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696 of 724 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fantastic!
I typically buy 75-100 books a year through Amazon[.com] and spend hours and hours reading reviews before I ultimately make my purchase. When I [got]Bauer's book, I just couldn't put it down. Not only does she lay out in detail the necessary steps in developing an appreciation and understanding for the "Great Books of Civilization" she actually shows you how to do it and...
Published on August 25, 2003 by Gandalf

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75 of 90 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Depends What You're Looking For
I first heard of this book when I read a review on MSNBC many months ago. I looked forward to buying this book amd getting back into the habit of reading classics and generally stopping what I call the 'specialization and dumbing down of the mind' which I'm sure afflicts most of us that have gotten out of school and have so specialized in our chosen fields that we slowly...
Published on August 24, 2004 by JICESQ


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696 of 724 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fantastic!, August 25, 2003
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This review is from: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Hardcover)
I typically buy 75-100 books a year through Amazon[.com] and spend hours and hours reading reviews before I ultimately make my purchase. When I [got]Bauer's book, I just couldn't put it down. Not only does she lay out in detail the necessary steps in developing an appreciation and understanding for the "Great Books of Civilization" she actually shows you how to do it and gives you an abundant of resources to aid you if you need more help. Not since Mortimer Adler's book "How to Read a Book" have I ever come across such a lucid approach to raising one's awareness of the world's greatest writers.

In addition to laying out the groundwork for setting up a self-study program, Bauer provides a detailed approach to each of her recommended readings, from "The Epic of Gilgamesh, c. 2000 B.C. to Elie Wiesel's "All Rivers Run to the Sea", 1995.

A warning however for the "undisciplined mind". Unless you are prepared to commit the necessary time (Bauer recommends 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week) to do some "really serious reading" using a personalized "commonplace book" (which she describes in detail) to record your learnings and critiques -- you are wasting your time. It's akin to losing 25 pounds through disciplined dieting or getting out of debt in 12 months through focused efforts. You either commit yourself to a life-long learning plan to raise your consciousness and self-awarness or simply go back and waste away by watching T.V. and munching on your doritos. The choice is yours.
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355 of 368 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What I never learned in public school, August 21, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Hardcover)
Being a student of the public school system while growing up, I always thought that when you were told to read a book, you read the words on the pages, grasped the gist of the story, and that was that. I got the shock of my life when I hit high school and suddenly the teachers were discussing the symbolism and messages behind what the author wrote. But no one bothered to explain to me HOW to do that. College was a disaster because I had no idea how to do the things my literature professors required.
Now, FINALLY, thanks to this book, I am learning how to read a book and analyze it using the 3 stages of the Trivium (grammar stage, logic stage, rhetoric stage) -- Classical Education. My friend and I are having a ball learing how to do this, taking notes, analyzing things logically, asking questions and discussing the finer points that the author makes.
For anyone who is homeschooling (as my friend and I are), or for anyone who feels like their understanding of fine literature is lacking, this book is wonderful!! I highly recommend it! It has an easily readable style, (not dry as wood chips like some books I have attempted), has a sprinkling of humor here and there, and best of all, it respects that fact that the majority of people who would be reading it are busy adults with PLENTY to do each day, and is therefore not demanding; it only requires 30 min. of reading a day 4 times a week, thus making an allowance for those days that "life" happens to you.
Side note: between my friend and I, the oldest homeschool child we have is approximately 7th grade. Therefore, we did not begin by reading the books that the author recommends. We chose classical literature that was closer to the level that the oldest child was reading and books that we knew we would have our children read on their own at some point. We both plan to use what we learn from this book to help show our own children how to read and evaluate good literature.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, makes sense of the Great Books enterprise..., January 24, 2005
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This review is from: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Hardcover)
I have two graduate degrees, but despite that I've always felt undereducated. I've read quite a few "important books," but they never fit together in my mind into any sort of logical progression. This book has finally made sense of the pattern! Bauer begins with a brief examination of the reading process, and then explains, clearly and intelligently, how five different genres developed, from ancient times up until the present. She also shows how the genres relate to each other. She starts with the novel, from Don Quixote to magic realism, and follows that up with autobiography because (like novelists) autobiographists are telling a story; she then goes on to history (because historians also tell a story, but have a different relationship to the "facts") and finishes up with plays and poetry. Along the way, she defines all the important literary terms you've heard floating around, and slots them neatly into their place. One of the best guides to self education I've read, and one that finally got me back on the path to serious reading. (Incidentally, what is the reviewer talking about below, when he says "the author admits she hasn't read the books"? Totally untrue--no such statement. Ms. Bauer says that she has always had trouble getting through Moby Dick, but apart from that demonstrates a great mastery of the material, and the annotations are amazingly helpful--they highlight the themes of the books and show, briefly, how the terms and developments covered in the "history of the genre" sections play into each.)

Highly recommended for any serious reader.
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101 of 111 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, October 25, 2003
By 
S. Scott (Norfolk, Virginia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Hardcover)
When I found out the Susan Bauer had put this book together for adults, I purchased it immediately. I am quite a fan of her texts for children and of the educational plan she co-write with her mother for homeschoolers. Because of this, I think I expected it "The Well-Educated Mind" to be organized along the same chronological framework.
However, this new reading plan for adults breaks literature into categories: novels, autobiography, history, plays, poetry, etc. and then approaches each category with an annotated list of suggested works to read. While I have no serious complaints about the works chosen (no list will be perfect), I really miss the integration of literature, biography, history, science, etc. as proposed in "The Well-Trained Mind". I have begun reading from the first list of novels in "The Well-Educated Mind", but I am considering delving into the reading lists from the last four years of "The Well-Trained Mind".
If I had to purchase only one of the books, it would definately be the first - the curriculum text for homeschoolers. This book could be tailored for adult reading and is an great curriculum for homeschooling, or as we do, a supplement for a public education.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to get the educated mind that you THOUGHT you had., January 9, 2004
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This review is from: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Hardcover)
I ordered this book for two reasons: First, because I use "The Well-Trained Mind" in homeschooling my children. Second, because I have always harboured the nagging suspicion that I was not as well-read as I thought I was.
Upon reading the book, I came away with the realization that while I was well-read, I was not well-educated. My reading has always been voracious and varied. That is not disputable. However, my approach to books has changed from that of a wino (consuming books) to that of an oenophile (savouring books.)
Along with a couple of willing discussion partners, I am about to embark upon a rhetorical review of many Great Books and I am thrilled. I've read many of these several times over, but I am about to understand them for the first time.
Many people make the "fit body" resolution at the start of the New Year, but how many make the "fit mind" resolution? I challenge you to purchase this book and make a "fit mind" resolution this year! You won't be sorry.
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opening up new horizons, July 9, 2004
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This review is from: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Hardcover)
I thought I was educated before, but this wonderful book taught me new reading skills and whetted my appetite for the classics. Though I went to a good high school and college, I spent most of my time hearing about how "great" the Great Books were, without being much encouraged to sit down and crack one open. The Well-Educated Mind has helped to change that, which is why I disagree with the negative review posted earlier on this page. Maybe we "should" have learned how, why, and what to read in our schools, but many of us were not taught, and the Well-Educated mind aims to fill that gap. For this reason, I would highly recommend it for high-school students or for those about to start college.
The opening section alone, on getting the most out of reading, should be handed out in every local library. Don't miss the chapters on drama and poetry, either: too many people ignore these genres because of their seeming inaccessibility, but here Susan Wise Bauer provides superb keys and useful skills.
Knowledgeable without being a show-off, friendly without dumbing-down, Bauer makes an excellent guide for those who want to enter the "great conversation."
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book in addition to Adler and Van Doren, July 6, 2004
By 
Ray Farmer (Concord, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Hardcover)
The goal of this book is to show how the Great Books can be engaged by applying the methods of classical education to enable more effective reading, analysis, and criticism. I think Bauer did a great job in meeting this task by providing detailed guidelines for tackling five different literary genres (novels, autobiographies, history, drama, and poetry). In addition, she backs up the use of these guidelines by providing short histories that describe the development of each genre and which, as a result, show readers what they should be looking for in each type of work. Finally, reading lists for each genre are provided to enable readers to practice their new skills in grammatical, logical, and rhetorical reading.
Although this book is publicized as being for the "adult reader", I think that Bauer may have attempted to include the homeschooling crowd as well, especially considering that her previous books were aimed toward this latter audience. Consequently, an "adult reader" may find the first four chapters to be a bit patronizing as various issues are discussed, including how to make your own notebook, how to increase your vocabulary, how to set up a time for reading, etc. However, once readers progress into the heart of the book (i.e. the discussion of the five literary genres), I think that they will be willing to forget their previous misgivings and find this to be a very useful guidebook (I did at least).
I believe that the suggestions presented in this book fit very nicely within the solid framework provided by Adler and Van Doren's "How to Read a Book". Adler and Van Doren do an excellent job of explaining why and how one should go about reading the Great Books for understanding. However, their discussion primarily focused on reading nonfictional works, and I felt that the suggestions they provided for reading fiction were a bit insufficient. Consequently, I believe "The Well-Educated Mind" complements Adler and Van Doren very nicely and would heartily recommend that these two books be read in conjunction.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy guide to serious reading, May 22, 2007
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This review is from: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Hardcover)
Many, many years out of college I felt my mind atrophying and decided to start a "serious" reading program, similar to the old "summer reading" that used to be done by high-school and college students. I picked up this book to use as a I guide.

Yes, many of the techniques Susan Wise Bauer talks about in the opening chapters are ones that many readers will have picked up along the way. But even experienced readers may find her suggestions of keeping a "commonplace book" or reading journal helpful and brief background explanations of the various literary genres helpful.

The very structured approach to notekeeping and journaling will probably not sit well with every reader. (I don't plan to follow all of her suggestions myself.) And many people will surely debate about the choices included on the reading lists. But Bauer is very firm about taking a book and making it your own, so disregard suggestions that don't work for you. And as she admits, no one reading list will be considered canonical by everyone. In fact, Bauer encourages the reader to use her lists as a "jumping off" point.

All in all, I think any reader who is serious about reading the great "classics" can find something in this book to help with that process.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful starting point, November 9, 2006
By 
Johannah Snyder (Gainesville, FL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Hardcover)
This book introduced me to a happy medium between how I usually studied a literary text for my undergraduate course work (in painstaking detail that sucked much of the enjoyment out of the book) and the way I used to read the classics for pleasure (haphazardly and without deep understanding). Wise Bauer makes a great case for keeping a reading journal, and gives you great pointers on how to get the most out of that tool. Her approach has proven realistic for me, and so far the reading list has really helped me make sense of what was once a scattered smattering of texts. I particularly enjoy the way she annotates the listings.

This book would be useful for any adult who feels he doesn't read enough. I am getting my masters in teaching English Language Arts to secondary students, and I think it will be helpful to show my students that the careful study of literature is meaningful in the adult world. As a teacher, I would like to add that any parent should look at Wise Bauer's other books on educating your own child. Even parents who don't home school should consider themselves the first and best teachers of their children, and nothing will benefit a student more than having a parent who consistently reinforces the value of education. Learning to read and enjoy important books is the best path to a lifetime of learning beyond school.
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75 of 90 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Depends What You're Looking For, August 24, 2004
By 
JICESQ (Sebring, Florida USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Hardcover)
I first heard of this book when I read a review on MSNBC many months ago. I looked forward to buying this book amd getting back into the habit of reading classics and generally stopping what I call the 'specialization and dumbing down of the mind' which I'm sure afflicts most of us that have gotten out of school and have so specialized in our chosen fields that we slowly become less knowledgeable of most other things outside of that field. Especially disconcerting is the loss of all that extraneous information from college that we no longer use, but would love to be able to talk about.

In any case, I cracked open the book and started reading with great anticipation. Though some sections were good, and the background was enjoyable (for example the development of the novel), the approach seemed to waver between too basic and too regimented. It also seemed a bit of a disconnect to treat almost every genre as separate and distinct, and not make much of an effort to intergrate them.

As I said in my title, it depends what you're looking for. If you're looking for a regiment to bring you back to the classics, much like being in a college survey course, and are willing to stick to it, you'll probably get much enjoyment out of this book. I expected a little more enlightenment and a little less college-course regiment, so it wasn't for me.
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