Paris Bookshelf: Good Books About Paris

April 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm 8 comments


(Updated 2020)

Here are a few of my favorite books set in, written in, or written about Paris. I’m also including a number of books that I have not actually read yet, but that have been recommended to me, or that I wish to read. New recommendations for this list, or comments on the books here, are most welcome! Wherever possible, I’ve provided the link to the author’s website, in the hopes that you will go through there to learn more about the book and/or to purchase it. I hope you’ll consider buying books from your local independent booksellers, or online from my favorite independent booksellers, Politics & Prose, and Bonjour Books DC in the U.S., and the Red Wheelbarrow bookstore in Paris. We all need to help independent bookstores keep their doors open and their shelves full of good books. (Note: I apologize for the spacing glitches. I have to admit, WordPress has me stumped ūüė¶ JH)

Fiction, Literary Nonfiction, and Poetry
A Moveable Feast¬†by Ernest Hemingway (I recommend the ‚Äúclassic‚ÄĚ 1964 edition, not the new “restored” one. Want to know why? See my post¬†Will the Real Moveable Feast Please Stand Up?)¬†Also,¬†The Sun Also Rises, called “the quintessential novel of the Lost Generation.”

A Year in the Merde and other books by Stephen Clarke

Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology edited by Adam Gopnik

An Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi

Being Geniuses Together: 1920-1930 by Robert McAlmon, with supplementary chapters by Kay Boyle

Best Paris Stories edited by Laurel Zuckerman

Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood

Black Spring and Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

The Bookseller and other books by Mark Pryor

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

French Like Moi: A Midwesterner in Paris  Scott Dominic Carpenter

Giovanni‚Äôs Room by James Baldwin (Also “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon,” in the short story collection Going to Meet the Man)

Haunting Paris by Mamta Chaudhry

Le Divorce by Diane Johnson (also Le Mariage, L’Affaire, and Lorna Mott Comes Home)

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Murder in the Marais and other Aimee Leduc mysteries by Cara Black

Our Paris and The Flaneur by Edmund White

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France; and Let Them Eat Pancakes by Craig Carlson

Paris by Julian Green

Paris Poems by Jim Barnes

Paris France and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

Paris on Air: A Memoir by Oliver Gee

Paris, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light   David Downie

Paris to the Moon   Adam Gopnik

Paris Was Ours (ed. Penelope Rowlands) 

Paris Was Yesterday and the Paris Journals by Janet Flanner

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain

The Parisian by Isabella Hammad

Parisian Life: Adventures in the City of Light  Edith de Belleville

Playground for Misunderstanding by Ellen Hampton

Rendezvous Eighteenth and Ghosts of St. Michel by Jake Lamar

Sarah’s Key and  The House I Loved  Tatiana De Rosnay

Satori in Paris by Jack Kerouac

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovksy

Travelers‚Äô Tales Paris¬†and Travelers’ Tales France¬†edited by James O’Reilly, Larry Habegger, and Sean O’Reilly

Walking on the Ceiling by Asegul Savas

The World at Night, Red Gold, Mission to Paris and other novels by Alan Furst 

History, Biography, Scholarly Works 

And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris Alan Riding

Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation  Charles Glass

Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast: The Making of Myth¬†by Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin

French Connections: Hemingway and Fitzgerald Abroad edited by J. Gerald Kennedy and Jackson R. Bryer

From Harlem to Paris: Black American Writers in Paris 1840-1980 by Michel Fabre

The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough

Hemingway: The Paris Years by Michael Reynolds

Imagining Paris: Exile, Writing and American Identity by J. Gerald Kennedy

Is Paris Burning? Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre

La Belle France: A Short History Alistair Horne

Paris in American Literature by Jean Méral

Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light by Tyler Stovall

Paris Was Yesterday: 1925-1939 and Paris Journal 1944-1955 Janet Flanner

Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway’s First Wife¬†by Gioia Diliberto

Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb

Seductive Journey: American Tourists in France from Jefferson to the Jazz Age by Harvey Levenstein

When Paris Went Dark: Paris Under German Occupation 1940-44  by Ronald Rosbottom

Women of the Left Bank: Paris 1900-1940 by Shari Benstock

Literary guidebooks, collections of quotes, historical anecdotes, etc.

A Literary Paris: Hemingway, Colette, Sedaris and Others on the Uncommon Lure of the City of Light edited by Jamie Cox Robertson (Adams Media, 2010)

A Place in the World Called Paris edited by Steven Barclay (Chronicle Books, 1994)

A Writer’s Paris: A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul Eric Maisel (Writer’s Digest Books, 2005)

Americans in Paris: An anecdotal street guide to the homes and haunts of Americans from Jefferson to Capote) Brian N. Morton (William Morrow, 1986)

Literary Paris: A Guide by Jessica Powell (The Little Bookroom, 2006)

Literary Paris: Photography and Commentary by Jeffrey Kraft (Watson-Guptill, 1999)

Paris to the Past: Traveling through French History by Train   Ina Caro (W. W. Norton, 2011)

Paris: Wish You Were Here Edited   Christopher Measom and Timothy Shaner (Welcome Books, 2008)

Paris: An Inspired Anthology and Travel Resource Collected   Barrie Kerper (Collected Traveler Series)

The Parisian Cafe: A Literary Companion edited by Val Clark (Universe Publishing, 2002)

A note:¬† I am well aware that this list is very U.S.-centric, and also for the most part limited to the 20th and 21st centuries. (There’s a good reason for that, which I won’t go into right now.) But this list is a work in progress: I add to it as I discover new things, and as new books are published. You may want to also check out my France Bookshelf, for some great reading about the rest of France; or Demystifying the French: A Reading List, for help understanding France and the French way of life.
Happy reading and a¬†bient√īt!
Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor and teacher of writing and literature who divides her time between France and the United States.  She teaches literature courses in Paris for the Education Abroad program at Queens College, CUNY, and offers Writing from the Heart workshops in a beautiful little village in the Champagne region of France. She also occasionally teaches classes at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC. 

Entry filed under: About France, About Paris. Tags: , , , , .

Will the real Moveable Feast please stand up? Hawaii Bookshelf

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Barbara Monks  |  May 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Just found your website…love it.
    Recently read: A guide to Paris and her Remarkable Women
    by Lorraine Lisco 2009 The Little Bookroom, NY

  • 2. Janet Hulstrand  |  May 23, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Thank you so much, Barbara! Glad you like my blog.

    And that is a title I don’t know, thank you so much for telling me about it!

  • 3. theladyd  |  September 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm


    I would life to add to your list of Paris books:
    BLACKGAMMON by Heather Neff

    Fun books!

    Enjoy your day,

    • 4. Janet Hulstrand  |  September 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm

      Thanks, D. I agree completely with your opinion of Jake Lamar’s books (and in fact they are both already on the list). I had not heard of the book by Heather Neff. I will definitely check it out and maybe add that too. Thanks so much for these suggestions!

  • 5. Cheryl Mueller  |  March 27, 2020 at 1:34 am

    What a delightful discovery for me (particularly in self-quarantine). I am going to look at all of your recommendations that I don’t already know!

    Merci! Merci! Merci!

    Cheryl Mueller

    I do love the Politics and Prose Bookstore

    • 6. Janet Hulstrand  |  March 27, 2020 at 6:26 am

      Thanks, Cheryl! Enjoy all that good reading! (And did you know you can order online from Politics and Prose? ūüôā )

  • 7. TripFiction  |  May 15, 2021 at 9:30 am

    You are pulling together a great list there! Wonderful for literary tourism!

    • 8. Janet Hulstrand  |  May 15, 2021 at 9:46 am

      Well I believe reading books set in places is one of the best ways to travel. Whether you’re on the road or sitting at home ūüôā


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