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The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the…

The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had

by Susan Wise Bauer

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In this book, Susan Wise Bauer describes how to read and how to think critically about the works that you do read. She includes advice on how to read novels, autobiographies, histories, plays and poems. Most of it involves journals and reading books a few times. Understanding can be acquired through hard work and effort, which gives me hope.

Every section contains an annotated summary of suggested works and the suggested version to read along with the ISBN of that version and the price, which is very helpful. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Sep 2010):
- I'd recommend this valuable guide to anyone who wants to delve a bit deeper in their reading experiences. What Bauer offers us that can enhance...are suggestions for note-taking, rereading text, and asking a series of searching questions. These sort of 2nd and 3rd tier questions, such as, "What do the characters WANT in the story?, What stands in their way?", or, in history, "What are the historian's major assertions?..", as well as rhetoric-level inquiry, like "What place does free will have?".., are laid out for each major genre.
- Added to the instructions, she lists and summarizes her recommended readings in each genre. So I've been reminded again of how lacking my classical education really is. Her style is very readable, not gratingly academic. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Jul 26, 2018 |
I picked up this book because I wanted to work on my book reviewing and critiquing skills, and for this purpose I liked it. Bauer does a good job of providing a systematic self-study approach to reading that really does help organize one's reactions and impressions, and makes it easier to get more out of reading a book than just "I liked it" or "I hated it." Bauer provides a 3-step process, with a first read-through and then 2 additional passes which allow the reader to evaluate the book's structure and content through the use of various useful questions.

I was a bit annoyed at how mired in 'dead white guys' the reading lists are in the annotated reading list segments of the second part of each chapter. There were a couple female authors, and even a couple non-white ones, but the focus is still toward traditional Western classical education, with all the elitist, paternalist biases that tradition contains. But as a guide to get readers started reading more thoroughly, this book definitely works, and it is easy to use the framework Bauer provides to read other books not included in her lists. In fact Bauer does suggest adding in and taking out books from her lists as the readers feels is necessary. I have already read 50% of the books in her fiction list, so I am not quite her target audience anyway; the point of this book is really to help adults who did not get a solid classical education catch up through their own self-study (and through discussing their readings with a friend who is also reading the same books, but since I have no willing friend around who could keep up with my reading that is not likely to happen soon). ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
The subtitle says it all: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. Guides you in the classical education you may wish to undergo. Suggests authors. Gives fascinating history and details you might have otherwise missed. A very inspiring and interesting book. ( )
  Colby_Glass | Jul 2, 2015 |
Huh. This is another book I stumbled across somewhere and decided to give a try. I tried Cultural Literacy in audio, and that was a mistake: pretentious, prescriptivist, and about one-third list that does not make for good audio. That book was obvious; this one is juvenile.

I was doing what the author suggests -- reading the table of contents and first chapters to assess whether it was worth investing my time and energy -- when, on page 47, I came across the delightful tidbit that Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams in 1841. After that it was a quick read.

She gives "representative," annotated lists of classic novels (75% British or Usan), autobiographies, histories, plays, and poetry, in chronological order. She rightly cautions the reader not to read criticism or introduction by anyone but a novel's author until after reading that novel, but then, amusingly, sketches the plots of, for instance, Crime and Punishment and Invisible Man. Summaries of novels whose plots are not their most important feature -- plus a few sentences about the novels' themes and import, i.e., criticism.

The novels start with Don Quixote (of course) and end with Possession. The autobiographies range from Augustine to Elie Wiesel, the history from Herodotus to Fukuyama, the drama from Aeschylus to "Equus," and the poetry from Gilgamesh to Rita Dove. She skipped from "School for Scandal" to "Doll's House," and I immediately thought she was lame (were playwrights not writing notable plays because they were forging correspondence between dead presidents?) for skipping an entire century, but then I realized I couldn't name a single play from the early 1800s either (except for "Our American Cousin," whose literary import (if any) is not why I know about it). But I am not her audience. I might not have had a classical education but I did have a liberal one and have read most the titles or authors in her five categories.
2 vote ljhliesl | May 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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 pièce de résistance: 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.

Forecast: Bauer's book has a large potential readership. For serious self-educators, it's a well-balanced, long-lasting reading program. For book-clubbers, it's a brilliant guide on to how to analyze any given literary work—even if it's not on Bauer's list. And for college students in trouble, it's a quick gloss of books there wasn't time to read, plus sound advice on spotting critical fallacies.
added by VivienneR | editPublisher's Weekly (Jul 14, 2003)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393050947, Hardcover)

An engaging, accessible guide to educating yourself in the classical tradition.

Have you lost the art of reading for pleasure? Are there books you know you should read but haven't because they seem too daunting? In The Well-Educated Mind, Susan Wise Bauer provides a welcome and encouraging antidote to the distractions of our age, electronic and otherwise. In her previous book, The Well-Trained Mind, the author provided a road map of classical education for parents wishing to home-school their children, and that book is now the premier resource for home-schoolers. In this new book, Bauer takes the same elements and techniques and adapts them to the use of adult readers who want both enjoyment and self-improvement from the time they spend reading.

The Well-Educated Mind offers brief, entertaining histories of five literary genres—fiction, autobiography, history, drama, and poetry—accompanied by detailed instructions on how to read each type. The annotated lists at the end of each chapter—ranging from Cervantes to A. S. Byatt, Herodotus to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich—preview recommended reading and encourage readers to make vital connections between ancient traditions and contemporary writing.

The Well-Educated Mind reassures those readers who worry that they read too slowly or with below-average comprehension. If you can understand a daily newspaper, there's no reason you can't read and enjoy Shakespeare's Sonnets or Jane Eyre. But no one should attempt to read the "Great Books" without a guide and a plan. Susan Wise Bauer will show you how to allocate time to your reading on a regular basis; how to master a difficult argument; how to make personal and literary judgments about what you read; how to appreciate the resonant links among texts within a genre—what does Anna Karenina owe to Madame Bovary?—and also between genres. Followed carefully, the advice in The Well-Educated Mind will restore and expand the pleasure of the written word.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"For thousands of years, in hundreds of different cultures, individuals have consulted oracles in times of need. In this compelling exploration of the fascinating history and enduring popularity of oracles, Michael Wood examines how we interpret them and why." "Using examples drawn from actual oracles that existed at Delphi, Dodona, and elsewhere, and from fictional - but influential - oracles in literature from Oedipus to Macbeth, Wood combines storytelling and commentary to provide an entertaining and concise account of humanity's persistent faith in signs. He also looks at later instances of oracles, arguing that consultations have evolved in many ways over the years, and that echoes and survivals of old practices in modern literature and popular culture - in the works of Kafka and Proust and in the films The Matrix and Minority Report, as well as in astrology columns - continue to exert an important influence over human civilization.". "Inspired, engaging, and remarkably revealing, The Road to Delphi shows an ancient art at work in many times and places, and invites us to think again about the ways in which we deal with our longing for the certainties we know we can't have."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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