One life is not enough. Imagine how impoverished your experience would be if you were imprisoned, full-time, in your own consciousness; if the only people you knew were those you happened to have met; if the only era you knew about was the one in which you happened to have been born; if the only ideas you encountered were those current in your own culture. Reading takes you out of that prison. It puts you in direct contact with a myriad of other minds. It allows you to lead a myriad of lives.