Writers and critics have always approached writing about reading differently. Most people are familiar with the latter group, which churns out stifling essays telling readers what to think, but rarely why. Editor J.C. Hallman suggests an alternative: the writers’ methodology. Writers come at the subject from an intensely personal perspective, incorporating their pasts and passions into the process of interpretation. In the pieces Hallman compiles here, some of the most important writers ever to live ponder some of the greatest books ever written. The essays are by turns funny, smart, suggestive, scathing, laudatory, poignant, and hopeful, and above all, deeply engaged in a process of careful reading. Together, they chart a trajectory that digs deep into the past and aims toward a future in which literature can play a new and more profound role in how we think, read, live, and write.