Serious reading, after all, should be active, focused, engaged—and Cooper suggested some ways to make it so.

First, read aloud—at least some of the time. “Every line of Shakespeare, every line of Milton, is meant to be pronounced, cannot be duly appreciated until it is pronounced.”

Second, read slowly. “Take ample time. Pause where the punctuation bids one pause; note each and every comma; wait a moment between a period and the next capital letter. And pause when common sense bids you pause, that is, when you have not understood.”

This led to the third dictum: “Read suspiciously. Reread. What a busy man has time to read at all, he has time to read more than once.”

Elsewhere, he added another piece of advice: Learn by heart at least a few poems and passages of prose.