A Reading List for Paris

Thank you all SO much for the great recommendations for books to read about Paris. I’m posting the full list because I know I am not the only one obsessed with the French (not just Parisians, as Flo has taught me that Parisian and French can often be very different!). I’m excited to be going back soon (though sad I won’t have a chance to visit the rest of the country this time… I really loved my time in the south of France when I was there a few years ago, and my goal is to visit EACH region!)

I am currently reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog and LOVING it. It may end up being one of my favorites. Though by a French author, I really wouldn’t recommend it primarily as a book having to do with France (or Paris). It does take place in Paris, but could be anywhere, honestly. Instead, I would recommend it for a person, or group, who would like to have some really wonderful philosophical ideas thrown at them. This book is like a philosophy course — but fun! (I say that having a brother who is about to have his PhD in Philosophy… he thinks all philosophy is fun.)

Below are the suggestions from readers. Each title represents a recommendation, and each *  by that title represents a ditto (i.e. another person recommending the same book). Onto the good stuff…

Books Recommended:

The Ladies’ Paradise by Emile Zola *
The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola
Pot-Bouille by Emile Zola
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway***
Perfume: the Story of a Murder by Patrick Suskind
Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbary *
Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. (also titled: Books, Baguettes, and Bedbugs) by Jeremy Mercer **
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story by Elizabeth Bard *
My Life in France by Julia Child **
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik *
Eiffel’s Tower: And the World’s Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count by Jill Jonnes
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Blue Lantern by Colette
My Mother’s House by Colette
Sido by Colette
Almost French by Sarah Turnball *
Le Divorce by Diane Johnson
Bad Marie by Marcy Demansky
French Milk by Lucy Knisley
Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach
Petite Anglaise by Catherine Sanderson
The Beat Hotel by Barry Miles

Other authors recommended:

Henry Miller
Anais Nin

Poets Recommended:

Apollinaire and Baudelaire

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11 thoughts on “A Reading List for Paris

  1. I’m so glad you posted a complete list. I’m in the middle of The Paris Wife right now and I’m really enjoying it, but I’m glad I read A Moveable Feast first. Happy reading!

  2. Thanks for compiling this great list Wallace! I have only read 3 of these, can’t wait to dive into some more. I think ‘My Life in France’ just got moved up my TBR list.

  3. I hated the ending of The Elegance of the Hedgehog as well.

    This is a great list! I have my own Paris obsession and have read a fair amount of these, but there are many others that need to go on my TBR list.

    A few recommendations to add are An Immoveable Feast and A Pedestrian in Paris by John Baxter and Paris to the Past by Ina Caro.

    I hope you have a wonderful trip (I’m just a little bit jealous!)

    • Oh my gosh – I am so intrigued about this ending now!!! I’ll look into those books (I’ve never heard of an IMMOVEABLE feast… am looking that one up now). Thanks!

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