This is a journal entry of my thoughts reading ”The well-educated mind” by Susan Wise Bauer


I have never quite seen reading novels, or historical accounts as study. But why shouldn’t it be just like any other study material? Why shouldn’t I approach ”literature” in the same way that I approach Marketing or Power Systems Analysis and Design both of which I went through studying at the University.


Susan Wise Bauer begins with establishing how to read for educational purposes. Reading for pleasure and reading to learn are two different things – and I’ve always known that – but I haven’t quite put in the context of reading a novel for learning. Though Susan makes quite a few points that I really find worth noting:

(1) Read the book without getting hung up on details – make good use of highlights and markings to retrace those difficult sections afterwards.

(2) When finished reading through – go back to analyze the sections of note more carefully.

(3) Establish a viewpoint against the author’s ideas – agreements and disagreements.

I can easliy get stuck on words that I don’t know or sentences that I don’t quite understand. This stops me in my tracks and makes me reread the word/passage several times…sometimes even further back – trying to analyze as I go along. Far from ideal, and Susan makes this point as well – that the focus of the reading should be to grasp the overall concept of the book, and when finished, go back to get deeper understandings.


Some people tend to read books more than once – and this is something I’ve rarely done (The Legend of the Ice People being a clear exception). But looking back on interesting passages of note – as Susan suggests – is an interesting thought, that I think would actually help me grasping the deeper points of a work. I am not, unlike my fiance, someone who remembers every detail while reading – I can’t instantaneously quote a passage from a work I read a week ago – but I could very well give a summary, and say if I liked it or not. But learning something? Other than it being a pleasent story?


In order to keep thoughts focused when summarising a work, Susan points out the importance of quotes. Quotes from a work of interesting passages/sentences helps spark the memory of the book – and I can definetely see that point.