It matters because the ability to read challenging books helps make one more independent-minded. It encourages a way of thinking that is not a product of the mass media. It gives one the ability to think for oneself and entertain contrary opinions, and the freedom from dependence on Hollywood for a view of the world.
The literary culture is the last bastion of the individualist. Our society, our culture, even our economy depend on preserving free-thinking dissidents. And there is nothing that works better to free a mind from cant and superstition than to engage with the ideas of the world’s greatest writers.
— Diane Ravitch