By Susan Wise Bauer

Hardcover, 510 pages, 2016.

WW Norton & Co

If you want to know what Great Books you should read to have a classical education, then read this expert on homeschooling. It’s a Literature education in itself as it gives significant books that formed historic thought through the centuries.

Great books are not necessarily well-written. You don’t have to read them all, but your should know what they contribute.

The point is to know the context of why and when a book was written. Books are not written in a vacuum. Books are influenced by many variables before and during the author’s life: his past, work, education, culture, current events, prevailing thoughts, philosophy, and society.

To what end?

The practice of knowing how to read a Great Book hones a well-trained mind. Such mental rigor is capable of great depth of thought and insight. We gain the ability to determine the Truth and guide our lives accordingly.

Tackling great books sharpens us. So when we behold any book, we can easily weigh its merits to see what it adds to the great mass of literary craft. Is the nonfiction logical, factual, and convincing? Does it even matter if we don’t read it?

As for fiction, is it beautiful, moving, entertaining? What does it tell us about life? Or does it have nothing to say?

Only worthwhile books deserve to be read with such scrutiny. Those that fail the test can be abandoned without guilt.

—- Ivy Lopez