I'm thoroughly enjoying "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi. In it, she quotes a sentence from Nabokov—"curiosity is insubordination in its purest form." I love this. Curiosity is why I read and write. Curiosity is what compels me to track how meat winds up between the two halves of a bun, and how potatoes have co-evolved with human beings. Curiosity is why I want to read about genetic engineering and the workings of a seed. Why not? And if this is insubordination, well, that’s all the more reason to question like crazy.
Nafisi also writes about how novels are inherently anti-totalitarian because they encourage readers to practice empathy. A good novel will evoke empathy by inviting a reader into another's skin, and a compassionate reader will generally not become a fascist.
This gives me such pride and hope. These are the best reasons I can think of to read and write fiction.