Nonfiction, Histories, Memoirs, Daily Stories - Paris with Scott

Nonfiction

In most nonfiction, we can learn more than we really want to know about the real goings on in the past.  You can learn all about the daily rituals of Louis XIV.  Or, read Julia Child’s memoirs of her time in France.  Next, try Hemingway’s memoir of the café life during the 1920s.  Then, choose from histories of Paris, instructions of wandering the streets, or read daily fun stories and look at water colors of the City of Light.

Getting to know the city before you visit is an important step in being prepared for your visit.  You don’t want to show up and wonder why you are there!

Take a look at these selections, find something that strikes your fancy and enjoy.

How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City

by Joan DeJean

Haussmann may be the one who created the grand avenues, but Joan DeJean travels back in time to discover the first changes of what makes Paris, Paris.  A new bridge, the Pont Neuf, was completed in 1606 and connected both sides of the river across the island.  Not only was it for travel, but it contained a little square for socializing.  Henri IV inaugurated the bridge and a statue of him still stands watch over visitors who continue to socialize there.  Some of the rabbit warren of medieval streets was cleared to make way for the Place des Vosges that included a little green space.  Then, rapidly the city advanced and DeJean continues through history describing the changes and how the city was planned for beauty. (click image to order from Amazon)

Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light

Tyler Stovall

France and Paris were free from the racism that was prevalent in the United States.  Tyler Stovall explains the how and why of African Americans moving there in the early 20th century.  People like Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and many other writers, academics, entertainers, scientist and the avant-garde moved to Paris.  A fascinating history that deserves learning. (click image to order from Amazon)

Flâneur: The Art of Wandering the Streets of Paris

by Federico Castigliano

Flâner is a French verb meaning “to wander, to roam, to stroll” and a person who does this is a Flâneur.   In his book, Castigliano teaches this art to his readers through well-written stories sauntering along the streets of Paris.  Easy to read and/or take along to Paris and see the places laid out on his map.  Kind of inspiration to enjoy life and what it brings. (click image to order from Amazon)

A Moveable Feast

by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s memoir of his life in 1920s Paris is a classic must read for visitors to Paris.  Along with recounting experiences with luminaries in the society of the time, he also describes places in Paris that you can still visit today.  Hemingway’s widow, Mary, published the original version in 1964, 3 years after his death.  A “Restored Edition” came out in 2009.  This new version omits some material, adds a section and changes the order of some sections.  Hemingway’s second wife’s son and grandson participated in this new publication.  It may be under the non-fiction category, but you take a read and see what you think. (click image to order from Amazon)

Seven Ages of Paris

by Alistair Horne

A history of Paris from the 12th century up until Charles de Gaulle’s death in 1969.  Horne is a world renowned historian and his writing is engaging.  Paris’ history is extremely long, so even taking on this chunk as a project in one book still results in a good-sized book.  For each age, the author weaves into the history insight into politics, fashion, architecture, urban planning, everyday people, royalty, military and every part of life.  As some reviewers have said, the book is a romantic love letter to Paris. (click image to order from Amazon)

My Life in France

by Julia Child

Between 1948 and 1954, Julia and Paul Child lived in France.  Paul, working in the United States Information Service and Julia on her way to becoming the legend.  Julia tells her story of falling in love with everything French – the food, the people, the cities, the butcher, the grocers, the markets, the country – all of it.  This bestseller was partly revealed in the movie, Julie & Julia.  Julia Child’s joy and enthusiasm is infectious and her story-telling lovely.   (click image to order from Amazon)

The Sun King

by Nancy Mitford

Louis XIV and Versailles are described in vivid detail in this wonderful book originally published in 1967.  A history, yes, but not full of tedious academic descriptions.  Rather it is filled with behind the scenes scandals, palace intrigues, power struggles, sleeping partners of the king, and even more shocking particulars.  Other than rule a country, what else did these people have to do?  Just read and you can find out.   An entertaining must read if you are interested in French court life of the late 1600s, early 1700s, and even if you are not. (click image to order from Amazon)

Judgment of Paris

by George M. Taber

On May 24, 1976, a group of 11 French judges, organized by a British wine merchant, blind tasted 10 white wines and 10 red wines.  What made it interesting is that American wines from California were seeded against some of the best wines in France.  And, you probably know by now, a California wine won in each category and outrage was the general French reaction.  Raymond Oliver, author of La Cuisine, was one of the judges that day.  George M. Taber was the only reporter at the tasting, and he recounts the day, the events leading up to it and the fall out after. (click image to order from Amazon)

A Paris Year: My Day-to-Day Adventures in the Most Romantic City in the World

Janice MacLeod

The bestselling author of Paris Letters writes another hit with this “journal” of an entire year.  Upon her arrival in Paris, MacLeod began a notebook writing down each day all the sights, smells and tastes in her day.  But, she can also draw!!  Her water color illustrations provide plenty of Paris eye candy to highlight her beautiful writing.  The book is in a journal format so you can read entries for a few days at one sitting, then pick it back up later and begin again on a fresh day. (click image to order from Amazon)

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