It's been absolutely worth it for me. I love hearing people's stories, and to chat/gossip with the locals. Mastering Mandarin has let me learn many interesting things about people in my community.
For those looking for interesting things about characters, you might find artist/scholar Huang Yao's work from his scholarly period interesting. Actually, his whole life is an interesting tale. (I collaborated with this granddaughter to produce two children's books some time back.) Here is the link to his work on individual Chinese characters. http://www.huangyao.org/746.html I really like his WenZiHua http://www.huangyao.org/272.html&period=2&category=Paintings&keyword=Wenzi%20Hua%20%28Calligraphic%20Wenzi%20Hua%20/%20Picture%20Wenzi%20Hua%29