How many books about Paris are there in the world, anyway?

Look y’all, I love Paris. I hated it the first time I went, but the follow-up was what it took. But I have kind of a low tolerance for books and writing and movies about Paris. Part of the reason I hated it the first time was because of the hype. There was no way any place could live up to all of the expectations that had been put on it in my head.

Not to mention that people’s experience of Paris is necessarily personal. What I loved about it – the joy of discovering that beauty matters and can co-exist with the realness of everyday living, and that everyday living is worth making beautiful – isn’t what someone else likes about it. Books and stories and television shows and movies and instagram photos will communicate either a generic beauty (tiresome) or what someone else loves about the city (more interesting).

A Year in Paris is falters when it falls into the overdone Paris tropes, but is interesting when it’s talking about things that John Baxter, writer, finds interesting – the food, the Republican calendar, the respect for seasons and how life changes due to the seasons in a way it doesn’t in other places.

Overall, I enjoyed the book – it gave me a sliver of that joy of discovery from the trip where I fell in love with it. And I discovered something else to enjoy about it. That’s maybe the most you can ask of a book about a place you love.

Prose that reads like poetry

Autumn is one of the more unusual books I have read lately. It’s the first of a planned quartet of books, one for each season. It’s British and Brexit and divide amongst people is one of the things it’s interested in. It’s also interested in time, and the cycles in which things repeat, but really, most strongly, I think this book is a 260 page long poem. It’s got plot, and it’s written in prose, but the imagery is SO STRONG and the words are so lyrical that it feels like poetry.

Set aside some time and find a quiet place and maybe a cup of tea and enjoy this book.