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Esperanto has been around for nearly 150 years and it was primarily learned by well-educated people (including Tolkien, Tolstoy etc.), so by now you can find A TON of books in Esperanto, more so than in African languages with 50x the number of speakers. Consider this Concise Encyclopedia of the Original Literature of Esperanto (https://www.amazon.com/Concise-Encyclopedia-Original-Literature-Esperanto/dp/1595690905/)
which on 740 pages features just short entries on the main authors of each school of literature. There are also web radio stations and podcasts and Twitch streams and so on.
>better communication with a group of people, access to a new body of literature, or, as is usually the case, both. Esperanto provides none of these (basically everyone in the tiny Esperanto community speaks English).
This is simply not true. When I was at the World Esperanto Congress in Beijing, almost nobody spoke passable English. Same on my trip through Japan. Also, Esperanto does give you access to a huge new body of original literature - bigger than e.g. Yoruba literature even though Yoruba has 10x the number of speakers.
One of the reasons that people write prose in a foreign language is that this allows the writer to take some psychological distance when relating painful personal experiences. One of my favourite novels in Esperanto, "Fajron sentas mi interne", is the most personal semi-autobiographic book I've ever read in any language, and the author (a German who learned Esperanto at the age of 20) paid another person to translate the book from Esperanto to German because it would have been too painful to deal with all the experiences without the shield of a foreign language. The same is certainly also true of Hungarian author Tivadar Soros' book "Maskerado ĉirkaŭ la morto", originally written in Esperanto and later published in English as "Masquerade: The Incredible True Story of How George Soros' Father Outsmarted the Gestapo".
Almost all Esperanto+ writers learned the language as adults. Esperanto has a comparatively small number of word roots but allows these to be used very creatively through an extensive affix system (similar to agglutinating languages), so a lot of writers and non-writers enjoy playing with the language. For example, you can literally create a word that means "a beach where mostly ugly people go", it's malbelulejo.
+ No snide comments please - there is enough literature in Esperanto to have a 740-page "Concise Encyclopedia of the Original Literature of Esperanto" written about it, covering the different schools of literature and their main representatives and so on.
The other day I realised that Esperanto is in the top 10% or probably even top 5% of languages worldwide, no matter whether you consider speakers, literature or Youtube content.
How? There are around 7000 languages worldwide, so to "top 10%" means that less than 700 languages have better stats.
Speakers: It is hard to get a solid estimate of how many people learned Esperanto, but the three Duolingo Esperanto courses had around 3 million learners altogether. (Right now Duolingo has switched to showing you only the currently active learners, but I can find screenshots of the earlier complete statistics if necessary.) There are a lot of people who learned Esperanto before Duolingo, but let's call it 3 million. Where does that rank in terms of the languages of the world? We don't have a direct source, but we can give a range: for the lower bound, the CIA Factbook asserts that "there are estimated to be just over 7,151 languages spoken in the world (2022); approximately 80% of these languages are spoken by less than 100,000 people", so Esperanto is very very easily in the top 20%. For the upper bound, there is the list of 200 most spoken languages and apparently you need something like 4 million speakers in order to be in this list (Swati is language #188 with 4.7 million speakers), and the list is for 200 / 7000 = top 2.8% of the world's languages. So Esperanto (and Lithuanian, which has a similar number of speakers) are not in the top 2.8% of languages in terms of speakers, but they are probably in the top 5%, definitely top 10%.
Literature: considering that there is this 740 page encyclopedia of original literature in Esperanto which goes into the different schools and so on, it's easy to prove that Esperanto has a vast corpus of original literature, probably more than, say, the above-mentioned Swati. Apart from attempts in the Soviet Union, China and Vietnam to make Esperanto the lingua franca of the world's workers, the Esperanto community has always skewed towards university-educated people, including famous writers like Tolstoy and Tolkien. Compare that to language communities in the Global South, where most people were illiterate until the 1960s or even later, and even now the educated elite tends to write in the colonizer's language. In 100 years, these languages may have overtaken Esperanto in terms of original literature production, but if you're looking for interesting reading material right now...
Youtube: there are vast numbers of lectures, concert and other music videos, short films, audiobooks, stories for children, and so on. When you upload a video, Esperanto is one of only 214 languages that Youtube lets you select as the video language, so again, probably closer to the top 5% rather than top 10% of languages.
I learned it purely for propaedeutic reasons and never expected I'd be using it as much as I am!
Incidentally, there is a crazy Fastest C1 Ever Challenge (for Esperanto) that might interest some of you.
I found Esperanto quite useful for propaedeutic reasons: even though I learned it as my 5th language, it was super helpful in a) showing me how much I could achieve in self-study and b) letting me understand some features of Swahili grammar, Indonesian grammar, Arabic grammar etc. later in life. And as a secret language with my partner later.
My partner was one of very few people who learned Esperanto for purely practical considerations: he had just graduated and wanted to spend a year backpacking around the world. Rather than learn the language of every country he'd travel to, he just learned Esperanto, and that opened up the homes of Esperanto speakers everywhere, so he mostly stayed for free with locals, often got guided tours of the city and saw some incredible stuff that tourists don't see. This was through Pasporta Servo, which is present in cities around the world. He also later volunteered for some Esperanto organisations, got free trips to most of Europe and even Taiwan and Japan... I myself also got something like 12 free trips including to China because of Esperanto, and some work projects, but if you're looking for a language to get a lifelong job, Esperanto is probably not it.
For OP, given he's not so keen on using Esperanto to talk to fellow Esperanto speakers anymore and thus cannot use Esperanto for travel, an interesting off-ramp (so his study wasn't in vein) could be to just dedicate himself to reading in Esperanto. There are a ton of books originally written in Esperanto.
In fact there is a movement called Raŭmismo within the Esperanto world whose adherents want to use Esperanto just in order to enjoy the culture, they completely renounce the original goal of having Esperanto as a lingua franca and in fact they believe that it would be a shame if Esperanto now achieved its original goal because that would imply huge changes to the current culture. (To help you understand: imagine that everyone including your grandma started using Reddit. Yes growing Reddit is probably seen as desirable by most. Having everyone use it? Not so much.)
Most of the other answers give a misleading impression - there isn't just one or two books only in Esperanto, but tens of thousands :) For context, the 'Concise' Encyclopedia of the Original Literature of Esperanto runs to 740 pages. There are several hundred works published each year, and there is a dedicated monthly magazine just to Esperanto literature.
Esperanto has existed since 1887, and although most of the early works were translations (the creator Zamenhof believed it was the best way to make sure the language could be as expressive as a natural one, e.g. the entire works of Shakespeare, the Bible etc are all available in Esperanto), there are original works dating from them. I'm not an Esperanto literature expert, but particularly after WWI there was a flowering of works, with Esperanto really coming into its own as a literary language.
As /u/Lancet mentioned, the 'baza legolisto' de Auld is a great start. Here is a link to it which lets you click on each book in turn and see information and read reviews of it.
Otherwise if you already know some Esperanto and are looking for recommendations, I really enjoyed La Fotoalbumo by Trevor Steele. It tells the story of an Australian family from the 1930s to 1970s, with each chapter being the description of a photo in their photoalbum.