A Paris Year by Janice MacLeod

Author: Janice MacLeod
Publish date: June 20, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group
Pages: 272
Genre: Travel, Memoir

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A Paris Year is usually the first book I recommend when I learn someone is going to Paris for the first time. The author, Janice MacLeod, is a watercolorist as well. So this book is absolutely gorgeous. This book reads like a diary. When the author moved from Canada to Paris, she began to document each day through art and journaling. Each page is filled with sketches, watercolor painting, and photographs to accompany the journal entry for the day. You’ll notice that as the seasons change in the book, so do the colors on the pages.

You could easily sit down in one or two sittings and devour this visual journey. Or savor it, reading just one journal entry for each corresponding day.

photo of inside A Paris Year by Janice MacLeod
original artwork of the Eiffel Tower inside A Paris Year by Janice MacLeod
back cover of A Paris Year book

Five reasons to read A Paris Year

  1. Original artwork: Janice is an insanely talented artist and each page is filled with an intimately unique view of Paris.
  2. French name days: I didn’t even know this was a thing until I read this book. But the French have a name day for every day in the year. Janice points out the name day on each page.
  3. Easy read: Let’s face it, sometimes it’s nice to just open a book and escape into something easy. Let your mind rest. This will do it. You can get lost in Paris for hours without even realizing it.
  4. Unique view: Because this is written like a diary, it’s literally day to day life in Paris: the man doing mathematics with a fountain pen at the cafe (January 11), typical market days consist of taste testing and gossiping (April 13), and that you can find the best buttons, ribbons, and zippers in the boutiques around the corner from Moulin Rouge (April 1).
  5. History: Janice is not from Paris, she’s Canadian. so while she was living in Paris, she did research on why things were the way they were. For example, she learned that Napoleon III was the man behind the muted beige and blue apartment buildings (March 2). And that booksellers on the Seine selling vintage books, must hold a librarian’s degree or something similar – comme c’est magnifique (September 12).

My rating: 5/5

France: Paris by Julian Green

Author: Julian Green (J.A. Underwood – translator) (also spelled Julien)
Publish date: January 1, 1983
Pages: 153
Genre: Memoir

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“I shall always see Paris as a novel that will never be written.”

How could I resist a book titled Paris? I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this book. But I’m so glad I picked it up.

My copy of Paris by Julian Green is a pre-loved book – and that makes my happy. Inside the book, there is a handwritten note that says, “With love from Mama & Steve XMAS ’93” I just love that someone had this copy and read it nearly 30 years before me.

I actually discovered this book through another book I read recently. Elaine Sciolino references Paris in her book, The Only Street in Paris: Life on Rue des Martyrs. I researched it and was able to find a copy. So glad I did!

Green was born in Paris to American parents, therefore, he wrote mostly in French. My copy of the book is in French and English – which was fun. I got to test my language skills (still lacking!) along the way.

Paris is a beautiful read. Green very clearly loved the city and at the same time was terrified of how much it was changing. Essentially a series of letters and short stories about Paris, this book was written over the course of decades (before the war all the way through the 1980’s). Lots changed in those decades and he struggled with it.

Paris possesses a beauty that alarms me at times because I feel it is fragile, under threat.

This is such an intimate view of the city. Written with great care and detail. Green’s writing style is poetic and tender. If you take the time to slow your reading and savor his words, you’ll fall deeper in love with the City of Light.

Paris is a loath to surrender itself to people who are in a hurry; it belongs to the dreamers, to those capable of amusing themselves in its streets without regard to time when urgent business requires their presence elsewhere; consequently their reward is to see what others will never see.

My rating: 5/5 beautiful stars