100 books like Elephant Slaves and Pampered Parrots

By Louise E. Robbins,

Here are 100 books that Elephant Slaves and Pampered Parrots fans have personally recommended if you like Elephant Slaves and Pampered Parrots. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The People of Paris: An Essay in Popular Culture in the 18th Century

David Garrioch Author Of The Making of Revolutionary Paris

From my list on the social history of eighteenth-century Paris.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Paris when I first went there and walked the streets for hours. It wasn’t the Haussman boulevards or the Eiffel Tower that captured my imagination, beautiful as they are. Rather, it was the older quarters and hidden corners that fascinated me. I wanted to know who lived there and what their lives were like. When I got the chance to do a PhD, that’s what I chose. After years in the different Paris archives, I still never get tired of uncovering their secrets. I’ve written four books about Paris and have plans for more!

David's book list on the social history of eighteenth-century Paris

David Garrioch Why did David love this book?

A wonderful evocation of many aspects of everyday life in Europe’s 2nd biggest city. Who were “the people” and where were they in the social hierarchy? This book looks at the beginnings of a consumer culture: what did ordinary families earn and what did this enable them to buy. Where and how did they live? How did working Parisians dress, what did they read, how did they spend their holidays? It’s all there!

By Daniel Roche,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The People of Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his collective portrait of the common people, Roche offers a rich and fascinating description of their lives--their housing, food, dress, financial dealings, literature, domestic life, and leisure time. Roche's highly readable style and use of contemporary quotations enliven the reader's view of eighteenth-century Paris and Parisians.


Book cover of The Smile Revolution: In Eighteenth Century Paris

David Garrioch Author Of The Making of Revolutionary Paris

From my list on the social history of eighteenth-century Paris.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Paris when I first went there and walked the streets for hours. It wasn’t the Haussman boulevards or the Eiffel Tower that captured my imagination, beautiful as they are. Rather, it was the older quarters and hidden corners that fascinated me. I wanted to know who lived there and what their lives were like. When I got the chance to do a PhD, that’s what I chose. After years in the different Paris archives, I still never get tired of uncovering their secrets. I’ve written four books about Paris and have plans for more!

David's book list on the social history of eighteenth-century Paris

David Garrioch Why did David love this book?

People have always smiled, right?  Wrong. Jones shows that in the early 18th century, open mouths were considered repulsive, partly because most people had terrible teeth.  He looks at dentistry in 18th-century Paris, at what the smile meant, at the reasons smiling became acceptable. But then it went out of fashion again, at least in public, until the 20th century. Brilliant.

By Colin Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Smile Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You could be forgiven for thinking that the smile has no history; it has always been the same. However, just as different cultures in our own day have different rules about smiling, so did different societies in the past. In fact, amazing as it might seem, it was only in late eighteenth century France that western civilization discovered the art of the smile. In the 'Old Regime of Teeth' which prevailed in western Europe until then, smiling was quite literally
frowned upon. Individuals were fatalistic about tooth loss, and their open mouths would often have been visually repulsive. Rules of…


Book cover of Journal of My Life

David Garrioch Author Of The Making of Revolutionary Paris

From my list on the social history of eighteenth-century Paris.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Paris when I first went there and walked the streets for hours. It wasn’t the Haussman boulevards or the Eiffel Tower that captured my imagination, beautiful as they are. Rather, it was the older quarters and hidden corners that fascinated me. I wanted to know who lived there and what their lives were like. When I got the chance to do a PhD, that’s what I chose. After years in the different Paris archives, I still never get tired of uncovering their secrets. I’ve written four books about Paris and have plans for more!

David's book list on the social history of eighteenth-century Paris

David Garrioch Why did David love this book?

The only first-hand account of life in Paris written by an artisan, matter-of-factly describing the city’s casual violence and bawdiness, the joys, and hardships, loves, and hatreds. Wonderfully translated, it captures a way of looking at the world that we’ve lost.  But also the thoughtfulness of a largely self-educated man who is loyal to family and friends, rejects conventional religious belief, and supports the French Revolution.

By Jacques-Louis Ménétra,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Journal of My Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An eighteenth-century Frenchman describes life in Paris, the events of the French Revolution, and his own fondness for pranks and jokes.


Book cover of Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France, 1675-1791

David Garrioch Author Of The Making of Revolutionary Paris

From my list on the social history of eighteenth-century Paris.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Paris when I first went there and walked the streets for hours. It wasn’t the Haussman boulevards or the Eiffel Tower that captured my imagination, beautiful as they are. Rather, it was the older quarters and hidden corners that fascinated me. I wanted to know who lived there and what their lives were like. When I got the chance to do a PhD, that’s what I chose. After years in the different Paris archives, I still never get tired of uncovering their secrets. I’ve written four books about Paris and have plans for more!

David's book list on the social history of eighteenth-century Paris

David Garrioch Why did David love this book?

Great on the opportunities and difficulties encountered by working women. Paris seamstresses had their own guild but struggled to maintain their autonomy. A lovely explanation of what they made, how the garment and fashion trade worked, and how individual seamstresses built careers in dressmaking, from apprenticeship to running their own business.

By Clare Haru Crowston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fabricating Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2002 Berkshire Prize, presented by the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians

Fabricating Women examines the social institution of the seamstresses' guild in France from the time of Louis XIV to the Revolution. In contrast with previous scholarship on women and gender in the early modern period, Clare Haru Crowston asserts that the rise of the absolute state, with its centralizing and unifying tendencies, could actually increase women's economic, social, and legal opportunities and allow them to thrive in corporate organizations such as the guild. Yet Crowston also reveals paradoxical consequences of the guild's success, such as how…


Book cover of Colette: Earthly Paradise

Marcia DeSanctis Author Of 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go

From my list on women in France.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a former television news producer who worked for Barbara Walters and Peter Jennings at ABC News, and at Dateline NBC and CBS’s 60 Minutes. I was always a journalist, but mid-career, I switched lanes from TV to writing. Since then, I've contributed essays and stories to many publications, among them Vogue, Travel & Leisure, The New York Times, BBC Travel, and others. I mostly write about travel, but also cover beauty, wellness, international development, and health. I'm the recipient of five Lowell Thomas Awards for excellence in travel journalism, including one for Travel Journalist of the Year. My book of essays, A Hard Place to Leave: Stories From a Restless Life comes out in May 2022.

Marcia's book list on women in France

Marcia DeSanctis Why did Marcia love this book?

The first time I went to Paris, I found a copy of this book at a bouquiniste on the Quai de la Tournelle. I can honestly say it has never left my bedside. Colette, born Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette in 1873, was a ferocious talent, a novelist, memoirist, journalist, and colossal French cultural figure until her death in 1954. Earthly Paradise is an autobiography in essays, and hers is an extraordinary story. Born in small-town Burgundy, she was a showgirl at the Moulin Rouge, a traveling performer, was married twice, lived as a lesbian for a decade, had a facelift in the 1920s and at the height of her literary fame, opened a beauty salon in Paris. She was to the core a sensualist and though she claimed to dislike feminism, she was a tower of female strength. But the reason this book—just one of her fifty-five—endures is her achingly gorgeous writing.…

By Colette,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Colette as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her own lifetime, and especially outside of France, Colette was best known as a novelist, as the creator of Cheri, Gigi, Claudine; and as such, her place in the ranks of 20th century French fiction is secure and very high, comparable among her contemporaries perhaps to that of Proust. Over the same half century, she published an even larger body of explicit autobiography - memoirs, portraits, notebooks, letters. Barely a decade after her death, it became clear that this aspect of her work, and the personality embodied there, would determine her place in literature. Drawn from some 40 books…


Book cover of Village to Village: Misadventures in France

Jesse Fink Author Of The Eagle in the Mirror

From my list on books by Australian writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in England to Australian parents and have lived most of my life in Australia. My family all live there, and I grew up in Sydney. Most of my books have been about Australian-related themes or historical figures. I don’t think enough is known about Australian history outside Australia. Australian writers have always struggled for recognition outside Australia. Publishing can be an unfair business. I’m more interested in reading nonfiction than fiction. True stories are much harder to write and get right, and there’s a bigger responsibility involved. You’re dealing with real people. The dead ones also have families.

Jesse's book list on books by Australian writers

Jesse Fink Why did Jesse love this book?

One of the original Aussie literary expats in the 1940s, Kershaw penned this slim but sparkling memoir of his time in Paris and rural France before his death in 1995.

It is superbly written and completely unknown. Grab a copy if you’re lucky enough to find it. It proves that books don’t have to be long to stick in the memory. Sometimes, the shortest ones are the best. 

By Alister Kershaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Village to Village as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this witty and entertaining illustrated memoir, Alister Kershaw describes the pleasures of his prolonged residence in France - a country of villages - from 1948, when even Paris was a series of villages. In post-war Paris, Kershaw lived a penniless but joyous existence and captures a Paris long gone. The author conjures Paris prior to the triumph of the technocrats and town planners. It also traces the author's move into the Berry, two hours south of Paris, where he lives in a hamlet of six houses and finds a rural life amongst a small group of traditional Sancerre winemakers.…


Book cover of Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris

Sharon Farmer Author Of Surviving Poverty in Medieval Paris: Gender, Ideology, and the Daily Lives of the Poor

From my list on the culture of France and medieval modern poverty.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started out as a religion major in college, but soon became frustrated with the abstract thoughts of privileged white males. I wanted to understand the passions and struggles of ordinary people, and soon became convinced that the examination of the distant past sheds important light on the present. It’s not that I don’t care about the world around me right now. Rather, I am convinced that those who look only at this decade, this century, or even the last century fail to recognize some of the most powerful cultural forces that have shaped our most fundamental understandings of gender, wealth, poverty, work, and so much more.

Sharon's book list on the culture of France and medieval modern poverty

Sharon Farmer Why did Sharon love this book?

If we want to understand medieval or modern Paris, we need to gain some familiarity with all of the stages along the way. Robb provides some episodic portraits of some of those stages, and the chapter on the eighteenth-century architect Charles-Axel Guillaumot is one of the most arresting discussions I’ve ever seen of how the actions of those living in one epoch can reverberate for generations to come. Guillaumot literally saved Paris from collapsing in on its medieval past by bracing up the swiss-cheese-like network of tunnels that had been left behind by its medieval quarry workers.

By Graham Robb,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Parisians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the Paris you never knew. From the Revolution to the present, Graham Robb has distilled a series of astonishing true narratives, all stranger than fiction, of the lives of the great, the near-great, and the forgotten.

A young artillery lieutenant, strolling through the Palais-Royal, observes disapprovingly the courtesans plying their trade. A particular woman catches his eye; nature takes its course. Later that night Napoleon Bonaparte writes a meticulous account of his first sexual encounter. A well-dressed woman, fleeing the Louvre, takes a wrong turn and loses her way in the nameless streets of the Left Bank. For…


Book cover of Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette

Jessica Stilling Author Of Between Before and After

From my list on a little Parisian flair.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an author currently living in rural southern Vermont, though I’ve also lived in Chicago and New York City. When I was a child I wanted nothing more than to visit the city of lights and when I finally started going, I was awestruck by the beauty and the history of the city of Paris. It’s the little things about Paris, the crooked cobblestone, the myriad of bookstores, the flowers along the boulevards, and those steel metro signs that look like you’re about to enter a terrifying circus. It all comes together in the most lovely ways. My newest novel, Between Before and After, is in many ways a love letter to the city.

Jessica's book list on a little Parisian flair

Jessica Stilling Why did Jessica love this book?

This biography of the famous French authoress Collette explores the sensuously Parisian life of the famed and inflammatory author. It explores many of her sensuous love affairs along with her fabulous accomplishments. This biography marches through time in Paris, from the Belle Epoch to the lean years of the World Wars, to the shining beacon Paris became in the later half of the twentieth century. Through the life of the indomitable authoress Collette, the city of Paris truly sparkles as we see that her history is so entwined with the city’s history.

By Judith Thurman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Secrets of the Flesh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who, from her first appearance in Paris salons as a child bride in 1900, scandalised and enraptured all of France.


Book cover of The Paris Winter

Lise McClendon Author Of Blackbird Fly

From my list on transporting you to France.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m American but I’ve been a Francophile for ages. I didn’t get a chance to visit France until well into adulthood. So much history lives in France and it’s been my joy to illuminate it for readers who tell me they feel transported. There is no higher compliment, in my mind. I’ve been writing novels for thirty years, set in the Rocky Mountains, America’s heartland, and the scenic villages of France. The Bennett Sisters Mysteries are now up 18 books in the series, featuring settings from Paris to Champagne to the Dordogne, with more in the works. I must go back to France to research, oui

Lise's book list on transporting you to France

Lise McClendon Why did Lise love this book?

I love weaving history into my mysteries so I was drawn to this dark tale of Paris in the Belle Époque. An English girl goes to Paris to study art but, desperately poor, throws her fate into the hands of some shady characters. The atmosphere and scene-setting of Paris during a terrible rainy winter are unforgettable. 

By Imogen Robertson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Paris Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Extra material includes a deleted scene and a Q&A with Imogen Robertson

Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academy to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris eats money. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling joys of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud takes a job as companion to young, beautiful Sylvie Morel. But Sylvie has a secret: an addiction to opium. As Maud is drawn into the Morels' world of elegant luxury, their secrets become…


Book cover of Kiki's Memoirs

Jim Fergus Author Of The Memory of Love

From my list on 1920’s Paris les années folles - the “crazy years”.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young boy, I dreamed of becoming a novelist. I was fascinated and inspired by Les Années Folles, The Crazy Years of 1920’s Paris, when artists of all disciplines, from countries all around the world came together electrifying the City of Lights with an artistic passion. My mother was French. France is my 2nd country, where I spend a portion of each year. While researching my novel, The Memory of Love, I stayed in the actual atelier of my protagonist Chrysis Jungbluth, a young, largely unknown painter of that era. I visited, too, the addresses of dozens of the artists who bring the era alive again in our imagination. 

Jim's book list on 1920’s Paris les années folles - the “crazy years”

Jim Fergus Why did Jim love this book?

This is an intimate, first-person account of 1920’s Paris, and the life of one of the most central characters of the period—the model, singer, and artist, Kiki of Montparnasse as she was known by all. Born in Burgundy in 1901, christened Alice Prin, and raised by her grandmother in abject poverty, at age twelve she was shipped off to Paris to live with the mother she had never known.

The young Alice’s fierce survival instincts immediately translated into a precocious thirst for experience. At fourteen she had her “first contact with art” when she began posing nude for a sculptor. Thereafter, she assumed the name and embraced life as the irrepressible Kiki. Lover of Man Ray, beloved friend of Soutine, Jean Cocteau, and many other artists of the period, she became the toast of Montparnasse, one of the century’s first truly independent women. Man Ray, Foujita, Kisling, and others immortalized…

By Billy Klüver (editor), Julie Martin (editor), Man Ray (photographer)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kiki's Memoirs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Featuring an introduction by Ernest Hemingway and published for the first time in America, the unexpurgated memoirs of a model who reigned over Montparnasse in the twenties created a sensation when they first appeared in France in 1929.


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