Scott Esposito has a good post (including the subsequent conversation) about the reasons for reading at his blog, Conversational Reading:
“Perhaps the best way to get at this is to talk about approach. I approach these books for my pleasure, not my improvement. However, the pleasure of the text is inextricably bound up with the text saying interesting things — not only interesting in the dramatic sense like “what’s going to happen after Hester gets the scarlet letter put on her”, but also interesting in the cereberal sense that the text is bringing something more than a well-told story.
“What is all comes down to is that it’s not utilitarian because I’m doing this for my fun and I’m willing to take the chance that I won’t “get something out of it”. In fact, I don’t expect to get anything out of literature like I expected to get something out of my college text books (and this may explain why I found some of them so damnably dull). What I do expect is that for however long I’m reading the book, it is going to hold my interest, both with good characters, writing, drama, and with interesting thoughts that will necessarily extend into the real world to some degree.”