by Susan Wise Bauer
The Well-Educated Mind offers brief, entertaining histories of six literary genres—fiction, autobiography, history, drama, poetry, and science—accompanied by detailed instructions on how to read each type. The annotated lists at the end of each chapter—ranging from Cervantes to Cormac McCarthy, Herodotus to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Aristotle to Stephen Hawking—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. This book shows you how to allocate time to reading on a regular basis; how to master difficult arguments; how to make personal and literary judgments about what you read; and how to appreciate the resonant links among texts within a genre—what does Anna Karenina owe to Madame Bovary?—as well as between genres.