Book Review: The Well-Educated Mind

I’m taking a mini blog break but instead of having no posts at all, I’m sharing some content that originally ran on another blog I had. I’ve updated the posts, but if you’ve been reading me for a long time, they may still be familiar.

Well-Educated MindThe Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never HadSusan Wise Bauer's The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had | Review by @SheilaRCraig by Susan Wise Bauer.

This book is proof to me that timing can be everything when reading a book. I semi-read it in 2008 and didn’t really care for it, but back then I was mostly reading it for the book lists, and I’m not all that interested in reading/rereading a lot of the books she mentions.

Reading it through this time, I had read her book The Well-Trained MindThe Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer, so I understand the concept of Classical Education more (I didn’t before) so I get what she’s trying to describe in a way I didn’t appreciate originally. I thought her short “histories of” the various genres were excellent. I studied History in graduate school, and I think her explanation of historiography and the eras of history writing was better than anything I read or heard in my entire post-graduate experience.

Her questions to ask yourself while reading the works (described in the second and third level reading techniques) were occasionally obvious, but in a “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that way.” Following her techniques would make me a much more critical reader, and I think they’d be very valuable when reading books that are worthy of such thoughtful analysis.

Highly recommended.

Publisher’s Description:
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.

Book Details

Title: The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never HadSusan Wise Bauer's The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had | Review by @SheilaRCraig
Author: Susan Wise Bauer
Category: Nonfiction
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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  1. I too have read this and even homeschooled with it! Great resource for homeschoolers, those looking for classic training!!

  2. Anything Bauer, yes. I read The Well-Trained Mind years ago {when I was teaching in a classical school}, and would love to curl up with Well-Educated Mind, of which I’ve only read snippets. Thank you for reviewing this one, Sheila!

    • With your background, I would sort of expect that much of Well-Educated Mind would be familiar for you, even if you haven’t read it all before. 🙂

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