Although billed as a collection, this series of essays holds its own as an extended monologue. Davies, as erudite a reader and writer as you will ever discover, is not for the faint of head. In his argument here, he attempts to describe why reading--intense, concentrated reading--can be valued as art. The likely argument against this idea is that reading is not an act of creation, which art aspires to. He quickly deflates that argument with a description of reading that could apply just as well to performance art.
Although some of the writers he mentions here will likely be unknown to modern readers (they were certainly unusual to me), the points he makes are universal. We are in need of this even more today than when it was written.