- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Updated and Expanded edition (November 16, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 039308096X
- ISBN-13: 978-0393080964
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 141 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Updated and Expanded) Updated and Expanded Edition
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“A useful resource for highly self-motivated readers.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“Bauer has crafted a timeless, intelligent book…. A well-balanced, long-lasting reading program…. A brilliant guide on to how to analyze any given literary work―even if it’s not on Bauer’s list.”
- Publishers Weekly
“A clear guide to educating oneself in the liberal arts through disciplined, critical reading of literary classics.”
- Library Journal
“Written in a straightforward style accessible to most students, this readable book provides solid, step-by-step advice on how to read some of the world’s great books with discipline and comprehension.”
- School Library Journal
About the Author
Susan Wise Bauer is a writer, educator, and historian. Her previous books include the Writing With Ease, Writing With Skill, and Story of the World series from Well-Trained Mind Press, as well as The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, Rethinking School, The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, and the History of the World series, all from W. W. W. Norton. She has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William & Mary in Virginia, as well as an M.A. in seventeenth-century literature and a Master of Divinity in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature. For fifteen years, she taught literature and composition at the College of William and Mary.
Top customer reviews
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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.
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!
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.