The History of the (Whole) World

my progress as I write, revise, send to my editor, re-revise, fact-check, galley-read, and promote my books, including (but not limited to) a multi-volume history of the world. While living on a farm, educating my kids, and teaching. And doing a few other things too.

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The audio version of THE STORY OF (Western) SCIENCE is on its way!

June 10th, 2015 by Susan

Update: Norton has changed the title to The Story of Western Science. I had no control over this decision and am a little worried about what it will do to the book…but that’s what publishing is like.

And here’s the original post….

I just got this email from…

Dear Susan,

This is an alert that your audiobook, The Story of [Western] Science, is now available for pre-order at Listeners can buy your audiobook now, and when it releases on July 28, it will be in their libraries and available for download.

Here is the link to your audiobook:

Unfortunately, it still said “Narrator TBA,” so I asked who had been selected. And, just for you, here’s the answer…

Award Winning, British born, New York City actor Julian Elfer studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and the British Academy at Oxford University with master classes in Shakespeare with John Barton and Ben Kingsley. Julian spent 3 years under the supervision of British Director Frank Hauser (founder of the Oxford Playhouse) who brought such talents to the stage as Judi Dench, Richard Burton, and Ian Mckellen. As a working actor in New York City, Julian won the prestigious New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role for his portrayal of Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Julian studied with famed NYC Acting Coach Terry Schreiber at the T. Schreiber Studios. More recently, he starred as Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, directed by Cat Parker. New York stage credits include the role of Asher in the long running Off Broadway show Perfect Crime, the role of Moon in Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound (Gloria Maddox Theater), Austin Pendleton’s Orson’s Shadow (Midlantic Theatre Company), Poor Ophelia (New York Directors’ Guild), No Such Roses (New York International Fringe festival), and Coriolanus (ShakespeareNYC), to name a few. Other credits include roles in the film Reverie, The History Channel, several audiobooks, and the voice of Twinings Tea. In addition to being a working actor in NYC, Julian offers private acting classes in New York City’s Upper West Side. This includes one on one coaching and small groups.

So there you have it: My streak of having classically trained male Brits read the words of a home-educated female Virginian is undisturbed.

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Thanks, Booklist!

May 5th, 2015 by Susan

Booklist Reviews 2015 May #1

When Lucretius pondered the “ceaseless motion” of atoms, he inscribed ancient science in lapidary poetry. But Bauer identifies Lucretius as but one link in a long chain of gifted writers who have explored scientific horizons, even if they have not themselves done science. Beginning with Hippocrates’ distillation of Thales’ theorizing about water, Bauer introduces readers to the early Greek writers—including Aristotle and Archimedes—who first ventured rational accounts of natural phenomena. She then turns to the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century writers (including Bacon, Galileo, and Newton) who laid out their revolutionary investigative methodology. Finally, readers visit writers who have invited readers into the modern science explaining geology, biology, and the cosmos. To be sure, a world where scientists such as Lyell and Darwin could write for their colleagues in a language understood by a broader audience is gone. But so long as writers such as Hoyle, Weinberg, and even Einstein can still translate their work into the vernacular, general readers will share the intellectual adventure of science. An engaging compendium for serious science students.

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Reactions to The Story of Science begin to trickle in…

May 1st, 2015 by Susan

The official publication date for The Story of Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang is May 11, but copies already seem to be floating around/shipping from online retailers/generally available. (Read this to find out why publication date doesn’t matter.)

In any case, the “late pre-publication” reactions (i.e., not really early enough to be “industry” reviews, but still early enough to be classified as “pre-pub”…kind of like “No’-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock”…OK, I got lost in that parenthetical observation, but now I’m digging out) are starting to appear.

So, here are a few…

A Pick of the Month from Alan Caruba of the National Book Critics Circle. “This book connects the dots, positioning important scientific texts in both their historical and scientific contexts.”

A recommended title in Scientific American.

A Discover Magazine: Science for the Curious “What to Read in June” selection. “Bauer dumbs nothing down but makes complex topics comprehensible in just a few pages apiece.”

Library Journal says, “Bauer does an especially good job of reminding the reader which biological and geological theories were contemporaries of one another.” (Thank you, I worked hard on that.)

And Barnes & Noble calls the book “Science that refreshes.”

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I’m speaking nine times this summer, as long as you have an Internet connection…

March 16th, 2015 by Susan

In my ongoing effort to stay home and write more/travel less (and as part of my continual unhappiness with home education conferences), I’m trying out the online conference scene.

This summer, I’ll be giving three sets of mini-sessions (three workshops each) as part of the Well-Trained Mind Online Conference series. Have a look: This Isn’t as Easy as I Thought, Beyond Elementary School, and A Plan for Teaching Writing.

These conferences, which are sponsored by the Well-Trained Mind Academy, are an effort to give parents solid academic training without any other agenda. I’m delighted that so many fantastic speakers have joined in this initial effort, and am looking forward to future years with an even broader agenda.

Please visit the site and join us!

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KIRKUS reviews the Story of Science!

February 24th, 2015 by Susan

Note: W. W. Norton has now retitled the book “The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory.” 

The first big industry review of The Story of Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, just came out from Kirkus! “A bright, informative resource for readers seeking to understand science through the eyes of the men and women who shaped its history.”

Read the entire review here:

And, in case you didn’t know, the Well-Trained Mind Academy is offering a one year history and philosophy of science course, based on the book!

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If you’re the parent of a school student, I have a question for you.

February 20th, 2015 by Susan

And here it is.

If you’ve have had, or now have, your student(s) part- or full-time in a classroom situation. were you able to use any resources/techniques/ideas from home schooling to help you customize your child’s situation? In what ways did the idea of a parent-directed education make you able to take charge of the classroom setting? Or the reverse–did you decide to take a more hands-off approach?

For a long time, I’ve heard from “afterschoolers” who use the Well-Trained Mind approach to do one or more subject at home in addition to a traditional school curriculum, and I’m also interested in hearing from you.

I have a theory that the home schooling movement is having a “ripple” effect that stretches far beyond the realm of traditional home educators. I’m curious to see whether I’m right.

You can post your stories here, or at our message boards (see the thread here) or, (if you’d rather be more private), you can email your thoughts to [email protected]

Thanks, gentle readers!

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And the winners are…

January 15th, 2015 by Susan

Julie from Trinity, NC, home schooling this year for the first time and using classical methods

Debbie from Florida, mother of two girls, aged ten and eleven

Tabitha from Florida, a reader of The Well-Trained Mind

Jennifer from Alabama, home schooling mom of three

Janie from Texas, a “decade-long fangirl”

Sheila from Victoria, who blogs at Greenridge Chronicles

Susie and John, “adjunct faculty and former homeschoolers, classical education fans and wannabe homesteaders”

Congratulations! You should see those galleys early next week. And thanks for playing, everyone.

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The drawing is complete!

January 11th, 2015 by Susan

I am so grateful for everyone who posted to the galley give-away contest, and I wish I had many more copies to distribute! I did dig up a couple more, so we drew eight names from the 776 comments below (778 total, one was from me, one was a duplicate). An email has gone out to the winners, and as soon as we get confirmation from all eight, we’ll post the results.

ADDENDUM: If you entered, check your spam folder! I’m still waiting to hear back from a winner or two.

And for the rest of the entries…I really want to give everyone SOMETHING! Stay tuned and I’ll arrange a couple of other giveaways this spring. Many, many thanks.

More soon,

Susan (enjoying this great start to the New Year)

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Galley Giveaway!

January 4th, 2015 by Susan

I am thrilled to report that the galleys (prepublication copies) of The Story of Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory have arrived!

Front cover

And I’d like to share them with you! Post a comment here before midnight on Friday, January 9, and I’ll enter your name into a random drawing for a galley. I’ve got six to give away.

Back cover

Hope to see your name here soon…

(By the way, comments have to be approved before they appear–this keeps the spam away! So if you don’t see your comment immediately, be patient. As long as your user name isn’t “NFL Jerseys” or “Watch Online Free!”, you’ll get past the moderation queue shortly…)

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Writing in fish mode

November 28th, 2014 by Susan

In nonfiction publishing, you typically sell your publisher a promise–an outline, a few sample chapters, and a deadline by which you plan to have the project finished. Writing under contract is good for publishers, who can begin to plan out their lists a few years in advance, as well as providing feedback on projects in process. It’s good for writers because we get some money up front to keep us from starving while we lock ourselves in our offices to write–and we don’t spend years on a manuscript that nobody really wants to publish.

For the last fifteen years, I’ve been writing under contract. I’m lucky that I have contracts. I’m lucky that people want to read what I write. I’m lucky that I can make a living this way.

It’s just that I’ve done big project after big project after big project, almost always behind deadline. (I used to suggest a deadline when I signed a contract. Then I started settling on a deadline and doubling the time. Then I started doubling the time and adding six months. I still never finish anything within the time frame on the contract.) It’s wearing, because when I’m behind I feel that I can’t afford to stop and reflect on what I’m doing. It’s not great for creativity, because you don’t have the luxury of rebooting if a book starts to go in an unexpected direction. It leads to late nights, early mornings, not enough exercise, and too much high-calorie comfort food.

So about a year ago, I promised myself that when I hit my last big deadline, I wouldn’t sign another contract immediately. Instead, I decided to take six months and just write. Go down to my office and work on anything that struck my fancy. Read, reflect, experiment, let my horizons expand.

I’ve been looking forward to this six months. Can’t even tell you how much.

The six months started the first week of October. I have until the end of March to read, reflect, and experiment.

And I hate it. I have about eight different projects I want to do, and I can’t seem to make headway on any of them. I am in total fish mode.


“Fish mode” is a phrase my husband invented a few years ago to describe the kind of progress you make on a project when you go one way for a little bit, and then turn around and go the other way, and then swim a little to the left, and then a little to the right. I don’t like fish mode. It wastes time and energy. It isn’t gratifying in the slightest.

And even though I thought I hated them, I miss my deadlines. They keep me focused. They force me to carve out bottom-in-the-chair, fingers-on-the-keyboard time. They force everyone else to work around my writing time (because, after all, I have to get that writing done by the deadline).

I’m going to stick out my six months. I’m not going to send anything to my editor or agent, or promise anything to my Peace Hill Press readers, until March 31 has come and gone. I suspect something useful and important is going on in my non-deadlining brain, even though I don’t appear to be making any particular progress.

But this “break” is oddly stressful. Fish mode, as it turns out, is exhausting.

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The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory

November 15th, 2014 by Susan

Story of Western Science_978-0-393-24326-0.inddNote: this book was originally published as “The Story of Science,” but my publisher has now changed the title to “The Story of Western Science.”

“Far too often, issues based on science are decided by voters and politicians who have received their science secondhand. The Story of Science guides us back to the original texts that have changed the way we think about our world, our cosmos, and ourselves.” My latest book for W. W. Norton, The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, now has a pub date: May 2015.

This has been a wonderful project–a chronological walk through the greatest discoveries of science, organized around the books that brought those discoveries to the world. You can read the full description at W. W. Norton’s online catalog page, The Story of Western Science. (Norton does the most intriguing, insightful book covers ever, by the way. Can you see what makes this one perfect for a story that stretches from the ancient astronomers to modern cosmologists?)

Visit the Table of Contents here (manuscript version) for more detail, or have a look at the Foreword, which lays out the book’s purpose.

More news forthcoming shortly about a new Fall 2015 release, plus a brand-new and INCREDIBLY FASCINATING project. Sign up for my email notification list to stay in touch.

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Writing, writing, writing

April 9th, 2014 by Susan

…by which I mean not so much that I’m writing (although that’s mostly what I do, when I’m not sheep-herding or stall-cleaning), but that I’ve just finished up a big project about writing. The third volume of Writing With Skill, our pre-rhetoric program, is finally polished off and in production.

I’ve had a number of requests for the Table of Contents from educators who are planning their next year, so here it is: Writing With Skill, Level III, TOC. (I uploaded it as a PDF, for your convenience, so when you get to the next page, click on the title one more time.)

If you use Writing With Ease or Writing With Skill, also be sure to check out my updated recommendations here.

(And if you’re wondering why I haven’t been blogging so much recently, I’ve kind of come around to this way of thinking. And have been putting most of my energies towards other kinds of writing.)

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