I think the E&Es are more like getting a headstart on the stretching before the marathon than a mile headstart, but that's just my opinion. I certainly don't think it will hurt in anyway, but the biggest help was probably just in giving you something to focus your energy on that was law related in the pre-amble to law school to give you piece of mind.
So, what would you read? The Gilberts sounds interesting based on the past comment that it ties things together. Does that mean it is more like a "survey course"?
The Gilberts is more or less a survey of the course. Basically it cuts the information into chapters and goes into length discussing the rules of the law, and gives examples of their applications. It does this in a large outline type form so that you can see how all the pieces fall together.
As someone mentioned,the E and E are best used for preping for finals. I used both of these books in addition to class work and problems. I do not know that they would be helpful if used alone without class content.
because i have nothing better to do with my life, i decided to stroll around the tulane bookstore today. the e&es, commercial outlines, and outlines of commercial outlines are all enormous. i question how thoroughly anyone can read these books on top of reading the cases, organizing class notes, and outlining. maybe i am overestimating the amount of work that i believe law school requires.
i write making the assumption that reading our casebooks and doing our own outlines are more important that reading and working through supplements, of course.
Although the supplemental books are long, you will be surprised at how helpful they are. In no way did I have time to read through each and every page, and as you go through the book, you will find that the book covers concepts you know and understand, and these become redundant. However, they do help to understand the more difficult concepts and to give you an edge in class discussion.
Also, it is a must to do your own outline and to start early. Looking at Gilberts or E and E is ok for reference, but you need to figure out how you memorize things and how things make sense in your head. No supplemental reading can do that for you. I know a few people who did not do their own outlines, and who did not keep up with it from the start and they really suffered.