J’aime Les Livres Sur Paris*

September 17, 2018

Photo courtesy Sierra Maciorowski via Pixabay

For the past six months or more, I’ve been reading Paris…novels set in Paris, collections of essays and excerpts from larger works on Paris, guidebooks about Paris…

Did I mention, I’m going to Paris?

If you’re going to Paris, too, or even if your travel is of the armchair variety, here are a few of the most interesting livres I’ve come across:

Fiction

Paris By the Book, Liam Callanan. This was one of my favorites, though it got mixed reviews on Amazon. Protagonist Leah moves with her two daughters to Paris after her “eccentric novelist” husband vanishes, leaving behind plane tickets for Paris hidden in an unexpected place. When Leah discovers an unfinished manuscript her husband was writing, set in Paris, she and her girls “follow the path of the manuscript to a small, floundering English-language bookstore whose weary proprietor is eager to sell.” (Amazon) Books, exploring Paris, a little mystery (Is Leah’s husband dead or alive?)—I found it delightful.

13, Rue Therese, Elena Mauli Shapiro. Another intriguing story, following American academic Trevor Stratton as he sifts through a box of artifacts from World War I related to the life of Frenchwoman Louise Brunet. As he imagines what her life was like, he begins to fall in love with his alluring French clerk, Josianne.

The Light of Paris, Eleanor Brown. The intertwining stories of Madeleine, trapped in an unhappy marriage and reconnecting with her own essential self and Madeleine’s grandmother, Maggie, whose youthful diary Madeleine discovers reveals a completely different woman than she remembers.

The Little Paris Book Shop, Nina George. Monsieur Perdu prescribes novels for the hardships of life from his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine. I’m possibly the last person alive to read this, but I picked up a copy at my library’s used bookstore for a dollar last week.

Hunting and Gathering, Ana Gavalda. “A winning portrait of a group of misfits who band together to form their own family,” according to Booklist. This sounds so good to me, I’m going to try to squeeze it in before I leave. 

Paris: The Novel, Edward Rutherfurd. I’ve never read anything by Edward Rutherford, but several family members have recommended him, so I loaded this chunky historical novel onto my Kindle to take with me. Gotta have something to read on those long plane rides.

Nonfiction/Essays

A Paris All Your Own, edited by Eleanor Brown. All-new Paris-themed essays written by best-selling writers of women’s fiction. Not only did I enjoy the essays, I added a number of books to my TBR list while reading this.

A Paris Year, Janie MacLeod. I reread this (I wrote about it here) and jotted a few notes. 

Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide, Jesse Kanelos Weiner and Sarah Moroz. I’m probably taking this one with me—not only for the recommendations, but for the inspiration of the charming watercolor illustration.

Paris in Mind, edited by Jennifer Lee. I’m reading this right now. Excerpts from writings by everyone Thomas Jefferson, Sylvia Beach (who writes about opening the Shakespeare and Company bookstore), Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, David Sedaris, Dave Barry, and many more.

How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City, Joan DeJean. Notably, I haven’t read anything about the history of Paris, so I put this book on my TBR list. Likely won’t get to it before I leave, but there’s plenty of time to read when I get home.

The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, by Edmund White is another for the TBR list. “A collection of impressions” (Publisher’s Weekly), it sounds intriguing.

When I type “Paris” into Amazon’s search bar, it returns 50,000 results, so I know I’ve just barely scratched the surface of Paris-themed books! Which of your favorites did I leave out? Please share in the comments!

*“I love books about Paris”

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7 comments

  1. A delight list for sure! I've read several, but you've also tickled my interest on a few I haven't read. And yes, I definitely want something for those long plane rides!

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    1. And those are only the tip of the iceberg!

      I always take too many books because I have a morbid fear of running out of things to read. Larry's mom gave us back here Kindle because she wasn't using it, so I'm taking it loaded with several books so I don't have to carry them. I'll still bring one or two paper books, though--I can't help myself!

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  2. Kathy - I can't say I recall reading many books about Paris but you have given me a great list to get started. Especially the first one you mentioned...sounds like my kind of read. Take care and have fun planning your trip to Paris. Hugs!

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    1. Debbie--There are some fun ones out there. I really enjoyed Paris By the Book--hope you do, too.

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  3. I wasn't sure if you REALLY were going to Paris or if it was an online experience!!!! Bravo! I've been lucky to visit Paris more than once...Thanks for the list. I like books set in Paris, but not all...I did enjoy a volume of short stories called Paris for One by JoJo Moyes. Very light and funny, fluffy, but I so enjoyed the scenery and the characters. Looking forward to Paris by the Book. And then, I have a collection of illustrated books about Paris & France...Look for them when you're over there...

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    1. Rita--I will certainly look for those illustrated books while I'm there. It sounds like there are many pretty bookstores all over Paris, so you can bet I'll be browsing.

      I'll look for Paris for One--it sounds like fun. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  4. I’ve read The Little Paris Book Shop and The Light of Paris and may look into a few others on your list. I read The Paris Architect, which is set in Paris during World War II and I thought it was excellent (but I love books set during World War II, you may not). I also read the first two or three books in the series Bruno chief of police, which i just realized isn’t set in Paris but in the Dordogne. But I think you would like the series. I actually bought the first book in the series at Shakespeare & Co.

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