MONSIEUR Proust’s Library is based on a talk that the author, Anka Juhlstein, was asked to give at the New York Society Library in 2011. “How did Proust read?” it begins. “As a child, like all of us: for the plot and characters. But even at a very young age, reading was for him a very serious business, and he was outraged by the fact that it could be considered by grownups as something one did to amuse oneself.” It was such a serious business that by the time he was a schoolboy, friends said that Proust had read everything and forgotten nothing. Reading, Proust felt, was a far richer experience than mere social life.