For our anniversary, as I mentioned on the day, Jamal bought me an anthology of essays about Paris, titled “Paris Was Ours.” My most recent foray into a book of collected essays before this one was “Writer’s on Writing,” which despite oodles of promise (it was culled from the New York Times) has proved to be pretty un-readable. The voices change too abruptly from author to author, there’s a lot of self-aggrandizing with little usable advice, and on and on. Thankfully, this is not the case at all in “Paris Was Ours.” It is a beautifully curated selection of 32 authors, with moving stories about struggling as poor expats in a city that held so much charm for them. It’s all excellently written, funny and tender and enlightening. There are continuous themes strung throughout each of the narratives, like having to press a button on each landing to turn the lights on as you ascend to your 7th floor apartment. I’m 200 pages in and have been already experiencing some tremors of dread about finishing it; I don’t want it to be over. Have you had that happen recently with a book you’ve read?
As an avid reader of Haven in Paris (surprising absolutely no one), I accidentally entered and won a giveaway of a book by new author April Lily Heise, “Je T’Aime, Me Neither.” I say “accidentally” because, as is often the case when I see photos of Paris, I got overwhelmed and swoon-y and didn’t exactly grasp it was a giveaway; I just commented on my favorite romantic spot in Paris (the gardens of the Musée Rodin, naturellement) et voila, I got an email saying I’d won a book. It arrived last week from the author herself, with a darling inscription on the front page.
I never win anything. Seriously, the last thing I won was an oversized Barq’s Root Beer t-shirt at a Bassett’s Turkey cafe when I was 12, and only because I spent the entire meal filling out slips and dropping them in the fishbowl. Oh, well, and there was that iPod I won at my company Christmas party. So sometimes I win things, but this is my first time winning something Paris related. “Je T’Aime, Me Neither,” so named for the Serge Gainsbourg song, is a fun, light summer read, about a young woman’s search for love and lust in Paris. The only thing that’s driving me slightly batty is that there are 24 exclamation marks in the first 10 pages alone (and we all know how I feel about exclamation marks) and too many ellipses. But as someone writing their own book set in Paris, it’s encouraging to see others succeed at the same task.
What are you reading these days?