Monday, November 11, 2013

Nonfiction November: Be the expert/Ask the Expert/Become the expert

I've just discovered Nonfiction November, hosted by Regular Rumination and Sophisticated Dorkiness. I'm a little late on the action, but joining in anyway! This weeks theme is Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert.

Be the Expert

I wouldn't consider myself a complete Francophile. BUT I'm married to a half Frenchman, have lived in France and have somehow ended up reading a whole lot of books on expat French living. Like, a whole lot. Here are my top picks (and a couple that really aren't, but are important anyway):
  • Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris, by Ann Mah: is my current favourite. I loved Mah's conversational tone as she moves through classic French dishes, while throwing in pieces of French history, language and anecdotes from her own life as a diplomat's spouse. 
  • My Life in France, by Julia Child: for a start, it's an absolute classic of the genre. Once you get past that, it's a lovely insight into the life of an amazing woman, with a nice anecdotal style. It also has an interesting historical perspective - Paul and Julia Child moved to France barely a year after the end of WWII, when the country was still very much in the depths of a long recovery.
  • Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris, by Sarah Turnbull: this is the French memoir that has so far struck a chord with me most on a personal level. Sarah is an Australian who falls in love with a Frenchman and struggles with many aspects of the French lifestyle. I'm a New Zealander who fell in love with a Frenchman and struggled with many of the same aspects (the judgement of how women dress etc) of life in France. It's charming, funny and possibly the most honest of my picks here. 
  • Lunch in Paris, by Elizabeth Bard: 'In Paris for a weekend visit, Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman--and never went home again.' This one is worth reading for the recipes. Bard has a talent for light and humorous writing, but also for simplifying classic French dishes into something achievable for the not-in-France cook.
  • A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle: I didn't enjoy A Year in Provence as much as I have many others of the genre, but this was the book that started it all - Mayle moved to Provence in the '80's to renovate a classic French stone cottage. It's descriptions of French food are positively drool-worthy. 
  • Secrets of a Lazy French Cook, by














15 comments:

  1. I loved your anthropology list - I know next to nothing about it but would like to, so I've added lots of the books you mentioned have gone on my wishlist.

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    1. Thanks! Some of them are a bit older, but I think most are still available. My favourite anthropology book that I've actually read is In Search of Respect by Philippe Bourgois - the 'characters' really leap off the page :-)

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  2. Wonderful lists! My sister adores France, so I can see suggesting some of those to her. Good luck with your big move -- I turn to familiar books and fiction when I need to read for comfort too :)

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    1. Thanks! Comfort reads are great :-)

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  3. I love Jared Diamond but haven't read any of his more recent books,so those definitely need to go on my TBR list too! Your list of books about France looks like a great collection and France is a country that's always interested me, so I think some of those will end up on my to-read list as well :) Although it sounds as though you haven't intentionally sought out a lot of books about France, if you're looking for more, I would recommend "How the French Invented Love" which had all sorts of crazy anecdotes and was a lot of fun to read.

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    1. How the French Invented Love sounds like great fun, I'll make sure to check it out! I've heard so many great things about Jared Diamond, it's really weird that I haven't actually managed to get around to reading any of his. . .hopefully soon!

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  4. Have you read DREAMING IN FRENCH? It's been on my TBR list for a while. It is about Jackie Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis and the formative years they spent in France. I think everyone harbors at least a slight love of France! Thanks for putting this together.

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  5. Awesome lists. I love French-themed books. I live vicariously through them since I'm too poor to actually move there myself. ;p

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  6. My Life in France is one of my favorite books. David Lebovitz's My Sweet Life in Paris was a fun read too.

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    1. My Sweet Life in Paris sounds great, adding to to the to-read list :-)

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  7. Nice French list. I'm an armchair traveler mostly, so I love books like this. A Moveable Feast made me want to read more about Paris (even though I normally dislike Hemingway). I also liked French Women Don't Get Fat, for its contrast between U.S. and French lifestyles.

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    1. I've heard good things about French Women Don't Get Fat - I've flicked through French Children Don't Throw Food, which is in a similar vein and was very interesting

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  8. This has been my year of reading about France, but I've only read the Julia Child book on this list -- I guess I better keep reading! Thanks!

    Joy's Book Blog

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    1. Good luck! There's plenty of great ones out there :-)

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    2. I came back to tell you about a book I can't put down right now -- Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr. It will fit right in to your France list.

      Joy's Book Blog

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