I’m a New Yorker through and through, but there’s just something about Paris that makes me consider cheating on my home city. Maybe it’s the food, the architecture, the history, the romance. Okay, fine, maybe it’s all of those things. But more than anything, it’s the way you can read your way through the side streets and iconic attractions. When I was there last fall, there were countless opportunities to get lost in the stories of the city. Here are the books—fiction and nonfiction—I brought with me (with photographic evidence!), plus a few extra titles to try for your next travel itinerary.
“The novel contains all the hallmarks of a modern French classic: quirky characters prone to fatalistic philosophical musings, action set against the florid backdrop of a ritzy hôtel particulier in bourgeois Paris, vivid voyeuristic depictions of the residents’ interior lives—and just a touch of playful pretention.”
Sarah and her family were brutally arrested by the French police in the 1942 Vel’ d’Hiv roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment. As the sixtieth anniversary approaches, a journalist finds herself compelled to retrace Sarah’s ordeal, from the terrible days in the Vel’ d’Hiv to the camps and beyond, and stumbles upon a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah.
Read a Classic by an Author of Color
Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
Between 1830 and 1900, hundreds of Americans—including Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Oliver Wendell Holmes—traveled to Paris, and their experience abroad dramatically shaped them in ways that would later affect their contributions to art, medicine, politics, and more upon their return to the United States.