Demystifying the French: A Reading List

May 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm Leave a comment

For the past few weeks, my students at Politics & Prose and I have had a wonderful time, exploring together some of the most interesting differences between life in France and in the United States.

We’ve really only touched the tip of the iceberg, and I know some of my students are eager to learn more. So, for them and for anyone else who may find it helpful, here is a list of additional sources of information and perspective–through both nonfiction and fiction–on this endlessly fascinating topic.

Carroll, Raymonde Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience

DeTocqueville, Alexis Democracy in America

Druckerman, Pamela Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

Gopnik, Adam Paris to the Moon

Hampton, Ellen Playground for Misunderstanding

Greene, Jeffrey French Spirits: A House, A Village, and a Love Affair in Burgundy

Greenside, Mark I’ll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do)

Johnson, Diane Le Divorce (also Le Mariage and L’Affaire)

Nadeau, Jean-Benoit and Julie Barrow, Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong and The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed 

Platt, Polly French or Foe? Getting the Most Out of Visiting, Living, and Working in France and Savoir Flair: 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French

Ramsey, Rebecca French by Heart: An American Family’s Adventures in La Belle France

Sciolini, Elaine La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life 

Sedaris, David Me Talk Pretty One Day

Rochefort, Harriet Welty French Toast: An American in Paris Celebrates the Maddening Mysteries of the French, and Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the French

Stein, Gertrude. Paris France

Taylor, Sally Adamson Culture Shock! France: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette 

Wharton, Edith. French Ways and Their Meaning

This list includes a mix of genres: some practical or scholarly cultural guides, some memoirs or essays written by Americans who have spent time in France, even a few novels. I hope you find them both enlightening and enjoyable to read. (You may want to check out my Paris Bookshelf also, for more books about Paris, and my France Bookshelf, for more books about France.)

And do stay tuned. There will be more posts with tips for Demystifying the French from time to time. There’s lots more to say about that!

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and literature who divides her time between France and the United States.  She teaches literature courses in Paris, Hawaii and Cuba for Queens College, CUNY, and Writing from the Heart workshops in a beautiful little village in the Champagne region of France. She also leads book groups at the American Library in Paris.

Entry filed under: About France, Demystifying the French. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Demystifying the French: Tip #3 Merci et Au Revoir, Mme. Hellier…

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