OFF THE SHELF: French favourites

Column looks at Nancy Pearl and her Books to Read Before You Die

Nancy Pearl is a veteran Seattle librarian who has become famous in the library world for her passion for connecting readers to books.

Pearl’s books, with titles such as Book Lust:  Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason, Book Lust to Go:  Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds and Dreamers, and the Now Read This: A Guide to Mainstream Fiction series (now up to three titles) are treasure-troves of reading suggestions.

She is a frequent speaker at conferences and also shares her recommendations on National Public Radio in the U.S., and in a regular column in Publishers Weekly.

It seems there is very little that Nancy Pearl has not read, so when she creates a list of her favorite titles on a topic, you can be sure there’s nothing better.

Pearl’s regular lists in Publishers Weekly are called Books to Read Before You Die and in a recent issue, the topic was her favourite books, both fiction and non-fiction, set in France.

I’ve included the list below, along with Pearl’s comments.

Any titles not held by the Okanagan Regional Library may be available through inter-library loan.

Please ask at the information desk on either floor of the new Vernon branch.

The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir. A classic novel set in France following the Second World War, with a lightly fictionalized cast of characters, including Sartre, Camus, and the author herself.

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel. Probably the best novel about the French Revolution – yes, for my money even better than Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities.

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik.

This is a lovely non-fiction account of the Gopnik family’s sojourn in France in the 1990s.

Le Road Trip:  A Traveler’s Journal of Love and France by Vivian Swift. A great book you’ll want to savor over many cups of tea.

Narrow Dog to Carcassonne by Terry Darlington.  One of the funniest books I’ve ever read (and don’t miss the sequel, Narrow Dog to Indian River).

The Greater Journey:  Americans in Paris by David McCullough.  It’s McCullough – ‘nuf said.

Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era by Caroline Moorehead.  Lucie is probably the most interesting person you’ve never heard of.

Paris Out of Hand by Karen Elizabeth Gordon. A truly delightful novel by the author of The Deluxe Transitive Vampire.

Adele & Simon by Barbara McClintock.

One of my favourite children’s books, about a young brother and sister living in Paris in the 1880s.