Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Books on My Summer 2020 TBR: What I Hope to Read for Paris in July

What do I plan to read this summer?

(1) A book each day, even if it is simply a picture book. #bookaday

(2) At least one big book, over 400 pages. #bigbooksummer

(3) I will devote my July reading to Paris in July books. 

Sometimes I think I've read every good book set in Paris. But, of course, that is impossible, as new books are always being written. I took about thirty ebooks with me when I went to Paris last winter, and I finished a lot of wonderful stories including The President's Hat and Zola's L'Assommoir and Champagne Baby. What am I thinking about reading in July? I'm thinking about some classics, some picture books, children's middle-grade fiction, nonfiction, and cookbooks. Do you recommend any of these? Do you know of others I should read?

The Ambassadors by Henry James
"Lambert Strether, a mild, middle-aged American of no particular achievements, is dispatched to Paris from the manufacturing empire of Woollett, Massachusetts. The mission conferred on him by his august patron, Mrs. Newsome, is to discover what, or who, is keeping her son Chad in the notorious city of pleasure and to bring him home. But Strether finds Chad transformed by the influence of a remarkable woman. And as the Parisian spring advances, he himself succumbs to the allure of the 'vast bright Babylon' and to the mysterious charm of Madame de Vionnet."

Camille by Alexandre Dumas
"Men of great wealth bought her love. She gave it to only one. Marguerite Gautier, the greatest beauty in Paris, was known to all as "the Lady of the Camellias" because she was never seen without her favorite flowers. She was luxuriously kept by the richest men in France, who thronged to her boudoir to lay their fortunes at her feet. She lived violently, spending herself and her money in reckless abandon. She had many lovers, but she never really loved-until she met Armand Duval. Realizing that her only assets in life were her face and figure, Marguerite had learned how to make men pay. But what happens to a cool, calculating beauty when she herself suffers the wound of love?"

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
"In the contemporary Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality."

The Paris Hours by Alex George
 "One day in the City of Lights. One night in search of lost time. Paris between the wars teems with artists, writers, and musicians, a glittering crucible of genius. But amidst the dazzling creativity of the city's most famous citizens, four regular people are each searching for something they've lost. Camille was the maid of Marcel Proust, and she has a secret: when she was asked to burn her employer's notebooks, she saved one for herself. Now she is desperate to find it before her betrayal is revealed. Souren, an Armenian refugee, performs puppet shows for children that are nothing like the fairy tales they expect. Lovesick artist Guillaume is down on his luck and running from a debt he cannot repay-but when Gertrude Stein walks into his studio, he wonders if this is the day everything could change. And Jean-Paul is a journalist who tells other people's stories, because his own is too painful to tell. When the quartet's paths finally cross in an unforgettable climax, each discovers if they will find what they are looking for. Told over the course of a single day in 1927, The Paris Hours takes four ordinary people whose stories, told together, are as extraordinary as the glorious city they inhabit"

A Dash of Magic by Katherine Littlewood
"Twelve-year-old Rose Bliss and her siblings track down magical ingredients in Paris so Rose can compete in a baking challenge against her evil aunt and win back the family's magical cookbook."

French Exit by Patrick deWitt
"From bestselling author Patrick deWitt, a brilliant and darkly comic novel about a wealthy widow and her adult son who flee New York for Paris in the wake of scandal and financial disintegration. Frances Price - tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature - is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son Malcolm is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there's the Price's aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts. Putting penury and pariahdom behind them, the family decides to cut their losses and head for the exit. One ocean voyage later, the curious trio land in their beloved Paris, the City of Light serving as a backdrop not for love or romance, but self destruction and economical ruin - to riotous effect."

Painting Pepette by Linda Ravin Lodding
"In 1920s Paris, after Josette and her stuffed-animal rabbit Pepette encounter famous artists who try and paint Pepette's portrait, Josette realizes she is the perfect person to do the painting."

French Pastry Murder by Leslie Meier
"Tinker's Cove is abuzz with excitement when Norah, the queen of daytime TV, comes to town and selects Lucy and her pals to be featured in her "Women Who Make a Difference" episode. In recognition for their charitable work, the ladies and their husbands are awarded a dream vacation in Paris, complete with classes at Le Cooking School with renowned pastry chef Larry Bruneau. But their bon voyage is cut short when Lucy discovers the chef in a pool of blood on the second day of class. . . Lucy always dreamed of visiting Paris, but with Chef Larry on death's doorstep and Lucy and her friends detained for questioning, she's worried she'll be trading in her luxury accommodations for a sojourn in the bastille. If she's going to enjoy her vacation, she'll have to unpack her sleuthing skills and clear her name. Lucy's search for the truth takes her from the towers of Notre Dame to the gardens of Versailles and a dozen charming bistros in between. But will she be able to track down a killer more elusive than the perfect macaron?"

Five French Hens by Judy Leigh
"The best days of your life might be still to come... When 73-year-old Jen announces that she is going to marry Eddie, a man she met just a few months previously on a beach on Boxing Day, her four best friends from aqua aerobics are flabbergasted. The wedding is booked and, when the groom decides to have a stag trip to Las Vegas, the ladies arrange a hen party to beat all others -a week in the city of love, Paris. From misadventures at the Louvre, outrageous Parisian cabarets, to drinking champagne with a dashing millionaire at the casino, Paris lives up to all their hopes and dreams. But a week can change everything, and the women that come home have very different dreams from the ones who got on the plane just days ago. Funny, fearless and with a joie de vivre that reminds you to live every day like it's your last."

Bees in the City by Andrea Cheng
"Lionel wants to save Aunt Celine's bees. He feels the solution is the rooftop gardens and window boxes of his apartment neighbors in Paris."

A Confectioner's Tale by Laura Madeline
 "At the famous Patisserie Clermont, a chance encounter with the owner's daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air. But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins. Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words 'Forgive me.' Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal."

Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa by R. A. Scotti
"On August 21, 1911, the unfathomable happened–Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa vanished from the Louvre. More than twenty-four hours passed before museum officials realized she was gone. The prime suspects were as shocking as the crime: Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire, young provocateurs of a new art. As French detectives using the latest methods of criminology, including fingerprinting, tried to trace the thieves, a burgeoning international media hyped news of the heist. No story captured the imagination of the world quite like this one. Thousands flocked to the Louvre to see the empty space where the painting had hung. They mourned as if Mona Lisa were a lost loved one, left flowers and notes, and set new attendance records. For more than two years, Mona Lisa’s absence haunted the art world, provoking the question: Was she lost forever? A century later, questions still linger. Part love story, part mystery, Vanished Smile reopens the case of the most audacious and perplexing art theft ever committed. R. A. Scotti’s riveting, ingeniously realized account is itself a masterly portrait of a world in transition. Combining her skills as a historian and a novelist, Scotti turns the tantalizing clues into a story of the painting’s transformation into the most familiar and lasting icon of all time."

Dinner in French by Melissa Clark
"New York Times star food writer Melissa Clark breaks down the new French classics with 150 recipes that reflect a modern yet distinctly French sensibility."

Poilâne: The Secrets of the World-Famous Bread Bakery by Apollonia Poilâne

"To food lovers the world over, a trip to Paris is not complete without a visit to Poilâne. Ina Garten raves about the bread’s 'extraordinary quality.' Martha Stewart says the P in Poilâne stands for 'perfect.' For the first time, Poilâne provides detailed instructions so bakers can reproduce its unique 'hug-sized' sourdough loaves at home, as well as the bakery’s other much-loved breads and pastries. It tells the story of how Apollonia Poilâne, the third-generation baker and owner, took over the global business at age eighteen and steered it into the future as a Harvard University freshman after her parents were killed in a helicopter crash.
Beyond bread, Apollonia includes recipes for pastries such as the bakery’s exquisite but unfussy tarts and butter cookies. In recipes that use bread as an ingredient, she shows how to make the most from a loaf, from crust to crumb. In still other dishes, she explores the world of grains: rice, corn, barley, oats, and millet. From sunup to sundown, Poilâne traces the hours in a baker’s day, blending narrative, recipes, and Apollonia’s philosophy of bread."

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


  1. I am hoping to get to The Paris House...maybe!

  2. A Dash of Magic does sound interesting!

    My TTT .

  3. I do like Alex George so would love to try The Paris Hours. The other look quite interesting as well - nice variety.

  4. Good luck with your challenges! A book a day is amazing!

  5. I definitely want to read French Exit - I love Patrick deWitt! And Giovanni’s room is a brilliant book. Hope you enjoy all of these! 💛

  6. Hi there Debs! Me again! Love all your Paris books. That was my one wish for this year, to travel. I haven't been to Europe at all. Would love to read the book on the Mona Lisa theft. Wow.... My cup to tea.

    Thanks for your message on Sunday - I will definitely link up on Sunday.

    You are welcome to pay as a visit as well at https://elzareads.blogspot.com/

  7. Loving the French theme of your to-read list this summer :) I remember enjoying Dumas' Camille when I read it a few years ago. Happy reading!

    My TTT

  8. looks like you will be doing some traveling
    sherry @ fundinmental

  9. Excellent choices! I have French Exit on my kindle... July is the perfect time to read it!

  10. I love all the French books! I have Paris Apartment and Mastering the Art of French Eating coming up on my reading list and I'm looking forward to a little vicarious travel!

  11. A Dash of Magic sounds fun! Here is our Top Ten Tuesday.

  12. Good luck with your goals. They sound very ambitious. Your reading list would make me want to visit Paris for sure. I hope you enjoy all these.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  13. Oooh! All of these sound like interesting books! Great list!

    Here’s my TTT!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

  14. Your Paris list was titillating!

  15. I've not read any of these, but I've been hearing good things about The Paris Hours

  16. Apollonia Poilâne's book is wonderful. The recipes my husband (the bread-baker in the family) has tried were delicious. She's half American and half French, and wrote this in English for an American audience, which makes the recipes more accessible here.

    I think all the choices on your list except Poilâne's and the Dumas book were written by American or British authors, and like hers, written in English. I find it interesting that every year for Paris in July this is true for most of the books that people read. I'm always curious why this is the case.

    I haven't planned my reading list yet, but I've been thinking of reading (or rereading) something by James Baldwin.

    be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  17. Giovanni's Room sounds pretty good to me. Good luck with your challenge! I've never been to Paris in real life and can't say I've read many stories set there either.

  18. Nice list ... I'm interested in The Paris Hours which looks good .... and maybe I'll read a Baldwin book this summer too. I tried to get The Fire Next Time but everyone at the library seems to be wanting it too.

  19. I love reading big books as long as they are good stories.

  20. I love your dedication to Paris! If all goes well, I'll be there next summer (instead of next month... very sad). I think it's funny that James Baldwin's name is larger than the title of his book. :-)

  21. wow, already all ready to go! In July, I'll be reading along a novel in French with Lory @ Emerald City. It's https://www.goodreads.com/work/editions/21887836-compl-tement-cram, translated in many languages, but apparently not in English. A very popular author riht now, but I haven't read him yet, so I seized the opportunity.
    If you love (or your readers who see this) history and Marie Antoinette, I have review copies available for this July tour: https://francebooktours.com/2020/06/03/will-bashor-on-tour-marie-antoinettes-world/
    Or this book set in Provence: https://francebooktours.com/2020/06/10/paulita-kincer-on-tour-falling-for-provence/
    I'll be reading the one on Marie Antoinette, and I have 3 other books by French authors on my 20 Books of Summer list, so I will definitely spend time in France in July.
    And I just reviewed an awesome one, set in Paris: https://wordsandpeace.com/2020/06/16/book-review-three-hours-in-paris/

  22. Lots of interesting titles here for Paris in July. Will check some of them out. Especially Vanished Smile. I love an unsolved mystery.

  23. I haven't read many books set in France, so I don't have any recommendations for you. I hope you enjoy all your summer reads, though!

    Happy TTT (on a Saturday)!

  24. The Ambassadors is the only one I've read. It's quite good and typical Henry James. Several of the others look promising. I'll be keeping up just to get reading recommendations if nothing else. Pretty soon you'll be in Pariee--


  25. A good mix of genres in your list. Sara's Key is also partly set in Paris I think


I love to hear what you think.