This paper describes an initiative within the final year of the MEng Chemical Engineering programmes at the University of Manchester, in which students were required to identify a suitable book, broadly related to chemical engineering, and read it and be assessed on it. Meanwhile a similar number of academic staff also read the books in order to prepare the assessments. The reading was supported by a programme of lectures and discussion groups to engage students with the book as a concept and with the nature of reading more generally, in order to enhance and empower their own reading. The examination included assessment of these generic aspects as well as the students' technical mastery of their specific books. Feedback on this initiative was extremely positive as a refreshing alternative to traditional forms of teaching and learning employed in chemical engineering, and as encouraging enhanced skills in communication and greater empowerment to read as the basis for lifelong learning.