This is according to Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in a lecture to his students, “To Workers with Slender Apparatus” (Lectures To My Students, first series, p. 193).
Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and re-read them, masticate them, and digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times, and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books which he has merely skimmed, lapping at them, as the classic proverb puts it “As the dogs drink from Nilus.” (Ibid., emphasis mine)
I believe Spurgeon had me in mind when he wrote this. Since reading this I’ve actually altered my approach to reading. I was actually guilty of merely skimming books. I would read volumously but never really mastering any.
The number of books I devoured would make for interesting conversation over coffee, with friends. But I never bathed in them until they saturated me.
Now I’m more intentional in my reading. Thanks, Spurgeon–though dead you still speak.