How to Survive Your Studies, 1576

engraving of scholar at rotating book wheel Agostino Ramelli’s Book Wheel
Le diverse et artificiose machine (1588)

“Dear Ask the Past, I’m a grad student currently going through exam period and trying to stay focused… I was just wondering if maybe you have some advice from the past that could help me in this ordeal. Sincerely, A desperate student”

We see many great and painfull Studentes, still sitting at their Bookes, wythout taking any regard to their bodily health… Forasmuch therefore as the inwarde and native heate by exercyse and motion, is encreased & strengthened, and the mynde revyved and made lustyer: it standeth all Studentes uppon, and as many as be sickly & of wearish or quaysie health, to use themselves thereunto, and namely to such kinde of exercyse as bryngeth wyth it no wearysomnes or lassitude, but which is stayed within ye boundes of mediocrity: of which sort is a decent straynable and cleare voyce, and reading or declaming wyth a lowde and bigge sound, which is as expedient and as profitable a thing as any, to open ye breast, to stirre up the Spyrites, and to cleare the heart from all grosse and fulsome vapours.

Levinus Lemnius, The Touchstone of Complexions

Well, the bad news is that the grosse and fulsome vapours provoked by studying will mess you up if you don’t exercise. But the good news is that reading counts as exercise… if you do it with a lowde and bigge sound. This workout technique is sure to charm the other library patrons.