Everyone enjoys reading for different reasons. At some level, I think many of us enjoy observing and listening to others as they travel through life. Reading fiction is a fantastic way to do this. Stories are magical treasures that give us permission to check out what others are doing, listen in to what they are saying, and hear what's going on in someone's head. In real life, you can never really know what someone is thinking. You might think you can, but you actually can't. Thanks to story authors, you can.
When I pick up a book, I feel like I'm holding an invitation to enter a whole world I would otherwise never have known existed. I'm privileged to have permission to enter into the lives of characters I can visit and revisit whenever I like. Time of day or night doesn't matter and, unlike when visiting people in real life, I needn't worry about whether I'm dressed right or whether I'm running late.
The time that I need to be ready by is infinitely flexible and getting ready includes as much or as little preparation as I choose. It generally only depends on how warm, cold, hungry or thirsty I am. I'm a no fuss special guest of the book, not required to expend energy but to simply look, listen, absorb, enjoy.
I love how real characters can be and how I feel I actually know them once I've been privy to their story. I delight in quirky things, like their mannerisms and habits, and I form a relationship of sorts with them and their author. Reading their story, their words, links me to them in a most unique way. And it isn't only what's in their story that counts, but also what it brings out in me and what it enables me to see in the world or myself that I may not have seen so clearly before.
After I close the book and leave characters behind, not only do they and their stories stay with me, I'm convinced that their world will go on from the story I've just finished. Only part of their story has been told. They can't possibly only exist in that selection of pages, can they? They had a life before page one and, though I may never be privy to it, their life will continue beyond the last page.
The best stories distract, comfort, make me laugh, bring out tears, blow me away, or reinforce that all can be well. Reading brings so much to me and connects me with life in ways that could not have been at all physically possible in only one lifetime. That's why I read as often as I can.