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Slow Traveler's Picks - Recommended Books Set in Paris

(original discussion)

Reading a book set in your favorite travel destination is always a great way to prepare for a trip or escape on a rainy day. PaulaVA wanted to know what were our members favorite books (fiction or non-fiction) set in Paris. Here is the varied set of books our members recommended to transport you to Paris.


Order the Sweet Life in Paris

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City, David Lebovitz

Broadway, 2009 (hardcover)

David Lebovitz has kept many a slow traveler entertained with his blog, and now he's come out with a book of with stories of his life in Paris. As Shannon says, "It's really funny, really well written - I want to move to Paris more than ever! "

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Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris, Sarah Turnbull, Gotham Books, 2004 (paperback)

"This is the story of an Australian woman who moves to Paris and her relationship with a Frenchman." Kaydee really enjoyed this one.

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Order My Life in France

My Life in France, Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme

Knopf, 2006 (hardcover)

A memoir of Julia Child, much of it set in Paris. Recommended by Kaydee and Kim.

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Order a Moveable Feast from Amazon

A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemmingway

Scribner, 1996 (paperback)

Kaydee recommends this classic by Ernest Hemmingway. "Not a novel but his own experiences living in Paris. Also see Riana's great Slow Travel notes on Hemmingway's Steps Through Paris."

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Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik

Random House, 2001

"... if you haven't read Adam Gopnik's "Paris to the Moon", that's not one to miss" says Roz.

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A Year in the Merde, Stephen Clarke

Bloomsbury USA, 2006 (paperback)

Jo&Den says ""Year in the Merde" is about a British businessman who spends a year in Paris. Very light, but extremely funny (for me and my hubby, laugh out loud) novel which has 2 sequels I need to get to." Chachalaca agrees with Jo "... it is laugh-out-loud funny. I didn't want to read it, given the title and my preconceived ideas that it was an anti-French book. It isn't, if anything it makes the author look like a scum-bag!"

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The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears in Paris at the World's Most Famous Cooking School, Kathleen Flinn, Penguin, 2008 (paperback)

"I just finished "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry" by Kathleen Flinn. It is her true story of being let go/quitting a corporate job and pursuing her dream of learning to cook at Cordon Bleu in Paris. It's a great read, especially if you love food and cooking." says chachalaca.

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Order A Town Like Paris from Amazon

A Town Like Paris: Falling in Love in the City of Light, Bryce Corbett, Broadway, 2008 (paperback)

"I just read another book in a similar vein to "A Year in Merde" and "Almost French". It is "A Town Like Paris" written by Bryce Corbett. It is an autobiographical novel of an Australian journalist who comes to Paris and basically takes a job in Paris on a spur of the moment, which turns out to be a life altering decision. It was quite funny as well. I happened across the book because it was in the apartment in Paris I was staying in." says Kellyc777 Author's website: Bryce Corbett

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Order Paris, Paris from Amazon

Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light, David Downie

Transatlantic Press, 2005 (paperback)

A collection of essays about Paris, recommended by Woodstock.


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Order Memoirs of Montparnasse from Amazon

Memoirs of Montparnasse, John Glassco

NYRB Classics, 2007 (paperback)

Recommended by Laidback - "My favorite book of the between wars era of Montparnasse is called, fittingly enough, "Memoirs of Montparnasse" by John Glassco."

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Order The Piano Shop from Amazon

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, Thad Carhart

Random House, 2002 (paperback)

SL Jones recommends - "I'm not a pianist, but I found it delightful and very characteristic of the unique shops of Paris and its neighborhoods ... it's full of information."

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C'est La Vie: An American Woman Begins a New Life in Paris and--Voila!--Becomes Almost French, Suzy Gershman, Penguin, 2005, paperback

A fun read and informative if you plan to move to Paris for a year or so. Suzy Gershman writes the Frommers "Born to Shop" guides, so is an expert shopper. The book follows her through her decision to move to Paris after her husband dies at a young age, her first year living in Paris, finding an apartment to rent, furnishing it, making new friends, and finally deciding to stay in France. Lots of shopping and eating in restaurants. Detailed appendix with practical information for someone moving to Paris.

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Le Divorce, Diane Johnson

Plume, 1998 (paperback)

Recommended by Kaydee. "This is a novel set in Paris. She has several other books that are similar. You might also enjoy the movie with Kate Hudson."

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery

Europa Editions, 2008 (paperback)

Cigalechanta says: "I can't praise enough a book I recently read that was translated from the French; "The Elegance of the Hedgehog". It takes place in Paris. I laughed, I cried, I smiled."

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Order Hunting and Gathering from Amazon

Hunting and Gathering, Anna Gavalda

Riverhead Trade, 2007 (paperback)

"'Hunting and Gathering' is a lovely novel by Anna Gavalda, set in Paris with some fascinating 'day trips' that could only happen in France during a little group of misfits' explorations of the heart." says Dave aka "Happy in Paris"

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Order This Night's Foul Work from Amazon

This Night's Foul Work, Fred Vargas

Penguin, 2008 (paperback)

Dave also recommends Fred Vargas's Chief Inspector Adamsberg Mysteries. "More of Fred Vargas's wonderful crime-police novels have been translated into English, including "The Chalk Circle Man" and "This Night's Foul Work." I just read the former, struggling in French. She ("Fred") is a great author. Quirky characters, unique plots, dialogue that's a delight, oh so French, and above all writing that's chock full of humanity. Set in Paris, where Commander Adamsberg, one of the most remarkable police officers in fiction, works. Do not miss these! Amazon lists a co-author. I think it's the translator." Chris and Roz also recommend this series.

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Order Foreign Tongue from Amazon

Foreign Tongue: A Novel of Life and Love in Paris, Vanina Marsot, Harper, 2009 (paperback)

"A wonderful new addition for this list. I bought this with low expectations, willing to read almost anything for a Paris fix, but this surprised me with its wit, intelligence and wealth of information about language and culture. I recommend it highly!" says Chris.

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Order Blame it on Paris from Amazon

Blame it on Paris, Laura Florand

Forge Books, 2006 (paperback)

Kellyc777 also recommends this novel. The author's website: Laura Florand. From Amazon.com, "Laura, in Paris for a year on a Fulbright in 2001, isn't looking for love, but after her friends dare her, she invites to a party the hot bistro waiter she's been salivating over. They, of course, hit it off; Sébastien proves to be suave, romantic and smart, and a talented artist to boot. When Laura's scholarship ends, she returns to America, but unable to bear their separation, she quits her Ph.D. program and returns to Paris to live with Sébastien in an apartment "smaller than most American cars.""

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Order Nana from Amazon

Nana, Emile Zola

Barnes and Nobles Classics, 2006 (paperback)

Sophie recommends this classic novel. From Amazon.com, "In Nana, the characters are a prostitute, who rises from the streets to become what Zola calls a “high-class cocotte,” and the men - and women - whom she loves, betrays, and destroys."

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Order Belly of Paris from Amazon

The Belly of Paris, Emile Zola

Oxford University Press, 2009 (paperback)

Sophie also recommends this classic novel. From Library Journal, "In Zola's 1873 tale, an escaped prisoner hiding out in Paris becomes entangled with a group of Socialists."

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The Woman in the Fifth, Douglas Kennedy

Arrow, 2009 (paperback)

Anothoer recommendation from Sophie. From Trade Paperback edition, " When Harry Ricks arrives in Paris on a bleak January morning he is a broken man. He is running away from a failed marriage and a dark scandal that ruined his career as a film lecturer in a small American university. With no money and nowhere to live, Harry swiftly falls in with the city’s underclass, barely scraping a living while trying to finish the book he’d always dreamed of writing. A chance meeting with a mysterious woman, Margit Kadar, with whom Harry falls in love, is his only hope of a brighter future. However, Margit isn’t all she seems to be and Harry soon has to make a decision that will alter his life forever."

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Ensemble, C'Est Tout, Anna Gavalda

J'Ai Lu, 2005 (paperback)

"In French but an easy read. If the book is too much French, you can see the movie." Recommended by Sophie.

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Order The Fairy Gunmother from Amazon

The Fairy Gunmother, Daniele Pennac

Random House UK, 1999 (paperback)

PatrickLondon recommends Daniel Pennac's Malaussène series of crime novels.

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Order Les Miserables from Amazon

Les Miserables, Victor Hugo

Signet Classics, 1987

"This may be a stretch but a good translation of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is still one of the best reads about Paris, even if it is set in an earlier time. Even though the story is old, many of the places are still recognizable. And it's a great story." Recommended by GG Husak.

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Click to Order Murder in Marais

Murder in the Marais (Aimee Leduc Investigation), Cara Black, Soho Crime, 2003 (paperback)

Sukicart says, "All of Cara Black's Murder Mysteries are great. I think there are 9 or 10 now, each set in a different arrondissment starting with Murder in the Marais."

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Annette Vallon: A Novel of the French Revolution, James Tipton Harper Paperbacks, 2008 (paperback)

"This is set mostly outside Paris (in the Loire area), but I just finished reading "Annette Vallon, A Novel of the French Revolution" by James Tipton. It's historical fiction about the Frenchwoman who was William Wordsworth's mistress and bore him a child -- something I never knew about. I thought it was fascinating and very well written." says Roz.

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Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne, Helen Stevenson

Vintage, 2004 (paperback)

Doug Phillips recommends this story of Paris. "I read it before we spent a week in Paris in 2005 - enjoyed it a lot. Not a novel, but the story of Paris in seven different periods."

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Kiki's Paris: Artist and Lovers 1900-1930, Billy Kluver

Harry N. Abrams, 1994 (paperback)

Cigalechanta told us, "One of my favorite books. You really get a feeling of what life was like hanging out at the cafes, the costume parties and the merry-go-round of lovers."

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Click to order Crimes of Paris

The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection, Dorothy Hoobler

Little, Brown and Company, 2009 (hardcover)

Ciaofornow stated, "...science, art, history, culture, set in Belle Époque Paris. I've always enjoy non-fiction that reads like a good story, & this book did not disappoint."

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Click to Order Paris: Secret History

Paris: The Secret History, Andrew Hussey

Bloomsbury USA, 2008 (paperback)

PatrickLondon describes this book as, "weighty, fascinating - and an antidote to the regular schoolbook and museum history of the great and good."

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Above Paris , Pierre Salinger (Author), Robert Cameron Robert Cameron (Photographer), Cameron & Company 1984 (hardocover)

Daka recommends aerial views of Paris, "In one of the rental apartments in Paris we saw a book called Above Paris, incredible pictures taken from a helicopter. We "had to have" this ... so as soon as we returned we found it on Amazon. It should belong to every Paris lover. "

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If you would like to suggest other books, please do so here or by sending an e-mail to SlowTrav Content.

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