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Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,393 ratings  ·  135 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, 320 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published April 6th 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lynda
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
...more
Angie
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
Bridget
Apr 15, 2009 Bridget rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
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 1 of 5 stars
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.
alysa
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
Melanie
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
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
...more
Mary
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
Kristi
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
...more
Mikayla_
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.
Sarah
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
Chantal LeGendre
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sj
Jun 12, 2013 Sj rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Kate
"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
Cecilia
Oct 11, 2007 Cecilia rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Carrie
Jun 21, 2008 Carrie rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Magdalena
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
Beatrice
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.
Dee Ann
I enjoyed this book so very much. It's a book about travels and the education that occurs because of it, both intentional and accidental. As a Pulitzer-winning feature writer, Steinbach obviously has a gift for telling a good story. Her stories come from places I have met and loved - Paris, Scotland, Provence, Florence - but she got to know them in different ways than I did by taking formal classes in each: cooking in Paris, sheepdog training in Scotland, gardening in Provence, art in Florence. ...more
Martha
This woman took a year off from her job at a newspaper to travel around the globe learning various things. It starts in France at a cooking school, and ends in Scotland learning to herd sheep with working border collies. Her tales are interesting most of the time, and her writing draws you in (one of my favorites is her dancing in a bar in Cuba) so you experience the places, people and cultures like you were travelling with her. This is one woman who dreamed of places and things she wanted to ex ...more
Monicamarlo
Alice Steinbach seems like she would be an excellent travel companion. Positive about the random adventures that come her way when seeking to grow not just in her abilities, but also as a global citizen who appreciates each culture for it's foibles and beauty. She is honest in acknowledging her selfish drives when they arise along her journeys which makes her experience descriptions that much more believable. I don't have the resources yet to go on my own learning sabbatical, but someday when I ...more
Cindy
Another group of fine stories recounting the author's pursuit of new experiences. Each lesson adds "a new layer of muscle to both mind and body." Cooking school at the Ritz in Paris, dancing in Kyoto, following in Jane Austin's footsteps, shepherding with border collies in Scotland. She's a charming writer.

Steinbach discovered that Japanese women are uncomfortable ASKING personal questions, but they seem fine answering them, though they shun the word "I". "Moon viewing was still a tradition in
...more
Pamela
Great: Chapter 1 “The act of cooking forced you to live in the present tense,… Living in the present tense meant living like a child, or as I had come to define it, living in the purity of the ticking moment.” The way Alice immersed herself into each endeavor was interesting. I loved how she wrote the details of turning strangers into friends. Also, how she included food in her journeys by describing the places she dined and the food she ate.
Leah
So I'm becoming a big fan of Alice Steinbach. Her previous book, Without Reservations, was so inspiring as she traveled the world, and this book was no less. Alice decides to be adventurous and try some fabulous new things, like taking a cooking class at the Ritz in Paris, learning the art of sheepdog training in scotland, visiting the most amazing gardens in Provence, following Jane Austen's life in England,visiting gardens and a small church in Italy, and taking a writing class in Prague. It w ...more
Roberta
It was the subtitle that got me, Adventures of a Curious Woman. I related. I think there is hardly anything I don't wonder about. The idea of travelling to different places and pursuing an interest really resonated with me. Most of the essays were charming and all were well written. I especially liked the cooking in Paris adventure.

But, I started to wonder how she did it. Does she have a vast personal fortune? And there was a certain priveleged snootiness that slipped through at times. She menti
...more
Sangeeta

Steinbach's travelog is charming in bits, a tad laborious at other times but overall a fairly absorbing read, especially for the wanderlust-struck. Perhaps it was my innate fascination with Europe that had me gripped; perhaps it is her account of travel presented as a backdrop to other creative pursuits she embarks upon -either way I enjoyed reading the book. Her vividly detailed descriptions of people, objects and (of course) places provide for a uniquely rich tapestry of a travel experience th
...more
Jeni Enjaian
I really enjoyed this book, though the ending left me wanting more. Alice crafted beautiful little vignettes of her travel rich enough to make me want to drop what I'm doing and start traveling the world. This kind of travel memoir is right up my alley, something I would love to do if I had the time and especially the money.

However, as good as this book was, it felt a bit disconnected. I couldn't tell whether these different visits were one right after the other or spread out over the course of
...more
Rachel
I really enjoyed Steinbach's book, Without Reservations, so I decided to read this one. The first few adventures were well written, with lots of interesting details and personal observations, plus meetings with locals. I particularly enjoyed her not-the-usual tourist activities in Cuba.

I was impressed by her ability to enjoy the courses she took without giving lectures to the reader. l loved when she went to see gardens in Provence. wonderful I'm a gardener and I breezed through that chapter.

I
...more
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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.
More about Alice Steinbach...
Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman The Miss Dennis School of Writing: And Other Lessons from a Woman S Life Educating Alice

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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.” 60 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?” 3 likes
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