A few years ago, I got into the habit of making book lists. Not as memory aids (although they are certainly helpful that way), but for the sheer joy of keeping track of my reading. As a Francophile, you can imagine it didn't take long before I put together a list of books about Paris to fuel my dreams in between visits to the city. The titles below are only a few of my favorites, part of a growing corner of my library, dedicated exclusively to life in France.
A young American writer takes a job with a Parisian ad agency, despite the fact that he speaks little French and has no advertising experience. What could go wrong? Follow his adventures as he learns how to cope with the reality of life in Paris, all his romantic ideas about the city shattered. He writes about it with humor and candor, and you’ll find yourself both cringing and smiling, and maybe even reconsidering your own relationship with the city.
Paris Was Ours, compiled by Penelope Rowland, is a collection of personal essays from a diverse group of writers, who relocated from all over the world to experience life à la française. As different as their stories might be, a common thread ties them all together, showing that, regardless of how long you live in Paris, the city will leave its indelible mark on you.
An Australian journalist meets her French prince charming in Bucharest, accepts his offer to visit him in Paris for a week, and I could safely say that the rest is history. This is a heartwarming and humorous account of Turnbull’s life as an expat, struggling to fit in and conform to the French social norms, from dinner parties to fashion choices and everything in between.
With his witty and intricate writing style, Gopnik tells his story as a New Yorker relocating to Paris with his wife and infant son. They soon immerse themselves in everyday life, punctuated with strolls in the Luxembourg Gardens and animated conversations with locals at their favorite neighborhood bistro. The book maintains a fine balance between stories describing the prosaic demands of life with a young child and the magic of raising that child in the City of Light.
A romanced biography of post-Impressionist artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, this story covers the artist’s life from his early childhood years in Provence to his teen years in Montmartre and further on to his challenging life as an infirm and an alcoholic. Your heart will break for young Henri, struggling to find love, to succeed as an artist, and to find his place in an effervescent Paris getting ready to enter the 20th century.