been judgemental a
rated it liked it
Sep 13, 2020
Wan Farisan
rated it really liked it
Jan 01, 2020
Zeynep Bilsel
rated it it was ok
Aug 29, 2019
rated it liked it
May 13, 2020
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