Do you think reading literary novels is important?

This is not a rhetorical question. I really need help with this. I was asked this question on HearSay with Cathy Lewis, and I explained why I felt it is important for me to read literature, but because of my job and deep personal connection to literary works, my response did not cover people in general. I do not argue that there is a hierarchy, with literary novels ranked number one. I, too, enjoy reading nonfiction.

My best friend has a Ph.D. in reading and teaches reading in an elementary school in Georgia, so I asked him. He thought reading literature during adulthood is important because it exercises the imagination and visualization. He also felt that literary novels offer the opportunity to use the right brain in a way that nonfiction might not. Does anyone read literary novels anymore? Does reading literary novels matter at all?