This book, On The Art of Reading, by Quiller-Couch, is a chain of 12 essays strung together on a common theme—lectures for undergraduates—just like his Art of Writing. In his talks On The Art of Reading Quiller-Couch set himself the job of discussing not only the art but also the practice as it applied to English literature. He analyzes the ground upon which an author and a reader meet. What are the necessary equipment and technique? He examines the question, Can reading the best literature be taught, and if so how much? Granting that it can be taught, is it, and, if so, how is it, a fit subject for examination? He begins by observing the paradox that reading English, though compulsory for Englishmen, has been made nearly impossible in English schools.
Quiller-Couch defines English literature as "that which sundry men and women have written memorably in English about Life."