Pleasantly Surprised
Three Action Thursday

Pleasantly Surprised

Education, Tara WestoverI am typically skeptical when someone tells me I should read a memoir about a 30-something-year-old person. How much life can one really live in that time and have it warrant a memoir?! Well, I am happy to admit to being wrong. I judged the book by the proverbial cover and now I’m going to share with you one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2019: Tara Westover’s Educated.

For those who need the social proof before committing to something: according to The New York Times, Educated was one of the 10 Best Books of 2018, and according to Time Magazine, Tara Westover is one of the 100 most influential people of 2019.

Westover’s book chronicles her life, describing how she overcame her unique and challenging upbringing to rise to the levels of education that she has. Westover was raised by survivalist Mormon parents at the base of a mountain in Idaho. She graduated from BYU without ever attending “a real school”, and she subsequently earned a Master’s from the University of Cambridge at Trinity College, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University in 2010. She then returned to Trinity, where she earned a doctorate in intellectual history in 2014. Although her education accomplishments are impressive, her truly amazing story stems from her upbringing which was fraught with hard labor, familial abuse, extremist echo chambering, and poor mental health.

Not only is the book riveting and well-written, but from a Three Action Thursday perspective the book oozes familiar themes such as growth mindset, financial planning, and building authentic relationships. There are so many angles to this book that I think make it a universal read. You can take it purely from the story perspective: a girl overcoming the challenging circumstances into which she was born. You can take it from the education point of view: the dichotomy of the poor and rural who are often less educated compared to their urban peers. You can read the book through a religious lens, a socio-economic status point of view, an exploration of feminism, or even just from a pure family dynamics perspective.


  1. Read the book. If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed it. I binged (listened to it) over the course of three days.
  2. Once finished, what topic struck you the most? Her story, the education portion, religion, family dynamics?
  3. No interest in the book?  At least listen to Tara’s interview with Oprah and let me know what you think.**

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