In The Well-Trained Mind,
Susan Wise Bauer and her mother Jessie Wise road-mapped classical education for home school use. In The Well-Educated Mind
Bauer goes solo, turning her attention to adult readers who find their own education lacking. Using the same elements and techniques, Bauer divides her Book into two parts -- ''Beginning: Preparing for Classical Education'' and ''Reading: Jumping into the Great Conversation.'' In ''Beginning'' she posits, ''the first stage of reading should be a liberating one. Just read, and keep reading.'' Cautioning against getting hung up on passages we don't understand or nuances we've missed, Bauer lays out tips on note-taking, marginalia, what and what not to read (in regard to prefaces, introductions and such), outlining, and final evaluation. In Part Two, we get to the meat -- the texts themselves. Dedicating a chapter each to the novel, the memoir, the history, the play and the poem, Bauer offers a short introduction to the genre then a list of classic ''greats,'' complete with lively synopses and suggested editions. Each chapter includes its own list of how-tos particular to the genre, based on her three-tiered structure of inquiry: the grammar-stage, the logic-stage and the rhetoric stage. Sounds heady, but it's not. As a teacher, mom, writer and student, Ms. Bauer has earned her stripes and our respect. 432 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
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.