What I’m Reading

I am always being asked for recommendations of books on Paris– places to visit, recipes, and just fun books to read that are set in Paris. So I decided to set up a page on my Blog where you can go to see the books that I enjoy and a link directly to Amazon so they are easy to buy! I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Please let me know of any suggestions of other books to add to the list. Thanks!




This book was one of the first that I read that inspired me to figure out a way to live in Paris. When I lived in Paris my junior year of college, I only got impressions from the “outside looking in” since I was an obvious foreigner and I didn’t have a French boyfriend. Sarah Turnbull tells stories of some of her first social interactions with other couples and friends of Frederic that are hilarious, but also gave me insight into some of my own experiences. And poor Sarah didn’t even speak French, so the whole experience of trying to communicate was much tougher for her! But she has a great attitude (most of the time!) and this is a fun, easy read.

I read Hemingway when I was in college in the States, and during my months in Paris, but I didn’t have a real sense of what Paris was like when he lived there in the 20’s until I read this book. I walked by the public bath houses, for instance, without any understanding that many apartments didn’t have showers or baths at that time. Instead you went to the public baths once a week. That was part of life.
Unfortunately, I also got a better understanding of what an awful husband (and person) he was sometimes, so that has now colored my view of his novels, but even knowing that doesn’t detract from the fact that he was a fascinating, and gifted writer. And so is Paula McLain.

This is my favorite reference book on wines. I really like her casual, down-to-earth style of writing and she makes very clear from the beginning that her method for choosing wines to include in this book are simple and very personal: if she liked a wine enough to want to buy a bottle, that winery’s name is listed here. And her rating system is simple and also very personal with the use of stars and arrows to highlight her favorite wineries and wines. She doesn’t get caught up in worrying particularly about the year the wine was produced. Her feeling is that if a winery has proven that they make good wine, then you can assume that any bottle you buy from them will be drinkable, which I think is true. Certainly some years are more memorable, and that’s something to then note for yourself as you try them. I have found her method of listing wineries very helpful because there are SO many different producers in France (Burgundy has a ridiculous number of small producers for example) that there is no way you can ever feel you know them all. Her descriptions often match my own experiences, so my copy now has lots of small bookmarks and highlights on wines that have become my favorites. Have fun with it!

Karen suggested this one and I will definitely pick it up because it obviously overlaps with Hemingway and the other writers of his time. Thanks Karen!

Karen, this one has been on my list for a long time. I’ve skimmed it, but not read it from cover to cover. I WILL though!

David Leibovitz is one of my favorite sources for information on Paris so thanks for this recommendation. I, in fact, did a blog post on his latest cookbook and I subscribe to his blog and love it (www.davidlebovitz.com).
He always has great ideas of new places to visit and his recipes don’t seem overly complicated. Great recommendation!

I absolutely loved this book, Barbara. Thanks for the great suggestion. It is unbelievable what happened during those years in Paris and this book tells the story well. That reminds me of one I just read that I am going to add as well– All The Light We Cannot See. THE best book I’ve read in a very long time.

This books is the story of a blind French girl and a German soldier during World War II. The imagery and the writing are truly amazing. The author really captures the blind girl’s confidence and perceptions of the world without eyesight, and the contrast between the upbringings of the two main characters is also striking. I absolutely recommend it!!!

4 responses to “What I’m Reading”

  1. Great idea Marty! Here are some of my favorites (typing as I awake here in Paris):

    The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein: Wonderful look at life, art and the intellectual scene in Paris in the early 20th century.

    A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke: Hilarious look at life in Paris from a very funny British writer.

    The Sweet Life in Paris by David Leibovitz: More funny and incredibly accurate tips and anecdotes about living in and visiting Paris, along with fabulous recipes by this ex-pat American pastry chef. He also has a great blog.

    1. Karen,
      great suggestions! I will include those in my list!

  2. Barbara Schmitt Avatar
    Barbara Schmitt

    Also, a bit difficult to read but well worth it: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. A wrenching story of Paris during the Holocaust. Absolutely haunting. Alas, my French is not good enough to read it in the original!

    1. Yes, you’re right, Barbara. That was a great book and in fact, I enjoyed going to find the plaque in the Marais area that memorializes those children that were taken.

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