The original book is, of course, the world itself. People in all cultures read that book. Especially people without writing. Especially hunter-gatherers, who study the great book day after day, night after night. People who have writing make their own books—little models of the world—and often study those instead, as if their little books were somehow more correct or more important than the book in whose immense, detailed pages we all live. In the twentieth century, replete with comforts such as central heating and air conditioning, and awash in printed books and magazines, films, cassettes and compact discs and nonstop broadcasts on TV, a lot of people ceased to read the original book. In the course of the same century, most people came to live in cities, under constant artificial sound and light. Many now have never seen the night sky, the grasslands in the spring, the hardwood forests in the fall, the taiga or the tundra or the desert or the mountains, except as pictures on TV or printed images in magazines or illustrated books. When people raised this way read books, their reading is untested in a way. It hasn’t been calibrated against the original book.

Robert Bringhurst, “The Voice in the Mirror”, in The Tree of Meaning: Thirteen Talks