I recently read a really interesting article "The Dreams of Readers" from Nicholas Carr's blog www.roughtype.com. He wrote about what happens to our brains when we read a book:
"Psychologists and neurobiologists have begun studying what goes on in our minds as we read literature, and what they're discovering lends scientific weight to Emerson's observation. One of the trailblazers in this field is Keith Oatley, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Toronto and the author of several novels, including the acclaimed The Case of Emily V. "For a long time," Oatley told the Canadian magazine Quill & Quire, "we've been talking about the benefits of reading with respect to vocabulary, literacy, and these such things. We're now beginning to see that there's a much broader impact." A work of literature, particularly narrative literature, takes hold of the brain in curious and powerful ways. In his 2011 book Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction, Oatley explained that "we don't just respond to fiction (as might be implied by the idea of reader response), or receive it (as might be implied by reception studies), or appreciate it (as in art appreciation), or seek its correct interpretation (as seems sometimes to be suggested by the New Critics). We create our own version of the piece of fiction, our own dream, our own enactment." Making sense of what transpires in a book's imagined reality appears to depend on "making a version of the action ourselves, inwardly."