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Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,677 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
This funny and tender book combines three of Alice Steinbach’s greatest passions: learning, traveling, and writing. After chronicling her European journey of self-discovery in Without Reservations, this Pulitzer Prize—winning columnist for the Baltimore Sun quit her job and left home again. This time she roamed the world, taking lessons and courses in such things as French ...more
Paperback, 289 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published April 6th 2004)
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Dec 21, 2009 Angie rated it it was ok
I find myself having really mixed feelings about this book. On the bright side, Alice’s adventures REALLY made me want to travel! Her explorations to the French gardens were especially relaxing, and her visit to Japan and the study of geisha life was really interesting. And I absolutely LOVED the chapter on discovering Jane Austen’s life in England…I want to go on the tours she described!! The author also had some nice insight from time to time on the culture at hand or life as a whole. In addit ...more
Jun 29, 2009 Lynda rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book. The description sounded perfect to me. I also share a love of travel and taking classes on anything that interests me. The difference is that I have trouble writing letters about my experiences, much less writing essays about these travels and learning experiences.

I did love the chapter on the French cooking school and her descriptions of the people she met and places she explored. Also, I was charmed by her study of Japanese culture. As a Jane Austen addict, I loved
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 26, 2012 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it
Shelves: read05, travel
I am a huge fan of womens' travel writings, and this is one of the best yet. Alice didn't just travel to places, she did things like enroll in a cooking school, learn how to train a border collie in Scotland, learn traditional Japanese dance... it was more of an educational travel tale. ...more
Liz Wilson
Aug 27, 2007 Liz Wilson rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No One
I have a thing about needing to finish ever book that I start...this book made it really really really difficult. I have nothing good to say about it. I found her narrative to be forced and her commentary totally weak. Don't ever read this book.
Apr 15, 2009 Bridget rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes first person travel stories
Recommended to Bridget by: My friend Karen
Shelves: 2009-reads
Educating Alice : the Adventures of a Curious Woman, by Alice Steinbach.

I received this book from a friend who read it and thought I would enjoy it. I really did! Alice Steinbach worked for approximately twenty years as a reporter for a Baltimore newspaper, and as part of that job, traveled all over the world. Though she enjoyed the work, she found herself at a point in her life where she longed to be more on her own, not tied to a specific job, but still able to write. So she resigned/retired f
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Alice Steinbach makes the time to travel the world again, taking local classes that interest her and observing the cultures she finds. She studies cooking in Paris, Japanese culture/arts in Kyoto, several aspects of Florence, Jane Austen in England, Cuban culture in Havana, the gardens of the south of France, writing in Prague, and training Border Collies for sheepdog trials in Scotland.

I loved Without Reservations, Steinbach's first book. I admired her courage in packing up and traveling solo.
Oct 04, 2011 alysa rated it it was ok
This book was extremely hard to get through. It just didn't hold my interest, and I kept falling asleep. It is a series of stories about this woman's travels. Although some of the information she presented about the various locations was interesting, I felt the author was searching for a point and didn't make it. I felt that the time line jumped around too much. As she would talk about the various places she seemed to talk about the days of her visit unchronologically and that made it kind of ha ...more
Mar 25, 2012 Melanie rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, 2012-reads
I quite enjoyed most of the individual chapters in this, especially the ones about adventures in England, France, and Scotland , but the book as a whole I found a bit lacking. I kept expecting for there to be a unifying theme or experience that just wasn't there - no Grand Plan laid out in the prologue for why these particular trips were chosen, no Great Philosophy of travel (other than hotels are good), no point for each trip other than to finish it and "learn" something, and far too little rel ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 16, 2016 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, strong-women
I want to be Alice Steinbach. I want to travel around the world. I want to stop here and there and take classes in things that interest me. I want to go to Paris and take a cooking class. I want to go to Italy and study art. I want to visit England and learn more about Jane Austen. And then I want to come home and write a book---this one---about my adventures during this world tour.

No, my life is too busy right now for me to be Alice Steinbach and travel the world and take classes. Luckily, howe
Apr 01, 2012 Mary rated it did not like it
When I read the back of the book I was excited. Even when I describe the book to someone it sounds great. Actually reading the book, not so great. The adventures that Alice goes on sound so enjoyable and she gives very detailed descriptions, yet there's a disconnect I can't quite put my finger on. The best way of explaining it, that I can come up with, is it's just too perfect, too polished. I don't feel any passion or humanness even while she's describing her passion or her flaws or memories. I ...more
Feb 14, 2016 Deane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
One of my all-time favourite books because she writes about things I, myself, would have loved to do with a friend; not alone as she did. I love to learn and have taken courses in many subjects but only in Canada and eastern USA. Alice learned about Japanese culture in Kyoto, took a writing course in Prague, learned about sheep dogs and their work in Scotland, studied Jane Austen in England, visited beautiful gardens in Provence, learned French Cooking at the Ritz in Paris, architecture in Havan ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Kristi rated it it was amazing
I located this gem when I was searching for a woman's travelogue to live vicariously through.

Reading Educating Alice, I was pleasantly immersed in following Alice Steinbach as she travelled the world. First, to Paris to take a cooking class in Paris, then off to Japan to sample a Wakayagi dance class, meet a geisha, and enjoy a tea ceremony. Her next stop, Italy, studying Art in Florence, followed by a Jane Austin adventure in Winchester. Next up was art, jazz, food and friends in Havana, garde
Apr 27, 2012 Mikayla_ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I didn't finish this book. I couldn't. I really enjoyed the first chapter about Parisian cooking but after that the stories became less and less exciting. I started to get more and more annoyed with the airy-fairy quality of her writing and just generally pissed off with the massive amount of personal details in this book. We are not interested in learning
about your dead grandmother or your current relationship. We want to learn about new places, and you aren't focussing on that nearly enough.
Jul 24, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
What I should probably say, right away, is that I found the book immensely readable. Quite aside from what Goodreads' data says (I forgot to "add" the book until I was nearly finished), I spent a couple of weeks reading this, during a time when health complications often left me tired, listless, and easy to distract. I would huddle up with the book for fifteen or thirty-minute sessions, sometimes clearing a chapter in as many as four or five installments. That's not a criticism; Steinbach's pros ...more
May 24, 2016 Liz rated it it was amazing
Alice Steinbach, I have discovered since beginning this book, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Baltimore Sun. She died earlier this year. After her newspaper career, she began a life of travel and writing that resulted in several books, including this, her final work. Steinbach had become known as a travel writer after her book Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman was published in 2000. Over the next several years, she traveled to places in search of knowledge a ...more
Oct 26, 2015 Sonja rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I love travelogues and the fact the traveler is a single, independent, woman driven by her own curiosity makes this one outstanding. I especially loved her trip to see the gardens of southern France. Steinbach's writing is detailed and captures what she experiences in her knowledge quests and what she learns serendipitously.
Aug 12, 2015 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, adult, art, travel
Alice Steinbach is an amazing writer--that's not why I rated this book as okay. However, as she traveled the world learning about new cultures and actually taking classes in other countries, I kept thinking--how does she have the money and time to do this? In every essay I read, I kept seeing glimpses of privilege that prevented me from connecting her with her. I guess she was a bit too classy for me? What she does while traveling is great, but I don't have the time or the money to run off and t ...more
Jun 23, 2016 Jean rated it really liked it
The writing quality of Educating Alice is definitely 5-star. However, for me this book did not come up to Ms. Steinbach's earlier work, Without Reservations. I love the idea of spending a year and a half following one's dream of learning about specific skills in various places in the world. Possibly the reason it only rated 4-star for me is because her choices of adventure would not have been mine. Her choices were interesting and I learned much about things I normally would not have thought abo ...more
Emily Von pfahl
Feb 18, 2016 Emily Von pfahl rated it really liked it
One of the ways I evaluate memoirs is by asking myself if I would want to be friends with the author. In this case, the overwhelming answer is yes. I found the book to be a delightful read, although it filled me with a great deal of envy. The book also contained a lot of nuggets of very interesting information which I love. Steinbach has a knack for capturing the time and place of her travels, and her ability to make friends everywhere she goes is to be admired. I would love to join her on any o ...more
Luciana Darce
Aug 13, 2015 Luciana Darce rated it really liked it
As Viagens de Alice primeiro me chamou a atenção quando eu estava às voltas com o especial de 150 anos de publicação de Alice no País das Maravilhas - creio que numa pesquisa por títulos com ‘Alice’ no meio, ele caiu na minha rede. Bastou ler a sinopse para saber que não tinha nada a ver com a obra de Carroll, mas ainda assim ela me prendeu suficiente atenção para não descartá-la de cara. Anotei o título à parte e deixei lá na minha lista de futuras leituras.

Pouco tempo depois, ele apareceu numa
Danielle Bauter
Feb 16, 2015 Danielle Bauter rated it really liked it
Having read and enjoyed Without Reservations, I was so happy to come across Steinbach's second book. I loved her idea of selecting eight countries in the world that she wanted to visit and then integrating a pursuit of her various interests at each spot. While reading this book I felt like I was settling into a conversation with Steinbach about her adventures over a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine. It was a treat to read about her experiences as a culinary student at the Ritz Carlton in Par ...more
Chantal LeGendre
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 12, 2013 Sj rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
At times I really enjoyed this book, at other times I found myself frustrated with the author and bored. I think the concept of this book is great. I really like the idea of traveling the world and taking classes in some local custom, tradition, or cultural experience everywhere. That sounds like so much fun. What I like is that the author really explored different types of classes. And that although she was always somewhere learning something, sometimes her classes weren't the most interesting/ ...more
Apr 15, 2013 Kate rated it liked it
"This funny and tender book combines three of Alice Steinbach's greatest passions: learning, traveling, and writing. After chronicling her European journey of self-discovery in Without Reservations, this Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Baltimore Sun quit her job and left home again. This time she roamed the world, taking lessonsand courses in such things as French cooking in Paris, Border collie training in Scotland, traditional Japanese arts in Kyoto, and architecture and art in Havana ...more
Oct 11, 2007 Cecilia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: travelers
Like in her first book, Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman, Steinbach does a fabulous job of capturing the specifics of a solo traveler’s life on the move. In this book, though, she sets her journeys up in more of a pro-active approach…she’s not just a wanderer…but a student or a lecturer or someone who wants to learn in more detail than most tourists. Her travels revolve mostly around Europe, with jaunts to Japan and Cuba as well. But, in each place, she has a goal…to lea ...more
Jun 21, 2008 Carrie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Laura, Liz & travelers everwhere
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel Rogers
Interesting read. The premise: Alice Steinbach is a traveler who enjoys getting the feel for a place; therefore she goes to great efforts to get behind the scenes of a city and see it (more or less) like a resident. And learn something at the same time. She searches out intensive and immersive learning experiences in such places as Havana, Florence, Kyoto, Paris, the English countryside, Scotland. She takes the cooking class at the Ritz Escoffier, a series of encounters with Japanese women expla ...more
Aug 02, 2015 Barbara rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, travel
Reporter Alice Steinbach set up learning adventures in various venues around the world, then wrote about them in this collection of essays. She studied cooking at the Paris Ritz; dancing in Kyoto, Japan; tracked Jane Austin in England; explored Havana, Cuba; toured gardens in Province and more. This is an easy read but I found each essay to be slightly marred by a sense of entitlement and a tone of superiority. Perhaps I am just a little jealous, however. How does one get a life like that?
Jun 13, 2014 Magdalena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, because, like the author, I like learning new things, some quite obscure. Although I read with interest about most of her travels, some activities did not appeal to me as much as others - I loved the bit about Japan and Jane Austen and even cooking. But seepdogs at work are definately not something I would love to see. But throughout the book I couldn't stop wondering - where does she take the money for all of that?! I checked online one of the hotels she stayed in and it wa ...more
Sep 11, 2014 Beatrice rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, travel
Alice Steinbach, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, has decided, after quitting her career as a journalist, to do what she has never had time to do - go places and spend time learning things that truly interest her. Whether it's Florentine history, French cooking, or Japanese dancing, Alice has the luxury of time to settle in, live, breathe, and truly experience other cultures from within. It's an interesting read, and gave me a few ideas for adventures of my own.
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Alice Steinbach, whose work at the Baltimore Sun was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1985, has been a freelance writer since 1999. She was appointed the 1998-1999 McGraw Professor of Writing at Princeton University and is currently a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
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“A letter is always better than a phone call. People write things in letters they would never say in person. They permit themselves to write down feelings and observations using emotional syntax far more intimate and powerful than speech will allow.” 71 likes
“What is the purpose of memory? Is it a trick to make sure we don't forget who we are by reminding us of who we were?” 4 likes
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