There are many people who believe that stories are simply entertainment; that the entire value of a story is wrapped up in its ability to pass time and curtail boredom. That is not the true value of a story though, at least not the complete value.
The real value of a story is its ability to reveal things to us about humanity, good and evil, and even ourselves. More importantly though the true value of a story is that it has the power to change our thinking. We can suddenly see from different perspectives, to consider things we may have felt were impossible. Stories help us see the world as though it is brand new again, without the social constraints and preconceived notions of the present day. We can look at things differently because we are separated from the part of our mind which takes things for granted, or which has become jaded over the course of life because of all the difficulties that are so often thrust upon us.
So the real value of a story is that it makes us remember. We remember the smell of apple pie, the way our mouths begin to water ever so slightly at the thought of semi-crisp apples, warm tender crust, and the dark flecks of cinnamon throughout which give our taste buds a little punch. We remember the stories of leprechauns and how we used to believe that there was a real pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
We remember the pleasure of the scent of fresh air and earthiness right after a rain. We can feel the fine mist of walking too near a waterfall, and the occasionally larger drops of water that entice us to move closer, or perhaps further away.
Stories, whether verbal or written, are humanity itself. It is our collective thoughts, emotions, shared experiences and hopes. Without stories we would not be reminded to of honor, courage, and belief in the impossible. Without stories, hope would be lost and the world would lose all its color because we would cease to remember that everything is so amazing.
Books are not just about passing the time. They are about remembering the past, remembering ourselves, and remembering to live. To me, stories are priceless and treasured.