"To understand a profound thought is to have, at the moment one understands it, a profound thought oneself; and this demands some effort, a genuine descent to the heart of oneself . . . Only desire and love give us the strength to make this effort. The only books that we truly absorb are those we read with real appetite, after having worked hard to get them, so great had been our need of them." Reading was, for Marcel Proust, more than the pursuit of knowledge: a truly spiritual activity, it was a means of transforming and transcending the self. By reading great authors, he contends, we not only learn of great ideas, but are enriched by the fruits of the world’s most inspirational minds.