Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had is my first substantial entrée into the study of great books. The book is a primer on how to read various kinds of literature—novels, biography, history, drama, and poetry. The author suggests what to look for in works of each genre and how to take notes in a way that enhances the three stages of learning: grammar (understanding), logic (analysis), and rhetoric (argument). The book includes a guide to foundational works in each category.
An essential part of the learning process is rhetoric—arguing and defending your opinions on the work in question—for which you need partners. You can find other TWEM enthusiasts online at the official TWEM website, in the TWEM Yahoo group, and now in the blogosphere at Well-Educated Minds.
I am still working my way through the book and am applying Wise Bauer’s note-taking method to the instructional material in the book and not yet reading the books she discusses. There are other books on reading (see Next in Line, left) that I want to study and synthesize before assembling and tackling a mountainous reading list. Why read so many books? Because they’re there.