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on May 7, 2015
With "The Well-Educated Mind," Susan Wise Bauer gracefully takes up the torch long held by Mortimer J. Adler, and becomes the modern advocate for purposeful reading.

She gives us her own interpretation of what it means to “read well” and, thankfully, holds our hand a little more than Adler does in "How to Read a Book." You can think of their two works as a pair of college textbooks--Adler’s is for general instruction while Bauer’s contains the detailed steps and procedures use for lab work.

Her book begins with a general overview of the “whats, whys, and hows” of classical education and then subsequent chapters dive into medium-specific analysis--novels, autobiographies, history, drama, and poetry. It’s obviously not an end-all-be-all list of classical education material, but enough to cover the literary bases (as Bauer states, “List making is a dangerous occupation.”)

Within each of those chapters is an outline of questions we should ask ourselves, specific to that medium. Then we’re given a list of recommended books at the end of each section, each book having its own synopsis.

The one notion I disagree with Bauer on is sticking to one medium at a time in order to grasp the chronological flow of work. In my opinion, many of these classics reference stories outside of their own medium, so I personally feel a wider breadth of reading is more beneficial. For example, if you don’t familiarize yourself with the poetic and historical books of the Bible, you’re going to miss references in all sorts of novels and plays.

But I do agree with the overall message put out by Bauer (and Adler): You get out what you put in. It’s slow going at first, sometimes mind-numbingly so, but like anything worth doing, it takes practice. And like anything you practice, the more you work at it, the faster and more natural it becomes (the fact that I’m typing up my notes more regularly is a good example. :) )

Though both Bauer and Adler admit that not all books require the same level of thought, only by working through the various stages of what classical education calls the trivium--grammar, logic, rhetoric--can the reader be sure they’re getting the most out of books that do matter.
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on October 21, 2012
This book is a nice guide for broadening and deepening your reading variety. I used it to push myself into reading items I would have ignored. I like the authors suggestions for keeping notes on your reading. It has helped me not only understand more deeply but allowed me to review parts of the reading I had forgotten by the time I'd finishted the work. I recommend this book for anyone looking to expand and grow.
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on September 24, 2016
I am only just getting into this book and I must say, Mrs. Bauer know's exactly what she is talking about. About to toot my own horn, but I can see that Bauer has her finger on what it takes to not only have a well-educated mind but also a refined one - an invaluable trait that all of us should aspire to embody.
If you are interested in becoming a more refined and enlightened person, this book is for you. If you have zero appreciation for that, then you should go watch an episode of The Kardashians right now!
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on January 28, 2016
The Well-Educated Mind does a wonderful job of explaining how to go about reading with a purpose in an approachable and non-pretentious way. And by books, I mean not just any books, but some of The Great Books (key impressive music); which to some like myself, may be slightly intimidating if you are a decade (or two) out of university. (And never got around to reading any of these books while in said university). The author's approach is very straight forward, but her writing is anything but dry. She gives practical ways to break the books (which are addressed by genre in different chapters) into digestible chunks which make tackling these works perhaps more approachable than they are without a class syllabus, facilitator, or general plan. I am happy to have found this book and would definitely recommend for anyone looking to expand their horizons and library with some of the "greats". It's never too late to read!
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on July 19, 2017
So helpful for homeschooling. My go to manual.( And my oldest just got a full ride to a very prestigious university.)
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on March 9, 2018
A pretty great resource!
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on July 15, 2012
This book is ideal for anyone interested in reading and truly understanding great works of literature. It is perfect for anyone who is hard wired for a regimented system. I managed to do quite well getting through college without really ever reading and understanding the texts I was required to read, as an adult I wanted to try to read these texts and actually appreciate them. I concluded that perhaps though my comprehension was fine, my critical approach needed revising. I picked this book up because I was not quite ready to read the rather large "how to read a book" by Adler. I have since read both books and this one in my opinion, is a little easier to read. I. Recommend reading this first, then Adler's book after.

I like "well educated mind" because it provides a system, and part of that is that she provides questions you should be answering on your various reads specific to each genre. This is immediately helpful in making sure you are doing more than just reading but actually engaging the text. She provides a system of journal writing that I have found quite helpful and now use for every book I read. Too many times I plowed through a great work and afterward had literarily no idea or appreciation for what I just read, this book was perfect to get me to truly understand great works.
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on July 30, 2008
Helpful and very well organized. The author takes a very daunting task (to become "well read" and classically educated) and truly encourages and motivates the reader.

She offers her lists which, she explains, are just a starting point and not exhaustive. They are set up chronologically and she encourages the reader to make the lists their own by adding to or subtracting from the list.

She also offers her perspective and insight on how to accomplish the task at hand. For instance, she doesn't read her email prior to starting a serious reading. Her analysis of the issue hit the nail on the head.

I also appreciated the fact the author didn't re-write history by removing the Christian writings from her lists. Brava!
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on February 5, 2015
Three friends met and went through the biography list. Took us two years but we did it. Very good guide for anyone wanting to expand into areas they might have missed in school.
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on August 10, 2014
I loved the first part of this book. In it, Bauer lays out the foundation for what a classic education should look like, how people in the past of earned it without the benefit of schooling, and how you, as an individual can get your own. Her reasoning is well thought out and well researched and supported. The second part of the book is the list of books she recommends along with notes on what to look for. I ultimately decided to take matters into my own hands and augment her list with classic books of my own choosing, leaving off some of her suggestions either because I have already read them or because I wanted to go in a different direction. The net result is that I have designed a syllabus of my own to keep my busy for the next few years with a well thought out plan of action that should give me the kind of foundation I am looking for. I also appreciated Bauer's insights on how to take notes and the importance of finding like-minded people you can share ideas with. Sharing those ideas, it turns out, it essential to solidifying these concepts in our thinking.
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