Springtime in Paris | Mechanics' Institute

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Springtime in Paris

Don’t you wish you could be spending springtime in Paris?  I do!!  Unfortunately, the closest I can get to Paris this year will be through books and my imagination. Therefore, the current selection of Staff Picks will feature titles set in Paris. As Audrey Hepburn once said “Paris is always a good idea”, and it seems like the staff at the Mechanics’ Institute agrees with her because there are lots of great suggestions this month. Pick up a title or two from the 2nd floor display and transport yourself to The City of Light. If you are lucky enough to be going there yourself this year..... Please Take Me With You!!

Kristin recommends:

(700.92 L265)  Paris portraits : stories of Picasso, Matisse, Gertrude Stein, and their circle by Harriet Lane Levy  -  What fun it must have been to attend one of Gertrude Stein’s salons and to have cocktails with Hemmingway while admiring a Matisse painting or trying to figure out what it was about Picasso’s art that made it unsightly yet alluring at the same time. The stories in this book give us an insider’s look into that salon.

(641.01 L525) The sweet life in Paris : delicious adventures in the world's most glorious - and perplexing - city by David Lebovitz  - Pastry chef and cookbook author, David Lebovitz’s trials and tribulations about moving to Paris and learning how to cook in a foreign kitchen. If you enjoy his often humorous adventures in the Parisian kitchen, be sure to check out his blog.


And to quote Heather, “Please don’t ask me to tell you what my favorite thing about Paris is (it’s the multitude of carousels, mais oui). There are so many things to love, from the fashion to the food, to the language itself. Here are a few of my picks to transport you to la belle ville this Spring: 

(810.8 A513)  Americans in Paris : a literary anthology by Adam Gopnik  -  This anthology distills 300 years of writings by Americans about a city that captures our imagination, has, in the past, embodied our revolutionary spirit, and continues to influence our ideas about art, fashion, and culture. From Thomas Jefferson to Cole Porter, this mosaic of impressions attempts to show Americans’ strong reactions to the city of light.

(641.865 P232)  Paris patisseries : history, shops, recipes  photography by Christian Sarramon ; foreword by Pierre Hermé  - Ladurée is my personal favorite pastry shop in Paris, but you might also consider the delectations of La Pâtisserie des Rêves, Des Gâteaux et du Pain, or Café Pouchkine. Pictures pretty enough to eat!

(391 M334)  Queen of fashion : what Marie Antoinette wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber  -  Okay, this one’s not strictly about Paris, since Mme. Antoinette lived at Versailles, but her avante-garde sartorial selections would influence not only the Paris fashion scene of her own era – but, I would argue, established Paris as the fashion capital of the world. This is an unusual biography – a biography of clothing, and how the young Dauphine used her wardrobe to cement her political position in an era of upheaval.

(920.72 L769)  Paris and her remarkable women  by Lorraine Liscio  -  Learn about sixteen exceptional women whose lives intersected with Paris in remarkable ways and whose eventual fame depended on the city itself.

(447 J787)  Parisienne French : chic phrases, slang and style  by Rhianna Jones  -  From the publisher: “Parisienne French will have you cultured, chic and, most importantly, casually chatting with locals as if you were raised in the City of Lights. With refined phrases to express yourself at the Musée d’Orsay, posh vocabulary for catching up on this season’s couture fashion and hip slang for flirting at the hottest nightclub, you’ll effortlessly navigate the social scenes of Paris. Your new eloquent French will win over any vrai patriote, who will warmly welcome you to la vie parisienne.” I couldn’t agree more.

(305.4 B491)   How to be Parisian wherever you are : love, style, and bad habits  by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Sophie Mas, Caroline De Maigret  -  This book is full of high comedy – showing how the ability to take oneself unseriously is a hallmark of the French je ne sais quoi.

Taryn recommends:

(944.36 D326)  How Paris became Paris : the invention of the modern city  by Joan E. DeJean  -   What makes Paris so wonderful? Smart urban planning!

(944.36 R631)  Parisians an adventure history  by Graham Robb  -  An interesting collection of historical vignettes about the world's favorite city.

(FIC)  The Belly of Paris by Émile Zola  -  Another extraordinary installment in Zola's Rougon-Macquart series series.  This one hits you square in the stomach!

Paris is also one of Diane’s favorite cities and some of her favorite fiction books set in that beautiful city are:

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
The Paris Wife by Paula McClain
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Sou is hoping to find the time to read  The Hundred Foot Journey  by Richard Morias

Erik’s Graphic Novel suggestions are:

(741.5 M214)  750 years in Paris by Vincent Mahe  and

(741.5 P971)  Cruising through the Louvre  by David Prudhomme

Erik also suggests some music to go with your reading:

Cafe de Paris [sound recording] : 75 grands succes francais  (CD Pop Cafe)

Rendezvous à Paris [sound recording]  (CD Jazz Rendezvous)

Chet Baker in Paris [sound recording] : a selection from the legendary Barclay sessions, 1955-1956  (CD Jazz Baker)

And in case you were wondering, in Paris in 2015 there were:

  • 1,784 bakeries
  • 1,124 bars and
  • 9,054 open terraces (of a bar, café, or restaurant)
  • If you were to spend each day of your life visiting a different one it would take 30 years to see them all!

Au Revoir!


Posted on Apr. 10, 2017 by Kristin McCarthy