Wednesday, June 13, 2018

On reading to become well-educated

I've recently been exposed to Susan Wise Bauer's list of books for the Well-Educated Mind (this blog has the neatest and clearest copy of her list that I could easily find). The friend who told me about it talked about how she and her partner were working through the list separately and that they felt it would be a lifelong project to read through this list. I was impressed with her dedication and with the broad range of perspective that her exposure to this list had given her so far.

That being said, this list is one person's perspective of what a well-educated person should have read. There are a lot of classic texts and a lot more modern ones. There's some diversity on this list as well. It got me thinking about what I would add to this list or what more I would want to consider someone well-educated. And here are a few of my ideas:

  • Eastern books - Most of the work on this list comes from Western authors. Though there is a lot of diversity on the list, it is mostly confined to Western countries or ancient Greek and Roman writings. I'd love to see some ancient Chinese, Indian, or Japanese works in translation listed on here. And the broadness of this request shows how little I know about Eastern literature, but I'd love to learn more and this list could be an excellent start to that exposure. And knowing about world cultures should be an important part of being well-educated.
  • More work by women - This is another area that I feel like this list could be expanded more. I understand that throughout history, women's writing has not been as prominent or as beloved as men's writing. However, there are plenty of modern women writers that deserve recognition or that must be read for one to be considered well-educated. I was glad to see Toni Morrison on this list, but the poetry section seemed especially sparse for women. Again, I wish I knew more about poetry to better recommend specific women poets to be included, but this list would be an excellent opportunity to expose people to more important women's writing.

What would you add to or remove from this list? What books do you think someone must read to be considered well-educated?

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