Ever since Donna Morris and I started planning a group trip to Paris for this summer, I’ve been devouring books about Paris. Here are some of my favorites:
The Hare with the Amber Eyes: a Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal. A history of a wealthy Jewish family, much of the book is set in the Parc Monceau neighborhood of Paris a century ago (our neighborhood for the July Paris trip).
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David G. McCullough. The stories of many American artists, writers, architects and doctors who visited Paris in the 19th century.
Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation by Charles Glass. The story of famous and not-so-famous Americans who elected to stay in Paris through the occupation.
Portraits of France by Robert Daley. A former news magazine writer explores fascinating corners of France and its history, some of it in Paris. A great read.
Parisians: an Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb. A series of true stories about important people in Paris’s history – with details you’ve never heard before.
The Hemingses of Monticello: an American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed. Although this book is primarily about Thomas Jefferson’s relationship to Sally Hemings and her family, much of it is set in Paris.
Paris under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910 by Jeffrey Jackson. If you’re interested In civil engineering and the history of city administration, this is the book for you.
Memoir and Essays
My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme. Alas, we can’t visit the Paris of the ‘50s when Julia was there, but we can yearn.
The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City by David Lebovitz. American pastry chef moves to Paris and relates his adventures. You might also want to start following his excellent food blog.
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: a Pedestrian in Paris, by John Baxter. A literary tour guide reflects on his experiences in Paris.
A Moveable Feast: the Restored Edition by Ernest Hemingway. Sketches of Paris after World War I.
60 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: Why We Love France But Not the French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow. A highly opinionated explanation of French culture.
Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull. A young Australian woman marries and moves to Paris – and learns how to navigate French culture.
Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. New Yorker writer lives in Paris for five years and sends back dispatches on life there.
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. A WWII novel about a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student; much of the book is set in Paris.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. A contemporary woman discovers a tragic story of the Holocaust linked to her Paris apartment.
Murder in the Marais by Cara Black. This the first in her series of contemporary mysteries set in Paris.
Abundance: a Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund. Versailles was only a few miles outside of Paris, and this historical fiction is beautifully imagined.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley in the 20s.
Hungry for Paris: the Ultimate Guide to the City’s 102 Best Restaurants by Alec Lobrano. Lobrano reviews distinguished restaurants in Paris (though published in 2008). His website has lots of recent reviews.
Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris by Clotilde Dusoulier. Advice on eating in Paris, from tea shops to markets and restaurants, by a French food blogger.
The Patisseries of Paris: Chocolatiers, Tea Salons, Ice Cream Parlors and More by Jamie Cahill and Alison Harris. Though published in 2008, so not the very latest info, a delicious dive into all things sweet.
Paris Patisseries: History, Shops, Recipes edited by Ghislaine Bavoillot. A gorgeous picture book with stories and recipes from some of the best-known patisseries in the city.
Marling Menu-Master for France by William E. Marling. This little book is both horribly out-of-date and extremely annoying to use, but it will help you avoid eating horse, tripe and gizzards while in Paris.