“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
Why read? Why spend hours and hours when your face stuck in a book?
One benefit of reading is that it gives us perspective.
We spend so much time in our own heads, stuck in rigid patterns of thinking. To save mental energy, we naturally tend to get set in our views. It's stressful to remain open at all times, keeping your mind flexible and receptive.
But reading forces you to jump out of your brain, and into the perspectives of others. A book gives you the opportunity to see the world through someone else's eyes. Every character in a book could be a window into another world.
We all have movies going on in our minds. These movies are the way in which we process and interpret the world. If we stubbornly cling to these movies, then we only have a narrow view of the world.
This is how books can make us more empathetic. After reading a good book, I'll often find myself saying something like "I've never thought of it that way before." or "That's an interesting point of view or way to live".
Readings expands our perception of how we could think and live. There are thousands of interesting and inspiring characters out there, representing thousands of possibilities.
And this isn't to say that all books are good, or that a book is inherently better than other mediums of art.
But there are some great works out there, fiction and non-fiction, and all kinds of genres.
Sometimes I feel restless while reading. It might feel like a waste of time. I might think that I should be out living instead of at home reading. (Although you could always read in somewhere like a park or coffee shop, for the social element.)
But I should think of it like this: a good book can enrich your life in powerful ways. So it's not a waste of time, if the book could inspire you to change your life in some way.
Maybe a travel writer inspires you to take an adventure, or a memoir helps you appreciate your relationships in new ways.
So reading isn't a waste of time...in fact, in could help you save time if it inspires you to take a new direction in your life.