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The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had Hardcover – August, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Bauer's The Well-Trained Mind (which she co-wrote with Jessie Wise) taught parents how to educate kids; her latest is designed for adults seeking self-education in the classical tradition. Reading-sustained, disciplined and structured-is her core methodology, so she starts with tips on improving reading skills and setting up a reading schedule (start with half-hour sessions four mornings a week, with daily journal writing). Reading is a discipline, like meditating or running, she says, and it needs regular exercise. To grow through reading-to reach the "Great Conversation" of ideas-Bauer outlines the three stages of the classical tradition: first, read for facts; then evaluate them; finally, form your own opinions. After explaining the mechanics of each stage (e.g., what type of notes to take in the book itself, or in the journal), Bauer begins the list section of the book, with separate chapters for her five major genres: fiction, autobiography/memoir, history/politics, drama and poetry. She introduces each category with a concise discussion of its historical development and the major scholarly debates, clearly defining all important terms (e.g., postmodernism, metafiction). And then, the piece de resistance: lists, in chronological order, of some 30 major works in each genre, complete with advice on choosing the edition and a one-page synopsis. Bauer has crafted a timeless, intelligent book.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-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. The first four chapters explain the author's well-thought-out three-step program, how and why it works, and how to prepare to use it. The remainder of the volume devotes a chapter each to analysis of novels, autobiography/memoirs, history, drama, and poetry. The system involves reading each book three times: once for the facts, once for analysis, and once for an informed evaluation of the author's ideas. Readers are encouraged during this process to mark up their books with comments and questions in the margins (or use Post-Its), and to keep a journal of quotes, summaries, questions, and ruminations. The genre chapters include some history, a discussion of important terms used, questions about the books that readers will want to ask themselves, a thoughtful prcis of 25 or so important titles presented chronologically (with discussion of the changes in the genre over the centuries), and recommendations for the best and cheapest editions of each title. Works range from the Greeks to Francis Fukuyama, from Cervantes to Don Delillo, from Homer to Rita Dove. Some Web sites are also mentioned as sources for understanding. While few teens will want or have time to read a book three times, most will find much of value in helping them to understand their reading assignments.
Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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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.
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!