this entry on Nathan Bransford's blog. Nathan posed the question, "If you could pick one fictional world/setting/time period to live in, which one would it be?"
I pondered for a while what my response would be, and as I ran through my mental list of things I've read, I was overwhelmed all over again with what a wonderful thing reading is. Forget about the wonderful characters I've met through my reading -- my mental life has been greatly enriched by reading about places, real and imagined, and times past, present and future. I can't put an exhaustive list here, but how great is it to be able to drop in on post-WWII Germany (The Ark by Benary-Isbert), or the Musengezi River in Zimbabwe (A Girl Named Disaster by Farmer), or District 12 (The Hunger Games by Collins), or 17th-century London (I've been there several times with different guides), or Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century (my current trip - The King of Mulberry Street by Napoli), or, of course, Hogwarts Castle. I can visit Johnson County (where I really live) during the American Civil War (Nancy Dane's books).
I left a comment on Nathan's blog saying I would like to visit pre-electrical times, but there's another benefit of reading: I can visit those pre-electrical times while sitting in an air-conditioned house drinking tea with ice cubes in it. I can go to 17th-century London without worrying about contracting black death, or to revolutionary Lexington without being shot at.
Of course, sometimes I wish Hogwarts was real and I could go learn how to do that "scourgify" command.....