Every now and again I wonder why I'm doing this. Unfortunately I'm still not quite sure. My standard answer has been the I'm-running-a-marathon one -- just something kind of challenging you do to prove to yourself you can.
Also, when I'd see those books sitting in the upstairs hall not doing anything, it bugged me.
But am I learning anything? I'm reading all these classics, for God's sake. And my answer to that would be "no." Or, more precisely, "I don't know." I don't walk around feeling like I am the possessor of more knowledge, nor have I gained any philosophy that helps on a day when I'm feeling blue. It's pretty impractical, in other words. What I tell myself is that you never know when it might come in handy -- I'm like an antique collector who's just buying randomly -- this small green and brown thing could turn out to be a Vermeer (to steal a joke from Monty Python).
Over and above that there's just the discipline of having something to write every day (very helpful for the unemployed man); and the odd sensation, when I think about it, of knowing I have something to read, but not knowing what it's going to be, except that it was chosen for me in 1909.