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Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman
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Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,034 ratings  ·  195 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 January 1st 2004)
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3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,034 ratings  ·  195 reviews

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Dec 10, 2009 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 20, 2009 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
I haven’t awarded a 5 star read for quite a while , but this exquisite read deserves it. I truly liked Alice , and I especially enjoyed her time in Paris and Winchester with all the jane Austen stuff
Liz Wilson
Aug 14, 2007 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.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, read05
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. 
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.
Apr 09, 2009 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
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend recommend this book to me after I told her that one of my main goals as a recent retiree was to find the beauty in things and become a more educated person. Even though it is not a great book, it fit into my ambitions, suggesting avenues that would not have immediately occurred to me. The author, Alice, has a simple, dry writing style as befits a newspaper journalist, and perhaps in recognition of this, she spices the book up with childhood memories and letters and conversations with th ...more
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
In “Without Reservations” Alice Steinbach took a leave of absence from her journalist job at the Baltimore Sun and traveled in Europe. When she tried to return to her old routine, she discovered that her curiosity was leading her back to more travel and a chance to learn new things. She takes a French cooking class in Paris, explores architecture and art in Havana, learns to train border collies to herd sheep in Scotland, studies Jane Austen in England, and takes a course in writing non-fiction ...more
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I loved Without Reservations because it was based entirely on Alice's travels. This book, however, was more focused on the courses she took in various countries and little about the travel to reach them. Just not to my liking.
Carla Catalano
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Alice Steinbach (author of Without Reservations) certainly has a curious mind and the fever of wanderlust. It would be great if we could all be Alice and pick 6 or 8 destinations each with a variety and long list of things to learn and write about. Alice's greatest gift and honed skill is her curiosity and the ability to find people all over ready to satisfy her thirst for knowledge and answers. Alice begins her travels at the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School and ends the book on the Hill of Camstr ...more
Sep 12, 2011 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
Aug 22, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Mar 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads, memoir
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
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
I'm not sure why I didn't love this book, it seems to include all the right things: international travel, learning new things, and someone named Alice ;-). But, I found the 'education' part of it kind of boring and superficial - she just dabbled in things that people do in retirement to keep from getting bored; and even then she didn't seem to actually complete much - doing only a couple of weeks of a longer cooking course in Paris, coming without a manuscript to a writing workshop in Prague. He ...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
Feb 27, 2012 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
Jun 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book continues the adventures of author Alice Steinbach. Her first book, Without Reservations, introduced her as a single traveler, open to new people and new experiences. In Educating Alice, she travels with specific learning experiences planned. These trips lacked the serendipity of the earlier book, but were just as enjoyable. Recommended if you like travel and gentle adventures.
Dec 19, 2011 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.
May 15, 2015 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 24, 2017 marked it as to-read
Recommendation from Caro - 8/24/2017
I won't be finishing this one. I do not find Alice to be interesting. Her inner Dillon's put me to sleep. Sorry Alice.
Patti Irwin
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a reread. I remember the first time I read it, I felt like I was taking little mini-vacations. We used it for "mental health and wellness" for our Monday professional learning community. The idea was to read a chapter, discuss, and depending on our interests and expertise do enrichment activities related to the theme of that chapter. I wanted to do it because the sheepdog chapter would give us a good reason to bring our dogs and play outdoors with them. The French teacher taught us how ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well done. One woman's adventures around the world, learning as she goes: cooking, dancing, even sheep dog herding. I don't understand why she kept inserting her friend, Naohiro, into the story. Except for the time they spend together in Kyoto there's no point, he doesn't move the story along. She says they will meet up again in London but she doesn't include London in the book so we don't know what transpires there. If it's supposed to be a cliff hanger it doesn't work because we don't know eno ...more
Vicki Miller
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
Certainly expected more from this book. Having only been in Paris 6 months prior to picking up this book, I was excited to read about doorways and alleyways I had so fresh in my mind. The next venture to Japan was not quite as engaging, and I realised the story was a bit tedious. Finally decided to give it up as I wasnt getting the release I expect when I want to be lost in a book. Sorry guys. May have been able to provide a better rating / review if the book had held my attention - but life it ...more
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would love to run into Alice on some adventure. She sounds like great fun. Also kind, thoughtful, and genuinely interested in people, no matter where she meets them. This book is a series of essays about her travels, travels to places that interest her. Yes, she goes to universally cool places like the cooking school at the Ritz in Paris or a sheep farm in the Scottish Highlands. But, it's about the people she meets and her rapport and affection for these people that made me so happy after rea ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Never did finish this book. I loved Without Reservations, which convinced my to start traveling internationally on my own, so I couldn't wait to read this one. This book is so boring, tedious and long winded. I kept coming back to it trying to finish it, even attempting to scan it, but finally gave up at 80%.
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book! Think what Steinbach did was pretty awesome! She went to different cities to learn and experience topics that’s interested her. For example: in Paris she took a cooking class, and in Osaka she learned about geshia culture. The idea and action of this travel experience is great. Glad she took the time to write about it, and share it.
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Even though I finished it, I just couldn't get into this book. While the author's travel destinations and experiences were interesting enough, I didn't connect with her writing about those experiences. It felt more like a personal travel journal than an account to draw others into.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed it so much I'm in search of her other travel novel.
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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.
“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.” 76 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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