In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their Worth - NYTimes.com
The study of the humanities evolved during the 20th century “to focus almost entirely on personal intellectual development,” said Richard M. Freeland, the Massachusetts commissioner of higher education. “But what we haven’t paid a lot of attention to is how students can put those abilities effectively to use in the world. We’ve created a disjunction between the liberal arts and sciences and our role as citizens and professionals.”
Mr. Freeland is part of what he calls a revolutionary movement to close the “chasm in higher education between the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs.” The Association of American Colleges and Universities recently issued a report arguing the humanities should abandon the “old Ivory Tower view of liberal education” and instead emphasize its practical and economic value.
I have been reading a lot of books in recent years that I had bypassed in the pursuit of various "career goals." And that's how I started reading Proust.
He is not that difficult to read, and he (as Edmund White observed) was foremost among those who combined the essay with the autobiographical novel.
Until you read him, you are just paddling.