Absolutely necessary to read literature. Literature is a bridge to communication and understanding in classrooms both in college and high school. Literature shows us characters and their problems, so it provides both entertainment and guidance. We learn how other people experience life issues and how they deal with such. Let's not forget to mention the fact that literature provides entertainment, escape, and other qualities that make life more enjoyable.
Yes, it is necessary. Reading literature often opens doors to experiences and perspectives that we might not ever have the chance to encounter otherwise. And through those vicarious experiences, we become wise, enlightened, and--at least ideally--more compassionate human beings. Life would not be nearly as rich as it is without literature.
Every time I read a piece of literature, I learn more about the world. While I can't physically experience what it is like to live in a different time, different skin, or different gender, good literature allows us to do so through the pages of a book. Reading has always been such a huge part of my life, and has enriched my life and changed my personality by allowing me to see from different perspectives and learn from the lives of the characters I read about. Is literature necessary? I think it is. It opens our eyes, expands our mind, and teaches us countless lessons.
I cannot imagine going through life not reading good books -- I don't mean any old books, I mean GOOD books. When I think of all the great people I have met in books I can't help but smile -- Atticus? Elizabeth Bennet? Hester? Huck? Where else can I go to travel to these places and these circumstances and see life from a new perspective? Reading takes more time and seems more intimate than film, and while I love movies and television, the mind has more connection with the printed word. I love fostering this attitude in my students each year -- sometimes I can convert a non-reader, and then I know I have changed someone for the better.
Literature makes my life richer, deeper, and more satisfying. It demonstrates the best and worst of human nature in the form of characters I consider to be my friends--or at least people I know well. I've watched them be heroic and and I've seen their hopes dashed and I've seen them rise above their circumstances. I"m inspired by their sacrifices and their failures and their hopes. It's the difference between color and black and white--both depict life, but color brings joy. I can live without literature, of course--but I don't want to.
I'm going to go with a completely personal answer on this one, as I believe this topic has been brought up on eNotes before...
I have connected with the handful of my very best friends over books. Whether literature brought us together, or solidified our friendship, for me, reading is something that truly defines the people I will become the closest to and those who will simply forever be "acquaintences." Call it an elitist complex - it probably is.
Literature has the ability to show us sides of ourselves, issues of life, and subjects which we may never experience on our own. By experiencing them through books, we can SHARE them with others - virtually anyone - who are simply willing to put in the time.
I also happen to like it that those of us true literature snobs are few and far between... it saves time in the long run - I mean, think of all the meaningless small talk we get to avoid.
Years ago Adele Davis wrote a book on nutrition entitled, You Are What You Eat. Likewise, you are what you read. In literature there are countless moral lessons that people learn as well as find comfort. As with all the fine arts, there is a spiritual nourishment that comes from them. Fine poetry, the unique expression of feeling, feeds the soul of the writer as well the reader, for the poet gives expression to the reader's feelings as well. How often have people read literary works and exclaimed, "How beautiful! That is just how I have felt."
From literature, also, there is an understanding that one gleans of human nature. This understanding aids people in dealing with others in their lives. We may not all have met a Madame Defarge but we have had to deal with some Scrooges and Bob Fagins. And, our sympathies are aroused for others by remembrance of such poignant characters as Tess of the D'Ubervilles, Jane Eyre, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Boo Radley.
Clearly, literature enriches our lives, instructing us and providing us tremendous enjoyment--often escape--and comfort as well. Is it necessary? It is as necessary to some as music is to the musician and art to the artist--all feed the soul.