This is an important question, since I would not be surprised, if many people are asking the same question. Here are a few reasons why I think literature is very important:
1. Literature challenges your mind to think. On the most fundamental level, it exercises your mind. You grow in intelligence. This is reason enough to read.
2. Literature opens your mind to look at things from a different perspective. If you don't read, the fact is that you will be narrow in your thinking. In a world that is global, reading enables you to appreciate more and look at things from other people's points of view.
3. Literature also enable you to enter into different worlds. You can experience new things and these things can shape your life and make you into a better person.
The relevance of literature is in the lesson about life that it gives to someone after reading it. If it calls to you with one of its timeless themes, or makes you to think about your situation or someone else's then it has done its purpose: to survive with a message.
This definitely is a very important question! And, I think that many people are asking this question. I agree with the prior posts as to what literature is and must say that I am fortunate to be a lover of books. I have 2 children. One who loves to read and one who hates to read. So, yes, I can almost guarantee that people are asking, "What is the relevance of literature". To add to the prior posts, literature is also relevant as it defines many things. It not only merely separates us (humans) from other species, but it documents, creates, explains, embraces, challenges, and gives (the list could go on). Basically, what I'm trying to say that without literature we, as a society, would continue to wonder, re-create, re-invent, struggle, and ask why over and over again about a myriad of *things*. Literature is a gift that should be embraced, or at the very least appreciated . . .
For myself, literature is the best teaching tool for history, anthropology, geograpy, and sociology I have. Facts go straight out of my head as fast as I regurgitate them for whatever test. However, give me a book about Afganistan, like The Kite Runner, or a novel that takes me into the world of internalized racism, like The Bluest Eye, and I will remember not only the plot lines and characters, but also the cultural and sociological aspects that undergird the story.