This book collects three lectures by the master. The first, "Of Kings' Treasuries" is on the subject of how to read and treasure books. The second, "Of Queens' Gardens", contains the author's reflections on the proper education of girls. The third, "The Mystery of Life and Its Arts", is a manifesto of aestheticism and the Social Gospel.
Ruskin is, as always, more of a passionate rhetor than a consistent systematic thinker. His ideas are sometimes bizarre - he supported a set of sartorial laws restricting certain kinds of clothing to certain classes. Other ideas are now out of fashion - his plans for suburban garden cities. His central themes, however - the importance of beauty, the necessity of charity, and the moral benefits of work - are what make his work immortal.