Last week, I wrote that we should spend more time learning how to think. This book helps you to learn how to think. So for the curious or the busy, here’s a book review.

Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Educated Mind: The Guide to Classical Education You Never Had argues that reading the right kind of books in the right way can greatly improve one’s ability to think and to communicate. I enjoyed Bauer’s direct writing style. Sometimes I get the feeling that writers have one good idea that balloons out to two hundred (publisher endorsed) pages. Not so with Bauer. She argues three major points:

You don’t have to go college to be educated.

Bauer’s most influential period of formal learning was in post-graduate study when she read a lot and spent a lot of time arguing ideas posited in her prescribed reading. She highlights the value of a mentor (and consequently the value of formal education) and the value of the books themselves.

You should read the right books in the right way.

Bauer says that you could pick at least thirty minutes every day to read at a time when you are awake (as opposed to using a book to fall asleep). She also recommends using a journal with summary notes and interrogative questions related to your reading.

Your reading list should be balanced and methodical.

The back half of the book is a categorised list of classics with instructions on what to look for when you’re reading the books. I found this list to be highly valuable.

I enjoyed Bauer’s book and it only took three hours to read. You can purchase it direct from Amazon or download it to your Kindle/iPad.

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About Jeremy Kwok

Jeremy grew up in Sydney before moving to the United States for tertiary studies. Jeremy completed the BA, MA (History), and M.Div degrees before returning to Australia with his wife Debbie. He currently works for Christian Education Ministries, a company that owns and operates private schools.


  1. Steve 5 August, 2010 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Sounds like an interesting book. I think it was C.S Lewis who said that you should read for the sheer enjoyment of reading and not so people will think you educated. Since adopting that mentality I have read more and more widely than before.
    I am currently going through Dickens and thoroughly enjoying his books. After Dickens, I think I will go back to Alexandre Dumas and read The Three Musketeers. Or maybe reread Les Miserables.

    I wonder if reading more methodically would take away the enjoyment of reading such sublime works of literature. Taking notes and a journal almost makes it seem like homework or a uni assignment.

  2. Cammie Novara 5 August, 2010 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    “Sometimes I get the feeling that writers have one good idea that balloons out to two hundred (publisher endorsed) pages – not so with Bauer.” Fully coherent with my own experience.

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