Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Well Educated Mind: Self Project

What? Another project? Like a five year The Classics Club project doesn’t enough!”, I can hear you were saying…. :). However… *self defending* this one would just add the fun of munching those classics books I have listed in the CCP anyway! :) The Well Educated Mind is a guide to read and understanding classics pieces in the right method, a book written by Susan Wise Bauer.

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. Susan Wise Bauer will show you how to allocate time to your reading on a regular basis; how to master a difficult argument; how to make personal and literary judgments about what you read; how to appreciate the resonant links among texts within a genre what does Anna Karenina owe to Madame Bovary and also between genres. Followed carefully, the advice in The Well-Educated Mind will restore and expand the pleasure of the written word.

Interesting, eh?

Actually, I am inspired by Ruth @ An Experiment with The Well-Educated Mind. I’m impressed on how she puts her review in neat and chronological posts, guided by some questions she took from The Well Educated Mind, which directly caught my interest. Then my craving for this book began, and last month I finally decided to buy it.

While waiting for the book to arrive, I have been creating a list of books I’d like to read for my WEM Self Project (there are 150 books from novel, poems, to plays). I have picked 31 books from it, these books are either has been included in my existing CCP list, or I just added because of WEM :) This time I won’t set any deadline to finish them, it’ll just flow with my mood and my interest; no targets, no pressures. I just want to read and savour them.

These are the 31 books I have picked (for now—it could grow wider)—this list will be posted in a dedicated page, you’ll find it on my main menu :

Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (re-read)
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy
The Portrait of A Lady – Henry James
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (re-read)
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
The Trial – Franz Kafka
The Stranger – Albert Camus
1984 – George Orwell
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
Possession – A.S. Byatt
The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila – St. Teresa of Avila
Walden – Henry David Thoreau
City of God – St. Augustine
The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli
All The President’s Men - Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward
Richard III – William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night’s Dream - William Shakespeare
Hamlet - William Shakespeare
The Cherry Orchard – Anton Chekhov
Saint Joan – George Bernard Shaw
Dante’s Inferno – Dante Alighieri

Although WEM advised us to read the list in order, I opt to pick the titles randomly, based on the availability of the books in my TBR pile :) or ebook list, and whether it’ll match my reading schedule (along with any challenges, read-alongs and events).

It means that starting next month I would probably post more often on each book which I’d pick for the project. I hope you won’t get bored to read a glimpse of the title each time you’re looking at your blogroll or google reader! ;) And because I would dug into these books thoroughly, I could not guarantee that my posts would be spoiler-free, and I won’t put a *spoiler-alert* sign each time I jot down my thoughts; just want to let you know beforehand.

My copy has just arrived, and the first book I’ll pick for the project is…. The Scarlet Letter.
Wait for my posts on November! ;)


  1. Good luck with that! Sounds like a good plan. It's probably cheaper than the way I go. I've bought some of those courses from The Great Courses. I've got a couple of them on literature that I'm going through. :)

    Right now, though, my personal project is to read and understand Milton's Paradise Lost...which is really putting my head in a bind! ;)

    1. I'm curious, what have you got from that courses?
      Well...good luck with it, anyway!

    2. Hmmm. What have I gotten from them? That's a good question! I've only just started, and I've bought a few of them, so I'll be going through them all slowly. It'll take me a few years!

      The key is: you get what you put in to these courses. The lectures give some fascinating (to me) critical and contextual commentary. Probably similar to what you'll get out of your book The Well Educated Mind. Plus there are recommended supplementary texts with further contextual and critical commentary. The nice thing about having something like this to guide you is that you get an expert's view on which supplementary books will be the most helpful. And they provide a handy reading list. ;)

      Basically, we're doing the same thing only with a different type of guide. I'll be interested in following your progress. I might even check out the book if my library has it. :)

    3. Great! I'm very excited to begin. I have perused the basic method, and I think it will help me a lot in reading the book I've chosen; but to know exactly, I must start doing it. *counting the days*

  2. This sounds like a fantastic idea! Sometimes I feel like I'm not reading right, so maybe this guide will help with that. Thank you so much for sharing! And best of luck with the project. *rushes off to buy this book*

    1. Yes, with only $26 you can learn a lot of how to read and appreciate classics properly. After practicing with their recommended books, I think we can do the same with other classics in the future.

      Don't forget to share your project too! ;)

    2. I ordered it. The book will arrive tomorrow. This came at a perfect time because I've been thinking of revamping my blog and revamping my Classics Club commitment.

    3. Great plan Lori! Good luck with your project, I'd really like to know your thoughts about WEM..

  3. Ah, this is what you meant with the Well Educated Mind project :-) It sounds exciting, Fanda, and I will keep a keen eye out for your progress.

  4. This is great! I own a copy of The Well-Educated Mind and have begun reading it, though I could never read the suggested list in orer. Best wishes, Fanda!!

    1. Thanks Mabel, I don't plan to read the whole list either (and definitely not in order). And I think, we can still read any books beyond the list using the same method.

      I have finished my first book: The Scarlet Letter, and I think I love the reading and analyzing process using WEM method! Good luck with your project too, Mabel!


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