Sarah Bakewell, How to Live


How do you avoid pointless arguments? How do you get over the death of someone you love? How do you balance the need to feel safe against the need to feel free? How do you deal with fanatics? How do you make the most of every moment?

In our self-help obsessed age, new year's resolutions can make the heart sink. Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live is a biography of Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Renaissance nobleman, philosopher and writer. Bakewell lays out the book in a series of questions that collectively seek to answer the question - how to live. Montaigne wrote 107 diarised essays, in a free-flowing and modern style across his life 1533–1592. His invention of les essais was the start of an entirely new literary genre. This is a brilliant introduction to his work, an intelligent and punchy start to the new year.

Words by Tallulah Brown. The Iris Letter January 2017