You’ve heard people (including me?) say things like this before, but Ellen Ullman’s articulation here is particularly good—maybe the best:
I think that literature—essays, stories, poems—is the one form where we can meet, imagination to imagination, without hosts of people in between, no directors and actors and set designers and so on. The medium itself is fairly transparent. You don’t need equipment or electrical outlets. You can go off alone to read, and, if the work is good, you are then intensely close to other human beings.