My 10 All-Time Favorite French Books
Sunday August 6, 2017

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Shelves of French-inspired books, novels, historical fiction and culture do I have in my office, and this does not include all of the cookbooks in my kitchen.

Needless to say, new readers to the blog have been asking for my go-to, most recommended French reading material, so I pulled together a list of my top 10, minus cookbooks (as that is an entirely different difficult list to make). As you peruse down the list, you will notice, I couldn’t keep it entirely contained to 10, but I did my best.

1. A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle

As shown on my Instagram pic above, I am currently rereading Peter Mayle’s book which set off a whirlwind of French-inspired reading material, A Year in Provence, followed by Toujours Provence. The memoirs kept coming of his life in the south of France, and the readers still haven’t had enough. Will he write another? We can hope!

2. The French Beauty Solution by Mathilde Thomas

Released in 2015, Mathilde Thomas, the co-founder of the international French beauty brand Caudalie (which we will talk about later this week) shared a book full of ways to live, feel and look more radiant. It is a wonderful resource and a reminder of the many ways we can better care for our skin beyond pampering with lotions, masques and serums.

3. How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style & Bad Habits by Caroline De Maigret and three other French women authors

Since its original released in the states in 2014, I have reread this Parisian culture, how-to book many times. In fact, the entire fourth episode of the podcast is inspired by this book (10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile).

4. My Life in France by Julia Child

As I shared in episode #152’s Petit Plaisir, if you want to escape to France and have the tour guide of Julia Child and her vivacious energy and love for life, read this book. I only wish it were longer.

5. Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott

In 2012, I wrote the post Make Your Life a Formal Affair as I had read a New York Times review of Jennifer L. Scott’s book before her current publisher signed her on as one of their authors. I still have the paperback version with the simple, but sophisticated illustration on the front and upon reading it the first time, I couldn’t get enough. No wonder her publisher was intrigued.

6. French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork and Corkscrew by Peter Mayle

Yet another Peter Mayle memoir to not miss. Diving into the food culture of Provence, as only Peter Mayle does, be ever-more tempted to purchase that ticket to France.

7. Bonjour Happiness by Jamie Cat Callan

Jamie Cat Callan has two additional French-Inspired books to devour if you love Bonjour Happiness which I think you no doubt will. And in even more good news, she has a new book on the way! I cannot wait. It is titled Parisian Charm School, and it will be released on January 2, 2018.

8. M.L Longworth’s Verlaque & Bonnet Mystery series set in Provence

Death at the Chateau Bremont is the first in the series of five of M.L. Longworth’s wonderful cozy mystery series. The duo who solves the mysteries set in Aix-en-Provence is a couple: Antoine Verlaque, the chief magistrate of Aix, and his love interest, law professor Marine Bonnet. Both are written intelligently and thoughtfully. Both share an equal role in bringing the murderers to justice. Truly delicious reading. Her sixth in the series will be released on April 2, 2018, The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche. You can already pre-order.

9. French Women Don’t Get Fat & French Women Don’t Get Facelifts by Mireille Guiliano

Much like Peter Mayle’s many books, I had a hard time selecting my favorite from Mireille Guiliano because I sincerely enjoyed them all. But I had to certainly include the book that started her successful foray into writing, French Women Don’t Get Fat. I then chose French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, as it is similar to her other books, but also reminds me of The French Beauty Solution. I finished this book in one day at the coast and marked it up front to back cover. It served as part of my inspiration for this post, Feed Your Body Well.

10. Peter Mayle’s Caper Mystery series:

Each novel is a cozy mystery set somewhere in France, and always do I quickly devour the tale. Peter Mayle’s new foray into cozy French mysteries is a delight for my fictional predilections. As someone who typically gravitate towards non-fiction, both Mayle and Longworth offer playful, intelligent, scrumptious food descriptions and insights into the everyday lives of French culture all the while remaining focused on capers that always finish far too soon.

Now to be fair, I have a long list of French inspired books I love and would recommend, so be sure to check out TSLL’s Francophile Finds page to view all of my favorite French books as well as cookbooks, music and travel guides.

TSLL 2017 French Week continues through August 12th. Amusez-vous bien! 

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24 thoughts on “My 10 All-Time Favorite French Books

  1. One of my favorites is “My Paris Dream,” by Kate Betts, and of course Tish Jett’s “Forever Chic,” which came out before Guiliano’s “Facelift” book and is about aging beautifully.

  2. Some more suggestions:
    Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
    A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
    Parisian Chic by Inès de la Fressange
    In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (it took me three years to read the whole thing and I savored every word)

  3. Shannon, have you read Entre Nous by Debra Olivier? I think you would enjoy. LOVE M.L. Longworth’s mysteries and am so happy to see she is publishing another in 2018. I have read them all, thanks to your recommendation. I would also include the MFK Fisher’s books that take place in France. Great list!

  4. Peter Mayle’s books are sheer escapism. His book (turned film) A Good Year, ranks alongside Under the Tuscan Sun and Shirley Valentine as my all time favourite films. Best wishes.

  5. Shannon,
    I almost always read what you suggest, because I share many interests! thank you for this list. I have not read these all yet, cannot wait. The book, The Longevity Plan was awesome! I am starting Peter Mayle’s books right now! Thank you.

  6. I just discovered your blog a couple months ago and love it! I love Peter Mayle and love to read about the French lifestyle. I just finished The Little French Cottage by Helen Pillars and will be reading more of her books also. I look forward to your weekly email and podcast, it’s like a weekly treat without the calories. Thank you for coming into my life.

  7. I am looking for a book in french that is about father/daughter relationships
    I was hoping you could help
    thank you in advance

  8. All fabulous suggestions, Shannon! I would second “Entre Nous”, by Debra Oliver. In addition, I wanted to remind your readers about your interview with the author, ML Longworth, which was excellent.

  9. Yay! this is fun….I like the Oiseau Bleu teacup and saucer, Jasmine Tea, and How to be Parisian wherever you are… 🙂

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