All about living

How to Live, or, A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
After hearing Ann Kingman rave about this book on the Books on the Nightstand podcast, I was pretty darn sure I’d love it.
And, well, guys, I’m very glad I read it, but I didn’t love it the way I thought I might.
But then, that’s really not surprising. Reading about a French nobleman who lived way-back-when is really not my thing.
But—a book about how to live one’s life… that’s what I like to read.
This book was rather a mix of those elements, and the stuff I liked best was the “how to live” stuff rather than the biographical stuff about Montaigne and his literary afterlife.
Which is not to say that Montaigne ain’t likeable.
It’s delightful how contemporary he often seems. There was one point during his writing life when his friends wondered if he should reveal less about his personal life, and I thought: Dude was a blogger.
Also— He described his writing as “free and unruly,” and I’m all about the unruly.
There were other sections in the book that just left me nodding my head. For example, here’s Montaigne, followed by a perfect summary by Bakewell:
“‘I set forth a humble and inglorious life; that does not matter. You can tie up all moral philosophy with a common and private life just as well as with a life of richer stuff.’ Indeed, that is just what a common and private life is: a life of the richest stuff imaginable.” (pp. 317-318)
Yup. That’s it in a nutshell. ’Nuf said.

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