Books on Paris: Delving into my Curated Bookshelf

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Books on Paris: Delving into my Curated Bookshelf
Six months in Paris on my year abroad was enough to make a small dent in the literary cacophony of opinions, revelations and assertions about the French capital which has created something of a canon of its own. The city has been something of a home and a refuge for French and expatriate writers alike for centuries, offering a deliberate pace of life that favors contemplation and observation over fleeting occurrences. Many leisurely hours were spent reading in the manicured gardens of the Place des Vosges — my personal favorite reading spot and where Victor Hugo’s house is aptly located — and endless weekends spent frequenting hidden spots which I’d read about, discovering the corners of Paris less visited. This is my edit of the most authentic writing about one of Europe’s most explored and romanticized cities. Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell on Bookshop. Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell The 75th anniversary of Animal Farm passed a few years ago so it seems fitting to include an Orwellian novel in my selection. While Paris-related books tend to place the city on a pedestal, this 1933 memoir will remind you about the more realistic and less sugar-coated sides of French metropolitan life. Orwell describes what it’s like to live on the breadline in a city that shuns poverty, whilst working as a plongeur — someone who washes the dishes — in a chi-chi Parisian restaurant. He speaks with tragicomic frankness and sobering honesty about living on the margins of society, about the destitution of those who cannot afford to think further ahead than their next meal, and the dehumanizing gaze of the prosperous Parisian middle and upper classes. The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, Charles Baudelaire on Bookshop

Lead photo credit : Selection of books. © Susan Q Yin, Unsplash

More in Anna Gorvits & Audrey Nait-Challal, books, Charles Baudelaire, Down and Out in Paris and London, Elaine Sciolino, George Orwell, Paris Coffee: 30 lieux de dégustation illustrés au café, Paris Echo, Paris Revealed: The Secret Life of a City, Sebastian Faulks, Stephen Clarke, The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays

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Claudia lived in Paris for six months during a year abroad which she did as part of her French and Spanish degree at Durham University. With a penchant for all things culture, languages, food and flânerie, she quickly discovered why it is that the French capital is so widely celebrated. While she was in Paris, she started writing for Ma Vie Francaise, an online-based publication about Francophone cultures. After completing an MA in Newspaper Journalism at City, University of London last year, she’s currently working as an editorial intern at Monocle Magazine, a globally-minded publication which focuses on culture, urbanism and business. Her favorite Parisian hidden gem is the Musée de la Vie Romantique, and if you’re a gourmand(e), she recommends paying a visit to the Rue des Martyrs.


  • Ed Cobleigh
    2023-02-17 12:22:47
    Ed Cobleigh
    Bonjour Claudia, Thanks for the recommendations. I would like to nominate my own book featuring Paris. The Pilot: Fighter Planes and Paris is a novel set in the City of Lights. The protagonist uses the city and its ambiance to determine what is important in his life. He finds that a French woman can teach him how to live. Throughout the book, famous Parisian scenes figure into a plot that spans the skies of time. If you would like to read it, I can gift you a Kindle down load or send you a copy gratis.