RACHEL MCMILLAN: What I love most is that split second when you start to slowly fall for a book and realize that within its pages you have a new kindred spirit and a world to revisit any time you want. In the same hour, I can traipse across the globe, slip back centuries and fall in love. Books are my dearest friends. They are also the portal through which I learn to empathize with the world in constantly surprising ways.

MELANIE DICKERSON: I love reading because it takes me from my present circumstances into a more exciting time and place. Reading also illustrates the connectedness of the human experience, as we relate to the emotions and the reactions of the characters in the story, feeling empathy for them. And I always learn something, such as historical facts, or even something I hadn’t realized about myself. Best of all, I am sometimes drawn closer to the Lord as I experience what the character is learning, such as how to trust God more.

SUSAN SLEEMAN: Life is fast-paced. Hurry, hurry, hurry. It can seem overwhelming if I don’t take time to decompress. A good book allows me to savor page after page of beautiful writing and be swept away in another world where I don’t have to think about deadlines, dirty dishes, or even the zillion emails in my Inbox. I meet characters who soon become friends. I can cheer for them. Cry with them. Rejoice with them. And when the characters are well-developed, I can also learn how to deal with my own issues. What could be better than that?

MELODY CARLSON: Besides my general love of the written word and the acquisition of knowledge, I love reading (fiction in particular) simply because it takes me away. I love being transported to another place or another time. I can really appreciate the transportive power of story this winter. We got 60 inches of snow that’s taking forever to leave! So when cabin fever sets in, a literary getaway is most welcome!

PAUL REGNIER: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been drawn to stories. They set my imagination free like nothing else. When you find a book that transports you to another place, a place so immersive that for a moment you lose the sense of your physical surroundings, it’s an amazing experience. There have been moments in movies or TV shows that hinted at that feeling but never at the depth or holding power that a book produces. Simply put, something about the experience of reading is magic.

DANA MENTINK: I love reading because it allows me to dive into worlds, situations, experiences that I would never be able to participate in real life. FF