I love Paris to the Moon, I loved it the first time I read it in the early 2000s. It captures a particular moment in Paris, one that I suspect is no longer relevant. For example, it is true that in the late 1990s bistro food was not good. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. And for a place where many, many people had written home about the food? That wasn’t good. Now, I suspect, the daily food scene is better.
I re-read the essays this time, surprised at how much I remembered from a book I haven’t read in probably a decade. In no particular order: the caramelized tomatoes, how watching too much soccer makes it impossible to find the puck in a hockey game, the way you choose the place where you will give birth in a different country – re-reading these essays was like visiting an old friend.
Mostly, I love the overall vibe that he shows Paris having, not an overly romantic or easy one, but one of enjoying a life well-lived. A life where care is taken over the details like food or the park, and the way philosophy can invade the most basic of questions.
If you’re looking for a set of essays that show Paris as a place where you can actually live rather than as a romantic image of itself? Paris to the Moon is your book.
Everything Everything is a very sweet YA romance that I quite liked. There’s a girl, Maddie, who is allergic to everything and can’t leave the house. Ever. She is shockingly well adjusted and ok with this – she knows it keeps her safe and alive. But then a Boy moves in next door and everything changes. They communicate via text and email and then he comes over and she decides she needs more.
It’s a delightful, specific story about two people falling in love for the first time, and if you like romance novels, it’s a good one.
Becky Chambers writes charming science fiction novels that are primarily about all of the forms that love and family take, and Record of a Spaceborn Few is no exception.
Humans have long since left Earth and been integrated into Galactic society, but there are people who still live on the ships they first set out on, constantly improving and working on and changing those ships so people can continue to live comfortably on them. (And in a great touch: those ships are built from dismantled skyscrapers and other buildings and city structures from Earth – the Golden Gate Bridge or the Chrysler Building could be part of any ship.)
The plot comes from the fact that humans are relatively poor and technologically backwards and the Fleet is essentially that small town every teenager wants to leave for the big, exciting city. But there is also at least one person looking to come back, looking for a place to belong.
“All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” – Tolstoy
(Not that the book is on par with Tolstoy, but the quote is relevant here.) Record of a Spaceborn Few is the story of the town and the people in it, full of warmth and love in many different forms. Definitely recommended.