Is the literary man to live always or chiefly sitting in a chamber through which nature enters by a window only? What is the use of the summer?
~ Henry David Thoreau, Journal
Such variations are observed among members of homo lectoris that an extra-planetary naturalist cataloging his divergent specimens might understandably question their inclusion in a single species. There are, for instance, some of a Manichaean sort who look to books for a preferred alternative to a cheerless world of sense. And then there are others (the superior sample, in my opinion) for whom books are themselves the stony or fibrous products of nature. Elsewhere in the Journal, Thoreau complains about having to go indoors at all to find a book. They ought, he felt, to be discovered outside growing up from the gnarled roots of oaks or the pebbly banks of a stream.