This simple advice appears in the third chapter of Madhumita Lahiri’s Imperfect Solidarities: Tagore, Gandhi, Du Bois, and the Global Anglophone (132). It emerges from the pen of Jessie Redmon Fauset, the unsung coeditor of W. E. B. Du Bois’s periodical for young readers, The Brownies Book. What struck me as I read these simple rules is how flagrantly we tend to disobey them in the reading of an academic book: we skip only to the parts that seem most extractable, which means that we read in any order that suits us, and rarely finish. But, as Lahiri explains, to attend to these rules does more than assuage the vanity of the writer who has put the volume together. Instead, Fauset’s proposition reveals the “sociability of reading,” in which to read “is to follow the rules, so as to ‘have a game’ with other readers, writers, and editors of...

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