The trick is to know which books to read.
When I reviewed Susan Jacoby's American Age of Unreason, I got a somewhat unexpected criticism: not so much that Jacoby was on-target in her worries about the use of the word "folks," but that I had no business agreeing that some thigns are better than others. Rather than reply immediately in the comments, I decided I'd bet better off replying in a series of blog posts.
This first post, I'll keep general. I want to point out that there are a couple things which can seem superficially an appropriate focus of life, yet pretty obviously aren't after a little reflection. A classic argument along these lines is Robert Nozick's "experience machine" thought experiment: would you take up an offer to plug in, for life, to a machine that would give you whatever good experiences you want? Most people say "no." An even worse answer than "good experiences" is "pleasure"--the idea of hooking up to electrodes to give a constant flow of intense pleasure isn't really all that far out, technologically speaking, but it's not something most people really want.
Once you accept that the truly good things in life are somewhat subtle, it becomes easy to see that it's worth putting effort into sorting out the truly good things from trash. Consider books, fiction or non-fiction (this is just an example, I'm hardly meaning to commit to anything on the value of books vs. TV or books vs. real world experience). In Cosmos, there's a great scene (in YouTube form at bottom of this post) where Sagan walks down the length of a few bookshelves, containing approximately as many books as a person could read in a lifetime. It's pretty good number, but it's only a fraction of the number contained in a good library. So assuming moderate variation in the quality of books, we've got good reason to be discerning. And this goes for TV shows and movies and websites and life experiences as much as books. Life's to short to watch "whatever's on."