January 2013

How to Live - A Life of Montaigne

Written by Tom McGuire

How to Live - A Life of Montaigne
In One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer-by Sarah Bakewell


In this new book, Sarah Bakewell takes the already-readable Montaigne and makes him that much easier to read. The main themes of his writing are distilled and presented within the historical and biographical context that makes it all come alive.

How to get along with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love—such questions arise in most people’s lives. They are all versions of a bigger question: How do you live? Montaigne discussed these questions in essay form as if he were chatting to his readers: just two friends, whiling away an afternoon in conversation. There seems no end to the appeal of the essayist’s basic idea: that you can write spontaneously and ramblingly about yourself and your interests, and that the world will love you for it. Modern day Bloggers might be surprised to learn that they are keeping alive a tradition created more than four centuries ago. Montaigne wrote about things as they are, not things as they should be—and this included himself. I found Bakewell's book to be one of the best I have read in years - the framing of Montaigne for the modern world is incredibly well done and the thoughts of the Master Essayist are human and stuff that will stay with you.

I’m in love with this coffee shop, whenever I’m there I feel so alive: maybe it’s the music or the atmosphere, or simply the best coffee and food I’ve ever tasted. The mismatched furniture and crockery and shelves of books provide an informal chatty vibe and with inside and outside seating you can also watch the world go by.

The cafe opens at 6.30am Monday to Friday (Sat 9am—2pm) .*