While Cooley’s relationship to literature has long been recognized in appraisals of his sociology, no previous study has systematically compiled his disparate ideas and compared them to other social approaches to the study of literature. The chapter begins with a discussion that seeks to emphasize the full scope and impact of Cooley’s novel understanding of communication. It especially considers Cooley’s thoughts on the multiple ways in which reading is a social activity. In his view, reading is an active attempt at forming imagined sympathetic contact with social others and to explore and develop one’s self through this experience of others. The second part of the chapter reflects on Cooley’s relationship to literary theories and the implications of Cooley’s work on literature for the practices of social science. The paper shows that, although social scientific and humanistic approaches to literature have largely ignored Cooley, he offers a thoroughly social perspective that can be compared with reader response and dialogical theories.