Can You Be Smart And Not Well Read?

The appeal of being smart is something that we all like. Let’s face it, there’s quite no other feeling like being told you’re smart…

Most people that are deemed to be smart like the Elon Musks of the world are known to be people that spend a lot of time reading.

This notion often times brings about a very interesting discussion. This is because putting a finger on how intelligence is actually manufactured is not always easy because the human brain is vast and so is the world.

One of the more frequently asked questions with regard to being smart that I’ll discuss in this post is;

Can you be smart and not well read?

It’s possible for a person to be smart and not well read because being smart doesn’t always depend on whether a person reads or not. Some people are born smart with the innate ability to exhibit natural intelligence at a high level. Intelligence can also be cultivated through real life experiences which could positively alter the intellect of a person and society would therefore deem them smart.

With that said, Does reading actually make you smarter? FIND OUT HERE

Knowledge acquired outside reading

Ofcourse some people are gifted with high intelligence but are not so well read. Other people on the other hand cultivate and nurture their smarts through reading.

This doesn’t necessarily make one person better than the other. All this basically means is that people can exhibit the same intelligence while having accumulated in very different ways.

Below, I will discuss some ways in which Knowledge is acquired by people that are not necessarily well read or simply do not like to casually read but are still smarter than the average person.

Natural talent

Not all humans are created equal and you’ll come to verify this for yourself as you grow older and meet different people.

Some people are naturally talented and exhibit intelligence as well as smartness without even being well read. These people are usually good at learning and can usually pick up on different things.

Other people draw their intelligence from books which is not a bad thing. The mistake would be to only consider well read people as smart.

Some people running million dollar companies are not even well read. Some may spend a few minutes each day to read a book while others spend most of their time working.

Hence, this leaves little room to actually sit down to read.

People that are naturally able to operate at high levels of intelligence do exist.

With that said, we also need to understand that while reading may be a fun activity for some. It can be unbearable for others.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the reader is more intelligent or smarter than the non-reader. The truth is, the non-reader could be a better naturally talented action taker while the reader could be a great theoretical thinker.

So you can be smart and not be well-read. But this depends on the individual, in THIS POST i discuss some of the effects of not reading. Take some time to read through it.


There’a an old old saying that goes “Experience is the best teacher”… and this statement is spot on true.

Each and every human being on earth has a unique experience of life because we are all different.

With that said, some smart people become that way because of various life experiences. Not all of these people may be naturally gifted with intelligence.

They may simply have experienced a lot in their lives which makes smart.

Life is always teaching us lessons as we live and some people are better at observing what goes on around us, making good judgement and navigating through various situations.

Such kinds of people may be deemed smart by society and often times society may think these people are frequent readers or well read… but this is not true.

Human beings are different and we are species that possess unique abilities.

Some of us rely on the knowledge shared by others through writing. This knowledge then becomes our Knowledge once we process it and understand it.

We wield it at will, carry it and its able to show and manifest itself in our daily lives which then has society deem us smart or intelligent.

For others, life experience is the author and they’re the reader of reality.

Through various experiences, they learn enough things to be smart when the situation calls for it.

Experience is not only in daily life, it may also be in a person’s profession. Sometimes being on the job can teach us more than reading about being on the job.

Audio books

Like I’ve earlier mentioned in this post, not all people find it appealing to read books.

Some people extract their knowledge from audio books.

Being well-read means something completely different in our digital era….  and listening to audio books is not considered reading for most people…

many will agree with that statement because listening to audio books is the same as reading the book…

In my opinion these are two slightly different and separate activities. Reading books is a lot more careful and a person can take their time to study what has been written.

Listening to audio books on other hand is like watching TV. You may be taking in some lessons but the pace of everything is slightly out of your control.

So you basically get what you can get and continue listening so you don’t miss out on anything else.

Some people that are smart and not well-read (in the conventional sense) get their knowledge from audiobooks. This is very common especially for those people that are always on the move and barely have time to settle down and dive into a book.

With that said, we can always count on people to be able to exhibit intelligence and not be well read. Some people may choose audio books over conventional reading as their preferred way to go through books.


Podcasts are another invaluable tool from which people extra knowledge. Podcasting has become so popular.

These days you can find podcasts in almost many areas I.e. fitness, science, spirituality, business, music, food etc..

Being exposed to so many Podcasts could allow a person to wield so much information that would have them categorized as smart by society.

The fact is, not everyone is listening to Podcasts, it takes people that are interested in what exactly is being communicated to the listener.

Some people can genuinely take interest in the conversation surrounding a topic that is of interest to them.

These kinds of people can walk away with so much knowledge that they would wield and carry with them at all times.

This part of this article is explaining various ways people acquire knowledge outside of reading. As you can obviously figure out by now, there are various sources of knowledge and the digital era has made it possible for us to get ahold of information.

Which is why most people find difficult to even read because there’s so much information floating around out there and almost everyone is overwhelmed by it and cannot put a finger on what they should study or read.


Most creators and marketers these days refer to it as YouTube University. They call it this because of the amount of educational content that is available on the platform.

YouTube is a great source of knowledge and most people acquire their expertise on the platform so don’t overlook the importance of YouTube like most people do.

Some of the smartest people in the world that have built companies got ideas from YouTube. So it’s not always about how much you read, it’s more about how much knowledge and information you’re exposed to.

Take for example, Most marketing agencies now are a huge part of the digital creator economy. Not every marketing agency is started by reading a bunch of books or going to marketing school.

Some of these agencies get their ideas from YouTube because there are a lot of marketing guys providing tons of valuable information.

Why are they doing this?

They are doing this to show their experience and expertise to be able to build a following as well as get clients through their YouTube.

It may seem like a far fetched business model, but it works.

It works enough to have thousands of such creators, publishing content each and every day.

Which brings me back to the discussion at hand, some people through YouTube can acquire so much knowledge to make them smarter people and actionable. Not just in their personal life but their professional lives too.

Online courses

Online courses are another source of knowledge and quite an overlooked one at that.

There are a lot of online courses that people take in order to study something really specific that they can use in their day to day lives as well as their professional lives.

Not all online courses are only offered by educational institutions, some are offered by simple guys that did something successfully.

These people then offer up their knowledge for anyone willing to pay for it.

People that create and sell such online courses are in various industries. Which means a person can choose what ever they wish to get into and get a wealth of information from somebody that has succeeded.

Online courses are defining most of the creator economy in today’s world because people have realised the power of experience.

It’s not so much about reading books but about how a person can pursue something and forge their own unique path and be able to teach it to others.

Therefore its easy for a person to seem smart after studying some online courses.

Formal education

Believe it or not formal education has different impacts on people. The same education that creates averagely intelligent people also creates extremely smart people.

The reason for this is both comprehension and the desire to learn more than is taught.

In such situations some people may excel and be smart through a formal education without actually being well-read enough outside of the educational material.

This also depends on the passion that one has toward the actual field they are studying.

With that said, a formal education can create smart people that are not really well-read.


Another way people acquire knowledge and become smart without being well-read is through mentors.

Mentors are people that guide and nurture the talent of specific people in different fields.

People that are well mentored can exhibit smartness due to the fact that they have been taught by people with vast experience in a specific field.

Mentorship creates smart people and offers the support that you cannot get from simply reading books.

You could encounter a difficult book to understand but getting to the author so they explain what they meant could be impossible.

A mentor can be regularly consulted which would make for better understanding.

Smart people that don’t like to read

There are a lot of questions that surround reading and one of the common one I see basically asks if it’s possible for smart people not to like reading.

The fact is, it is possible for smart people not to like reading. Reading is not a hobby enjoyed by every intelligent person. Some smart people actually prefer watching and listening rather than reading.

It’s also good to address that reading is not a prerequisite for being smart so you can’t count on all smart people being people that like to and enjoy reading.

Also, it’s wrong to assume all smart people derive their knowledge from reading because the world offers a lot of various areas from which one can get knowledge.

The High IQ Slow Reader

Often times people ask me whether it’s actually possible for people to have high IQs but be all round slow readers.

The answer yes, it’s possible for a high IQ person to be a slow reader and this is something quite common.

Most slow readers are people that like to digest and process the words so they can actually get what the writer is trying to convey to them.

Ofcourse reading slow may be mistaken for somebody not being intelligent, but that is not true.

Others just like to take their time to read and understand whatever it is their reading.


Are well read people smarter?

Well read people are often smarter because of the information and knowledge they possess from books. While some other people may be equally smart without being well read at all.

Therefore there is a balance. But in most situations well-read people will exhibit a high level of intelligence.

Do all smart people read a lot?

Not everyone smart likes to read. Reading is a habit and a hobby. Which means, it is preferential.

Therefore, not all smart people read a lot, some may spend an hour or simply 30 minutes reading everyday which is more than most people ever read.

With that in mind, i wrote a very interesting article discussing just how much smarter reading a 100 books can actually make you. You can check out that article HERE


Does Reading Make You Smarter? 7 Things to Know – Healthline

Think reading means you’re smart? Think again | CBC Radio

Dyslexia: Some very smart accomplished people cannot read – Science Daily

The Relationship Between Reading Skills and Intelligence – Frontier Sin

Can reading improve your intelligence? Scientists say yes – Florida Prepaid

Does Learning to Read Improve Intelligence? – NCBI

9 Science-Backed Ways Reading Makes Your Smarter – Geediting

Does Reading Books Increase Your IQ? – EnhancingBrain