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How to Live

Continuing the “How to…” series, we’ve come to the pinnacle of self-help schlock… or so I thought. How to Live is a good book. So good, in fact, that I plan on ordering a half-dozen or so copies to give out as birthday presents throughout the year.

Please read slowly. One line at a time. " says the preface. And it is the perfect advice, for what follows are pithy comments on life grouped into chapters by predominant mood. “Be independent” advises Chapter One, “Commit”, retorts the second; the chapters are internally consistent but mutually conflicted, if not exclusive.

So here is what happens: you will start reading a chapter with an agreeable-sounding name, nodding along in the beginning, until a turning point comes where that particular line of thinking is brought to (what you think are) extremes only found on BBSs, internet forums, and private Facebook groups. Or you may start the chapter by shaking your head in disagreement only to find a line, or two, or ten that are actually quite sensible, for you, at that particular moment in time.

Some savvy operator — a pioneer, the author Derek Sivers might call them in what is the only trollish chapter of the book — could have created a speaking gig, an LLC, or maybe even a cult based on what’s here. Lucky for us that he didn’t: you can order the book online in hardcover, paperback, and many electronic formats.

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