Of the other two books, one was the greatest novel ever written - Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary. The third was Tolstoy's War and Peace, but here it was really the character of Pierre that had made an impact.
I read Proust in the Scott Moncrief translation, Remembrance of Things Past. A better translation has now come in, In Search of Lost Time - it's more accurate. The point about memory that Proust teaches us is that almost all of us can recover it if we try hard enough. When we're living in the present, everything goes by so fast that we're not aware of 90 per cent of what actually happens. But if you can reconstruct, then you can almost relive your own past. Proust also reminds me that the subject of literature is really the most ordinary things - the scent of soap is as important as a philosophical discourse. What Proust brings me is the importance of celebrating life, seizing the moment. Living in the present is very difficult. We're always living in the future, or in the past.
I often go downstairs to the library when I have half an hour to spare, and reread Proust. Sometimes even a few paragraphs is enough to set me thinking.