It is not possible to answer this question. It is because the answer runs too fast. What most people talk about when they come to the shop is based on this question. But even after a half hour of trying to get to it, the answer just becomes bigger.
We don’t know why we read. Or why we choose these books and not those. Or why a book just didn’t do it, or wouldn’t let us in, or left us sitting still, or why a single sentence flames its way across the soft surfaces of our hopes and leaves a track.
Children get closest to it.
Everyone defends their stack.
Once a lady said that she and her husband have been reading in bed together every morning for the last sixty years, she with a good mystery, and he with all kinds, mostly Westerns. I remember them. After that day, they became regulars.
She contacted me recently for some Oscar Wilde. ‘He’ll get us through.’