09 February, 2013

Books For The Obnoxious Parisian Soul In An American Body

I've been to Paris once, so that clearly makes me connoisseur of France and its capital, as you're well aware.  Southern California is pretty great and all, but I discovered the second I was born here that my true home lay someplace else (or, at least, until I actually move there and discover in a horrible, prolonged mid-life crisis that I liked Southern California better after all.)  I consider myself a subtle but obnoxious Francophile that doesn't know much to try to become a citizen at one point, but knows enough that it agrees with my aesthetic and it just looks so darn nice I can't very much help it.

While I continue to me absent from my dreamland, I occupy my mind and satiate my needs with books that only increase my sadness, but still excite me.

the sun also rises
1. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway was kind-of-sort-of crazy in a slight way, not yet Poe delusional, but still admirable for his strong sense of judgement.  After I finished reading this book I found out that he had, in fact, killed himself, which I wasn't surprised to find out.  Disregarding this morbid intro that I'm sure is turning you off already, I like this book, or at least, I liked reading it that one time, because I used to be obsessed with connecting myself, some way or another, to the Lost Generation, and then to the Beat Generation, and wanting to feel the same sense of poetic isolation they felt-- then, I came to the conclusion that all these kids had was extra confidence, and sure feelings about their writing and their hatred and other negative things that I realized I didn't truly want.  Regardless, while Ernest Hemingway may have not been a sweetheart, this story of these Americans who travel to Paris and encounter a loss of self and disillusionment and bull-fighting!

suite francaise
2. Suite Française, Irène Némirovsky
Now, this book I haven't read, but this book is set in Paris, during the War, when the Nazis took over Paris.  Like I mentioned before, I like that this book exists, and that I own it, because it sheds a different light on this place that I really like, and it sort of reminds me that Paris wasn't born with people drinking cafe au laits and having goose for dinner with baguettes they carried all the way home in their striped shirts.  Némirovsky had planned for this book to turn into a five-part series of books, detailing the life in France and the takeover, but was arrested right after the second book was finished, and later sent to Auschwitz, where she, unfortunately, passed away.

paris to the moon
3. Paris to the MoonAdan Gopnik
Ooompf.  This book is about Gopnik's family moving from New York to Paris in 1995, ready to delve into what they have always dreamed Paris would be like for them.  Sometimes, the book was a tiny kick to the stomach, as I (as you've noticed) have held Parisian lifestyle in a pedestal, and seem to think that everything that happens in Paris is the first three minutes of Midnight in Paris, but then I realize that I actually have been there, I've walked on the streets, I've bought myself cherries and gelato in Rue Cler, and I'm still not disillusioned.

parisian chic
4. Parisian Chic, Ines de la Fressange
Ines de la Fressange is a really cool woman who lives in Paris and has a sense of humor and style and a dreamy-looking apartment, who wrote this book which my sister gave me for Christmas a year ago.  Not only does it look pretty (it's like a beautiful moleskine journal that's already been filled in for you by a cooler, older sister), but it's so great, and I always feel so inadequate when I read it (in the best way).  The writing in it is honest, the pictures are beautiful, and it's really clever and funny.  Whenever I feel sad, sometimes I like to make myself sadder and flip through the book.  This sounds like worst book review, but I'm telling you, I'd take it to the grave.  [in between sobs] Parisian women are so much better than me.

the paris wife
5. The Paris WifePaula McLain
At Costco, I enter, leave my mother with the cart, return with chocolate-covered raisins, then make a beeline for the books they have stocked.  Most of the time, they only have boxed sets of The Hunger Games or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but on a fateful Sunday afternoon, I spotted the word "Paris" (how many times have I written that word in this post, I am so sorry) among the titles, and pulled this book out from behind some politician's take on our American government.  Mentioning Ernest Hemingway twice already is probably too much, but this book is about a girl's encounter being married to Ernest Hemingway in the 1920's.  I want to make a joke about it but it'd be terrible, but either way, I'm excited to read it and to either love it or be disappointed!

paris was ours
6. Paris Was OursPenelope Rowlands
This book is my treasure.  I eyed it every time I walked into Anthropologie, and one day I decided that I had money to buy it and I obviously really wanted it, so I bought it.  Good decisions!  This book is a collection of essays by thirty-two writers who had visited or lived in Paris, and their experiences, ranging from the culinary arts, to raising a family, to etiquette, to style, oh my gosh.  It's one of my favorite books of all time, and if you take anything out of this post, is that this book is a wonderful thing that I am so glad exists.

(* Honorary mention of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins 'cause John Green likes it so much.)


  1. I simply adored Paris Was Ours. So beautifully written, and so many inspiring stories. I'll have to check out the rest of the books on your list too. :)

    1. Wasn't it just beautiful! Gosh, I love that book so much!

  2. I've only been to Paris once as well, but I can't say I fell in love with it as other people do. I liked it all the same, and I love reading about places I've been to, so I might check some of these out! I'm probably more of an anglophile, I read books set in/about London a lot to prepare myself for my future life there hahaha.

    1. I've never been to London, but I'm excited to see what all the fuss is about! I'd love to read some cool London-based literature!

  3. Mmmm such great recommendations!

  4. And then there are the films, too. For instance, 2 Days in Paris.

    1. Oh oh yes! Amelie and Midnight in Paris and Funny Face!

  5. Great list! I've only heard of The Paris Wife, but I've got to check out the other recommendations :)

  6. THANK YOU for this list, I'm actually not a massive reader myself. Well, I read A LOT online but I never read many books, which is a shame, I wish I did. My bf really enjoys reading actual books though so I'm going to link him to this post if that's ok with you :)

  7. Heya! I'm at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the great work!

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  10. i love ernest hemingway!I've read a farewell to arms and enjoyed it thoroughly. I need to put these books on my book list!

    you have a lovely blog. One that's out of the ordinary. Following you on GFC now!



Thank you, pal.