Surrounded by more books than ever, readers today are frequently daunted by the classics they have left unread. The Well-Educated Mind, debunking our own inferiority complexes, is a wonderful resource for anyone wishing to explore and develop the mind's capacity to read and comprehend the "greatest hits" in fiction, autobiography, history, poetry, and drama.
Far from tossing readers into the swarming sea of classics and demanding that they swim, this book offers brief, entertaining histories of five literary genres, accompanied by detailed instructions on how to read each type. The annotated lists at the close of each chapterranging from Cervantes to A. S. Byatt, Herodotus to Paul Gilroypreview recommended reading and encourage readers to make vital connections between ancient traditions and contemporary writing.
Based on the same classical method as Bauer's terrifically successful The Well-Trained Mind, The Well-Educated Mind provides not only a thorough grounding in the classics but also a widely applicable foundation for self-education....Continua
I had already read Adler's book on the same subject, so only skimmed through Bauer's book to see where she differed. (So take this review with a grain of salt.)
Bauer spends most of her book with lists of rules on how precisely to go about reading a certain type of book, and spends the rest of it with lists and paragraph summaries of suggested works and authors. Her book list is very useful, but I was turned off by her rigid lists of requirements of how one should read, particularly her treatment of novels: keep a character list, summarize each chapter after reading it, etc. She may be correct in saying that it is useful to keep a reading journal, but suggesting that it is the best way is a grave error. The most important thing, in my own opinion, is to be aware of the things that you would write down if you were to follow her suggestion to invest in a journal. One need not write down what one can easily keep track of in one's mind. Only the most complex books (or those being read by a reviewer or researcher) require the kind of detailed note-taking she suggests; they are impractical and unreasonable for the average reader.