Paris Recommended Reading
“To know Paris is to know a great deal.” ~Henry Miller
Hungry For Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 102 Best Restaurants, Alexander Lobrano, 2008 — A thoroughly delightful guide to eating in the gastronomic capital.
Transforming Paris: The Life and Labors of Baron Haussmann, David P. Jordan, 1995 — Few men have had such an enormous impact on an entire city’s landscape as the 19th century architect and urban planner, Baron Haussmann. This is an academic but very readable biography.
Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik, 2001 — The New Yorker writer, who lived in Paris for several years, muses on the city.
Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology, Adam Gopnick, 2004 — A collection of writings from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine to M.F.K. Fisher and Diana Vreeland.
Women of the Left Bank, Shari Benstock, 1987 — The interesting account profiles female artists living in Paris during the first decades of the 20th century.
A Corner in the Marais: Memoir of a Paris Neighborhood, Alex Karmel, 2002 — The history of the charming walk-up he and his French wife bought in Paris’s Marais district in 1982.
Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris, A.J. Leibling, 1986 — A thoroughly delightful account of a gourmet’s progress in pre-war Paris.
Quiet Days in Clichy, Henry Miller, 1956 — The celebration of love, art, and the Bohemian life at a time when the world was simpler and slower, and the sexual pioneer Miller was an obscure, penniless young writer in Paris.
Travelers’ Tales: Paris, James O’Reilly, 2002 — The book captures the city’s romance through stories that entertain, inform, and touch the heart.
The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, Edmund White, 2001 — Witty and thoughtful musings on Paris by a writer who lived in the city for many years.
Fragile Glory: A Portrait of France and the French, Richard Bernstein, 1989 — An incisive survey of contemporary France.
I’ll Always Have Paris: A Memoir, Art Buchwald, 1980 — Buchwald sums up the joie de vivre of Paris during the fifties.
A Traveller’s History of Paris, Robert Cole, 1997 — An excellent all-purpose history of the city.
Is Paris Burning?, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, 2000 — A gripping history of Paris during World War II.
Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation, Noel Riley Fitch, 1983 — Fascinating account of literary life in Paris during the twenties and thirties.
Paris: The Collected Traveler, Barrie Kerper, 2000 — Good all-purpose read.
French or Foe? Getting the Most out of Visiting, Living and Working in Paris, Polly Platt, 2003 —Platt, an American in Paris, shares her knowledge of the intricacies of French etiquette and social life.
Love and Louis XIV, Antonia Fraser, 2006 — The best-selling British historian turns her keen eye and narrative gifts to examining the influence of the women in the Sun King’s life. Wonderful, engaging history.
My Life in France, Julia Child, 2006—A delightful memoir of the famous television chef about her first paces in the cuisine in Paris. A foodie must-read.
City of Darkness, City of Light, Marge Piercy, 1997 — The story reveals three women and their prominent roles in the tumultuous, bloody French Revolution alongside their more famous male counterparts.
Perfume, Patrick Süskind, 1989 — A gripping, beautifully written mystery about an orphan with an incredible nose for scents set in medieval Paris.
Suite Française, Irene Nemirovsky, 1941-42 — Extraordinary lost work of fiction about the German occupation of France from the perspective of a Jewish novelist embedded in a real story as gripping and complex as the invented one.
The House in Paris, Elizabeth Bowen, 1935 — A lesser-known but brilliant and influential jewel box of a novel that begins with two children meeting in the parlor of a narrow, teeny Parisian townhouse – and the slow revelation of the secrets it harbors.
Tropic of Cancer, Henry miller—Censored in the U.S. for many years, the novel tells of a young writer and his group during the Great Depression in Paris.
The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, 2003 — The monster bestseller marries the gusto of an international murder mystery with a collection of fascinating esoterica culled from 2,000 years of Western history.
Le Divorce/Le Marriage, Diane Johnson, 1998/2000 — Twin novels set in contemporary Paris offer an astute social portrait of the city.
A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway —Hemingway’s love letter to the city.
Les Misérables, Victor Hugo—Familiar to most thanks to the popular musical, Hugo’s (hefty) novel about class struggle in Paris is set with the backdrop of the French revolution.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo—Another Hugo classic, this novel is a fascinating look at the fabled church and life in 15th-century Paris.
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens— The Dickens classic pans the period from the outbreak of the American Revolution to the storming of the Bastille.
Paris in the Twentieth Century, Jules Verne—Written in the late 19th century, Verne’s famous “lost novel,” which tells a futuristic tale of Paris in the 1960s Paris, was not rediscovered and published until 1994.
In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust—Proust’s semi-autobiographical novel, set in seven volumes, offers wonderful descriptions of 19th-century Paris, especially its high-society circles.
The Ambassadors, Henry James—The wonderfully named Louis Lambert Strether is another one of James’ Americans, who finds himself utterly seduced and charmed by Europe, in this case, Paris.
Madeline series, Ludwig Bemelmans, 1984 — These charmingly illustrated books are a great way to get children excited about going to Paris.
This is Paris, Miroslav Sasek, 1959 — This charming illustrated tour of the city was reissued a few years ago, and it’s a wonderful introduction to the city, its residents and monuments for young readers.
Nicholas, Rene Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempé, 1959 — A series of illustrated chapter books about the misadventures of a French school boy that will make you and your children laugh out loud.
Chasing Degas, Eva Montanari, 2009 – This is the story of a young ballerina who mistakenly swaps satchels with painter Edgar Degas, leading to an imaginative and colorful introduction to the work of the French Impressionists.
Paris in the Spring with Picasso, Joan Yolleck, 2010 – Your child will feel as though they were invited to one of Gertrude Stein’s inspiring get-togethers with descriptions of her avant-garde circle of friends.
Babar series, Jean de Brunhoff and Laurent de Brunhoff, 1930s-present – Follow the king of elephants as he discovers his world of Paris and beyond. Your child is guaranteed to love them as much as you did.
Eloise in Paris, Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight, 1999 – Our favorite mischievous young New Yorker visits the city of light with Nanny and Skipperdee, wreaking havoc along the way.
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