I remember reading and enjoying Montaigne's essays in high school French class. A lot of the Stoicism works I've been reading recently referenced Montaigne's essays, so I figured I'd revisit them again by reading How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell.
She took an interesting spin on Montaigne by explaining how he was the first writer to write about his own inner thoughts and experiences and what it meant to be alive. This was something new for his time, so you could say he was like the first blogger (with a fountain quill). He wrote about himself so others could see themselves in him and understand humanity overall. He
dealt with with his own public issues by writing about his private life and wrote about commonplace things with simple titles, drawing lessons from everything around him. He also read a lot about others and tried to learn from cultures very different from him, which is very rare for someone living in the 16th century.
I thought the book was alright, but I found it to be too much about history and background and less about the essays themselves. Like Montaigne, the author of this book would frequently change the subject and write about things unrelated to each chapter's title (maybe that was on purpose to demonstrate directly Montaigne's styles). I would have preferred more discussion of specific essays and the lessons within them and deeper discussion of the title question, "how to live."