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An Interview with Thomas S. Kidd: Reading Habits, Writing Goals, and Putting Down Your Phone

Thomas S. Kidd is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University. He has written many books, including the recently released America’s Religious History and its companion video lecture series, which you can get on DVD or stream on Amazon Prime Video or Vimeo. The videos are also available on MasterLectures, where you can watch the first two lectures free.

We recently sat down with Thomas S. Kidd for an hour-long conversation about his reading, writing, and research habits. Take a look:


  • [0:07] Kidd’s reading habits
  • [2:54] How to read a book professionally
  • [6:35] How to decide what to read next
  • [10:23] How to remember what you read
  • [15:31] How to retrieve what you need from your research when you’re writing
  • [18:47] The books every college or seminary student should read
  • [23:09] Advice on reading difficult books
  • [26:15] The most underrated and underappreciated history book
  • [29:15] The book that would surprise others when they learned it was one of Kidd’s favorites
  • [32:04] The best time of day to write
  • [34:04] How to get started writing each day
  • [35:30] The relationship between writing and editing
  • [38:40] Why Kidd doesn’t outline his writing projects
  • [41:05] Why you should establish a daily writing goal
  • [45:14] Advice for people who struggle to hit their writing goals
  • [47:16] The difference between writing for academic and popular audiences
  • [50:11] Kidd’s favorite book to write
  • [53:59] How to avoid distractions from your phone

You can access Thomas Kidd’s entire 16-part video lecture series on MasterLectures by signing up for a 14-day free trial.

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