Wednesday, December 02, 2015

What we're reading: Paris Fact

With Paris in the news, many of us have wondered about that indefinable something that makes the city so memorable and so beloved. While reading about it isn't quite the same, some of these books may offer at least a partial explanation for why Paris is not just the City of Light, but of architecture, literature, food, fashion, museums...

How to be Parisian, Wherever You Are, by Anne Berest
Written by four French women, talented bohemian iconoclasts with careers in the worlds of music, film, fashion and publishing, who are untypically frank and outspoken as they debunk the myths about what it means to be a French woman today, and share original views on style, beauty, culture, attitude and men.

How Paris Became Paris:
The Invention of the Modern City, by Joan E. DeJean
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Paris had not yet put its brand on urban space, but within 100 years it would be transformed. It was the first city to tear down its fortifications, and its urban planning showcased new kinds of streets, including the original boulevard, as well as public parks and the earliest sidewalks and bridges without houses. Venues opened for urban entertainment of all kinds, from opera and ballet to recreational shopping. Paris installed the earliest public transportation and street lighting, and was Europe's first great walking city.A century of planned development made Paris both beautiful and exciting, giving people reasons to be out in public as never before and as nowhere else, and it gave Paris its modern identity as a place that people dreamed of seeing.

Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik
"When they die," Oscar Wilde wrote, "all good Americans go to Paris." According to Adam Gopnik, some of us have always tried to get there early and beat the crowds. In 1995, Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left New York City for Paris. The columns he wrote for his newspaper "back home" explored the dual processes of navigating a foreign city and becoming a parent, with new routines, new languages, and a new set of rules by which everyday life is lived.

Paris in Love, by Eloisa James
Taking a sabbatical from Fordham University, where she is better known as Shakespearean scholar and professor Mary Bly, Eloisa James and her husband sold their New Jersey home and (with their two teenage children) set off for a year in Paris. James planned to work industriously on various literary projects, but instead found herself musing about food, fashion, and family--the simple pleasures of chic and captivating Paris. This book is the result.

The Hotel on Place Vendome:
Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris,
by Tilar J. Mazzeo
Paris's Hotel Ritz: Betrayal, resistance, collaboration, and celebration, featuring an alluring who's-who of writers, artists, and military powers through the lens of this grand hotel.

Paris Was Ours: Thirty-two Writers Reflect on the City of Light,
Penelope Rowlands, ed.
In 32 personal essays, the writers describe how they were seduced by Paris: how they came to write, to cook, to find love, to study, to raise children, to escape, or to live the way it's done in French movies, from the United States, Canada, and England; from Iran, Iraq, and Cuba; and--a few--from other parts of France. And why they stayed, outsiders becoming insiders, sharing their observations and revelations. Together, these essays add up to a multifaceted portrait of a city: Paris.

Seven Letters from Paris, by Samantha Verant
Jobless, childless, and in a rocky marriage, Sam digs out seven letters sent to her 20 years earlier by Jean-Luc Verant, love letters from Paris from a man whose heart she had stolen in just one day so long ago, and sets about rekindling the romance.

Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, by Edmund White
Fame, money and sex: 15 years in the life of novelist, essayist, biographer, and "archaeologist of gossip" Edmund White, from 1983 to 1998.

If you want more about Paris, from its role in World War to the story of Euro Disney, Burbank Public Library has 100 more books on the subject--look in our catalog today! (Hint: Put "Paris" in the "subject" box, and choose "nonfiction" from the "location" drop-down menu.) And that's just the nonfiction...if you want a novel with a Paris setting, a list of those is coming soon...

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