Thanks to attending university as an adult I am a pretty fast reader. Very fast in fact. It is extremely helpful when it comes to reading reports at work.
Those reports, sadly, make up the majority of my reading when I’m at home. Yep, apart from a handful of blogs that I follow, I don’t have much time for reading for fun.
When I’m on vacation however, I put my speedy reading skills to good use and plough through the books. Naturally, most of the books I choose as holiday reading have a French flavour although every now and then style books sneak onto my ‘must read list’ too.
Here’s what I’ve finished, as well as the books that I’m part way through. Thank goodness I can read books on my iPad because this lot would be rather heavy to lug around France!
French Inspired Reading List
Title: The Red Notebook
Author: Antoine Laurain
This book came as a direct recommendation from Annette over at A French Collection and I absolutely adored it. I don’t want to spoil it for you so I’ll just say that it is a love story, set in Paris where the main characters don’t actually meet until the very end of the tale. But despite this they manage to build a relationship via a red notebook, amongst other trinkets hiding in a handbag. OK, so you will need to suspend reality a little but it really is a charming read.
Title: WTF?! What the French
Author: Olivier Magny
I’ve read both of Olivier Magny’s previous books and I think I like this one the best. It’s similar in style to his first book – Stuff Parisians Like. However I feel this book gives a more in depth look at French culture, and particularly the points that drive all the French stereotypes. It’s definitely worth a look.
Title: My (Part-Time) Paris Life
Author: Lisa Anselmo
This well written book was full of potential…that in my mind it didn’t quite live up to. I loved the concept. Girl who is grieving over the loss of her mother (and later her job) buys an apartment in Paris and proceeds to set up a life between Paris and New York. It was an easy read however, too often I found myself looking for more depth on her life in Paris (which Lisa Anselmo writes about in such an honest way) rather than the story of her grief and anxiety, which became a little repetitive. All that said, it would be worth picking up if you have visions of living in Paris.
Title: Pardon My French
Author: Stephen Hare
Another recommendation, this time from Oui in France’s Diane who reviewed Pardon My French here. I’m only half way through this interesting read which focuses on learning the French language. Stephen Hare takes a thought provoking look at why learning a language can be so difficult and tackles topics like motivation and personality as well as including learning tips.
Title: When in French
Author: Lauren Collins
I’m not too far into this one but so far I’m enjoying this book. It is a swirl of memoir and an exploration of learning second languages and author Lauren Collins manages to switch between the two really nicely.
Title: Financially Chic
Author: Fiona Ferris
I’ve already mentioned Fiona’s latest book in October’s monthly inspiration post but for completeness I’ve listed it again here. This easy read is packed with tips for chic living on a budget and makes a great companion to another of Fiona’s books Thirty Chic Days.
Have you read any of the titles I’ve mentioned here? What does your French inspired reading list look like? Do you have any reading recommendations for the second half of my trip? I’d love for you to share your book related thoughts in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.
Please note – This is an unsolicited post and no compensation of any kind has been received from the authors or their associated publishers.
10 thoughts on “My French Inspired Reading List”
How about a couple of classics?
Françoise Sagan wrote “Bonjour Tristesse” when she was only 18. It’s great in the original French but also translated into English.
Ditto for “A la Recherche du Temps Perdu” by Marcel Proust. It took me three years to read all the volumes, in the English translation by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.
And “Gigi” by Colette (she was nominated for a Nobel in Literature).
Some of the popular current French authors include Guillaume Musso, Marc Levy, Amélie Nothomb and Katherine Pancol.
Classics are an excellent idea Catherine and holiday time is the best time to read them. I’m definitely adding Gigi to the list!! Thank you – as always – for sharing your brilliant ideas!
I just finished “Bonjour Kale” by Kristen Beddard. It’s about a woman who grew up eating kale in the USA, then moved to Paris and couldn’t find any. She then made herself a mission to reintroduce kale to the French. I also have recently read “The Light of Paris” by Eleanor Brown, “The Perfume Collector” by Kathleen Tessaro, along with “Mastering the Art of French Eating” by Ann Mah. I think you are likely to enjoy them all.
Thank you for these ideas Garden Goddess. The kale book sounds rather interesting….I’ll have to pick that one up. It’s funny that you mention Kathleen Tessera’s books – I have at least one of them waiting for me at home. And I’ve been meaning to check out Ann Mah’s book for ages. I think you might have convinced me to get me act together!! So grateful to you for sharing – thanks again.
hou la la…where to begin!
I also have When in France on my bedside table and am looking forward to reading it!
Here are some of my favorites:
Diane Johnson (yes, she wrote La divorce and l’Affaire and Le Mariage): ‘Into a Paris Quartier’. Basically her love letter to the 6th arrondissement – I once lived there, so I am partial, but it does a wonderful job of bringing this one neighborhood and its history to life and explains the insularity that comes from the fact that many Parisians live and die within one quartier, even if they move within that quartier.
It probably inspired the other big-seller, ‘The Only Street in the World’ by Elaine Sciolino, about the Rue des Martyrs, which takes the topic down to one street in a different arrondissement, but a fascinating one. (She also wrote ‘La Séduction’, a very fun to read and thought-provoking study of the role that seduction takes in all areas of French life.)
I just finished ‘Buying a Piece of Paris’ by Ellie Nielsen, an Aussie who made her dream of buying an apartment in Paris as a second home come true. Very anecdotal and personal, but still a good general blueprint for how to do it – I would recommend that someone thinking about doing just that (like me!) read this first before diving into the necessary ‘hard’ research.
Finally, ‘The Bonjour Effect’ by Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau (they also wrote ‘The Story of French’ and ‘Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t be Wrong’) is a must-read for anyone whose French is good enough that they need to know the little folkways of what the French really mean when they say ___”
I thoroughly enjoyed all of these!
Thank you so much Alisa. I really appreciate you sharing all of these. I only got part way through Elaine Sciolino’s book but I think I might go better with the one about the 6th – I have a bias for that part of Paris too.
And I’ll definitely check out the one from my fellow Aussie – not necessarily because we want to move to Paris but because I like any sort of book that can teach me something I don’t know. Thanks again for being so generous in sharing your reading list.
Some older ones first – True Pleasures by Lucinda Holdforth is one I go back to – love to re-read it; also Ransacking Paris by Patti Miller. Both these authors are Australian, which I also like. Buying a Piece of Paris by Ellie Nielson is great – probably better than Lisa Anselmo’s My Part-time Paris Life. I actually found Lisa’s blog of the same name, especially about the trials and space-saving triumphs with her tiny apartment, better than the book. Canadian author, Isabel Huggan’s ‘Belonging’ came out some years back and is also worth a read. And don’t forget The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter.
Thanks so much Jan – you’ve reminded me of some old favourites here. I loved True Pleasures and all of John Baxter’s work. I’ve heard about Patti Miller but have never read anything. Looks like Ransacking Paris is on the list. Hope all is good in your world.
Oh boy, I have “The Red Notebook” on my tablet but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. So thanks for the heads up. I’m curious about “My Part-time Paris Life”. While I don’t want to live permanently in Paris, I would like to summer there yearly and I also live in the greater NYC metropolitan area so I curious about this one.