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The Well-Educated Mind (Q&A)

August 23, 2008

Rebecca Reid asks: So what does it take to have a “Well-Educated Mind”?
It takes being willing to read the same book three times in order to understand it on three levels. Unfortunately, most of the book is taken up with plot summaries of the novels and plays (and who wants to know the ending of a novel before they begin?! seriously!?). If I were Bauer, I would have included a full walk-through in each section (novel, history, drama, poetry) of an example book so that the reader could see her plan in action. She didn’t do that, though.

Alisa says: I would love to hear more about The Well-Educated Mind.
I was disappointed. I wanted Bauer to spend more time on the ‘thought process’ and less time on the ‘book summary.’ I couldn’t really recommend this.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2008 9:38 am

    I usually recommend this book. It’s the book that got me reading classics and loving them. For clarities sake, Bauer doesn’t say you have to read the book 3 times. She does say that would benefit you but that no one has the time to devote to that kind of understanding of a book. I only read the books once and went back to the text when I couldn’t answer the questions right away.

    You can totally skip the summaries. Bauer advises that you don’t read a summary before reading the book because it can unnecessarily color your view. And all too often Bauer’s summaries are fulll of interpretation or mistakes.

    I agree that an example of the process would have been most helpful but I didn’t find the process difficult at all, just time consuming. But I think this is a great book for those that are just beginning to read analytically, who are uncomfortable with their ability to analyze books and for those that love lists. I have been greatly helped by the suggestions in TWEM(The Well-Educated Mind).

  2. August 23, 2008 9:00 pm

    I have this book and I keep meaning to read it, but I kind of feel like my mind is already relatively well-educated so I guess it’s not at the top of my list!

  3. August 25, 2008 7:17 pm

    “to read the same book three times in order to understand it on three levels”

    How To Red A Book also mentions this under the topic of close reading. It might also imply critical reading, of which a substantial task is taking and cross-referencing notes.

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