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Thursday
Feb262009

New Paris Books

It doesn’t matter if you already have an entire bookcase of books about Paris, there are always more that deserve to find a spot on the shelf. This month I’ve got three on my “Reading”, “To Read” and “Have Read” lists (on GoodReads.com, if you’re interested):

I can’t wait to get the time to read Keith Spicer’s new book, “Paris Passions: Watching the French Being Brilliant and Bizarre”. I’ve read excerpts on his website (www.parispassions.com), and can breathe a sigh of relief that this book is a far cry from the clichéd and badly-written “expat-in-Paris” books that clutter bookstore shelves these days. It doesn’t hurt that Spicer is a seasoned Canadian journalist and editor living in Paris for over a decade (he first came to the city in the 1950s). Read an excellent review here.

I’m currently reading a review copy of City Lit Paris (Oxygen Books) which is coming out in March. Part of a series, it is a compilation of writings by famous writers from Victor Hugo and Marcel Proust to Kate Muir and Gertrude Stein. This formula isn’t new, but it’s a trim little paperback with some new voices like Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and a hilarious intro by Stephen Clarke. The excerpts are well chosen and easy to read while traveling, and of course the really good ones make me want to read more from the original works that were quoted.

Finally, I’ve finished reading John Baxter’s “Carnal Knowledge: Baxter's Concise Encyclopedia of Modern Sex” which was interesting for its French terms and pop (or should I say porn) cultural explanations that I wasn't familiar with, but less interesting for its somewhat low-brow tone and lack of any references, which makes me wonder “What’s so concise about it?” There are plenty of pictures, which seem, from my informal survey, to keep the boys happy. I preferred Baxter’s other book, “We’ll Always Have Paris”.

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