100 books like Left Bank

By Agnes Poirier,

Here are 100 books that Left Bank fans have personally recommended if you like Left Bank. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Paris: The Biography of a City

Katrina Lawrence Author Of Paris Dreaming: What the City of Light Taught Me About Life, Love & Lipstick

From my list on the history of Paris (and Parisians).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed with Paris since the age of five. For most of my life I’ve travelled there regularly and read every book on the subject I could find. After working as a beauty editor, I decided to try to make my passion my day job. That inspired me to write Paris Dreaming: What the City of Light Taught Me About Life, Love & Lipstick, and launch a travel consultancy business, Paris for Dreamers. I work with like-minded lovers of Paris, who constantly yearn for the city’s beguiling beauty and fascinating history, and who are always planning their next trip—or visiting Paris virtually, through the pages of a book!

Katrina's book list on the history of Paris (and Parisians)

Katrina Lawrence Why did Katrina love this book?

If you’re new to the history of Paris, this is an ideal book to start with. It’s a sweeping account of this fabled city’s story, from Roman times to the turn of the twenty-first century, but while lofty in aim it’s charmingly fun to read, the author being adept at packaging wide-ranging information into a fast-paced narrative. One neat feature is the way Jones highlights certain Parisians or Paris locations, giving them breakout sections that allow readers to delve deeper into the likes of Madame de Sévigné, Rose Bertin, and Josephine Baker. You realise that Paris is so much more than the sum of its stones. Yes, it’s about beautiful monuments, but just as much about the people who have breathed such life into Paris that their spirit lives on to this day.

By Colin Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Roman Emperor Julian, who waxed rhapsodic about Parisian wine and figs, to Henry Miller, who relished its seductive bohemia, Paris has been a perennial source of fascination for 2,000 years. In this definitive and illuminating history, Colin Jones walks us through the city that was a plague-infested charnel house during the Middle Ages, the bloody epicenter of the French Revolution, the muse of nineteenth-century Impressionist painters, and much more. Jones's masterful narrative is enhanced by numerous photographs and feature boxes-on the Bastille or Josephine Baker, for instance-that complete a colorful and comprehensive portrait of a place that has…


Book cover of Les Parisiennes: Resistance, Collaboration, and the Women of Paris Under Nazi Occupation

Katrina Lawrence Author Of Paris Dreaming: What the City of Light Taught Me About Life, Love & Lipstick

From my list on the history of Paris (and Parisians).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed with Paris since the age of five. For most of my life I’ve travelled there regularly and read every book on the subject I could find. After working as a beauty editor, I decided to try to make my passion my day job. That inspired me to write Paris Dreaming: What the City of Light Taught Me About Life, Love & Lipstick, and launch a travel consultancy business, Paris for Dreamers. I work with like-minded lovers of Paris, who constantly yearn for the city’s beguiling beauty and fascinating history, and who are always planning their next trip—or visiting Paris virtually, through the pages of a book!

Katrina's book list on the history of Paris (and Parisians)

Katrina Lawrence Why did Katrina love this book?

How Parisians survived Nazi Occupation—to what extent they resisted or collaborated—has been debated for decades but Sebba looks through a new lens: What did Parisiennes, specifically, do during these years? She was just in time to interview some key women who, having survived concentration camps, went on to live defiantly long lives. Others wouldn’t speak, still traumatised by their experiences. But Sebba has plenty to work with, and the pace at which she pulls it all together propels this book’s sense of importance. One can’t help but feel relieved that these stories have now been told. Some of it is shameful, sure, but you ultimately remember the tales of until-now-unsung heroines, whose fierce love for their city, above even their own welfare, makes them well deserving of a place in Paris history.

By Anne Sebba,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Les Parisiennes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Anne Sebba has the nearly miraculous gift of combining the vivid intimacy of the lives of women during The Occupation with the history of the time. This is a remarkable book.” —Edmund de Waal, New York Times bestselling author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes

New York Times bestselling author Anne Sebba explores a devastating period in Paris's history and tells the stories of how women survived—or didn’t—during the Nazi occupation.

Paris in the 1940s was a place of fear, power, aggression, courage, deprivation, and secrets. During the occupation, the swastika flew from the Eiffel Tower and danger lurked…


Book cover of The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual - and the Modern Home Began

Katrina Lawrence Author Of Paris Dreaming: What the City of Light Taught Me About Life, Love & Lipstick

From my list on the history of Paris (and Parisians).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed with Paris since the age of five. For most of my life I’ve travelled there regularly and read every book on the subject I could find. After working as a beauty editor, I decided to try to make my passion my day job. That inspired me to write Paris Dreaming: What the City of Light Taught Me About Life, Love & Lipstick, and launch a travel consultancy business, Paris for Dreamers. I work with like-minded lovers of Paris, who constantly yearn for the city’s beguiling beauty and fascinating history, and who are always planning their next trip—or visiting Paris virtually, through the pages of a book!

Katrina's book list on the history of Paris (and Parisians)

Katrina Lawrence Why did Katrina love this book?

Paris has long been a city of creation—but also a city of people who have made these creations their own. Perhaps this is why Paris influences the world; it sells so much more than products; it sells a lifestyle. Francophile and Professor Joan DeJean has written numerous books on French culture, but this is a particular favourite of mine. Head-spinningly well-researched, The Age of Comfort looks at how Paris architects and designers, from the late-seventeenth to late-eighteenth centuries, created the concept of a private life, and all the necessary accompanying interior-design components, from sofas to toilets to baths to desks. It was a century that changed the way Parisians lived, and in turn, changed them as people, before going on to transform the rest of the world. Utterly fascinating. 

By Joan DeJean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A critically acclaimed historian of France and French culture identifies the moment in modern history when informality and comfort first became priorities, causing a sudden transformation in the worlds of architecture and interior decoration that would last for centuries.

Today it is difficult to imagine a living room without a sofa. When the first sofas on record were delivered in seventeenth-century France, the result was a radical reinvention of interior space. Symptomatic of a new age of casualness and comfort, the sofa ushered in an era known as the golden age of conversation; as the first piece of furniture designed…


Book cover of Dawn of the Belle Epoque

Katrina Lawrence Author Of Paris Dreaming: What the City of Light Taught Me About Life, Love & Lipstick

From my list on the history of Paris (and Parisians).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed with Paris since the age of five. For most of my life I’ve travelled there regularly and read every book on the subject I could find. After working as a beauty editor, I decided to try to make my passion my day job. That inspired me to write Paris Dreaming: What the City of Light Taught Me About Life, Love & Lipstick, and launch a travel consultancy business, Paris for Dreamers. I work with like-minded lovers of Paris, who constantly yearn for the city’s beguiling beauty and fascinating history, and who are always planning their next trip—or visiting Paris virtually, through the pages of a book!

Katrina's book list on the history of Paris (and Parisians)

Katrina Lawrence Why did Katrina love this book?

Think of this as the literary equivalent of a Gobelins tapestry, its various threads expertly woven together to tell a grand and colourful story. McAuliffe has expertly intertwined the narratives and anecdotes of some of the most fascinating of Parisians to create a wonderfully engaging overview of the Belle Époque, that fabled and hedonistic between-wars Parisian era. By telling the history of these times through the eyes of the key players who lived—and shaped—these times, McAuliffe has produced a book that almost reads like a novel. It’s a fabulous treatment she also employed for her subsequent books that explored later periods of Paris history: Twilight of the Belle Epoque, When Paris Sizzled, and Paris on the Brink.

By Mary McAuliffe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A humiliating military defeat by Bismarck's Germany, a brutal siege, and a bloody uprising-Paris in 1871 was a shambles, and the question loomed, "Could this extraordinary city even survive?" Mary McAuliffe takes the reader back to these perilous years following the abrupt collapse of the Second Empire and France's uncertain venture into the Third Republic. By 1900, Paris had recovered and the Belle Epoque was in full flower, but the decades between were difficult, marked by struggles between republicans and monarchists, the Republic and the Church, and an ongoing economic malaise, darkened by a rising tide of virulent anti-Semitism. Yet…


Book cover of Notes of a Native Son

Duncan Jepson Author Of All the Flowers in Shanghai

From my list on about protest.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been an activist working on issues relating to human rights and youth protection for over fifteen years and during that time I worked as a lawyer and was lucky enough to make films and write two novels. Eventually, I would concentrate solely on activism and my reading would become very specific and as the focus of my activism changed and I directed my energies to corporate accountability my reading changed course again. The list I offer is from talented writers on important subjects, all write extremely well about things that matter to a human rights activist.  

Duncan's book list on about protest

Duncan Jepson Why did Duncan love this book?

Baldwin writes both fiction and non-fiction beautifully and intimately and if you don’t know his non-fiction work then this is a very good place to start. Across a number of essays, he elegantly sets out the deep struggle faced by Black Americans and articulates how a different humanity, in America and beyond, and a different future can be realized. 

By James Baldwin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Notes of a Native Son as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#26 on The Guardian's list of 100 best nonfiction books of all time, the essays explore what it means to be Black in America

In an age of Black Lives Matter, James Baldwin's essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and African Americans abroad are as powerful today as when they were first written. With films like I Am Not Your Negro and the forthcoming If Beale Street Could Talk bringing renewed interest to Baldwin's life and work, Notes of a Native Son serves as a valuable introduction.

Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was…


Book cover of How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired

Kendra Allen Author Of The Collection Plate: Poems

From my list on finding inspiration and motivation.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a person who reads solely for pleasure regardless of research, I make it a mission while writing to read books I actually enjoy on topics I wanna learn more about. I chose the books on this list because I’m also a person who reads multiple books at once in various genres, it keeps me honest; aware of holes and discrepancies in my own work and pushes me towards some semblance of completion. All the writers on this list do multiple things at once and I admire their skill and risk in coupling creativity with clarity.

Kendra's book list on finding inspiration and motivation

Kendra Allen Why did Kendra love this book?

Of course this title will catch anyone’s attention, but I’m including it here because of how mundane the plot is. It’s just people people’ing and therefore experiencing and learning. They just happen to be all the things they are. It’s a fun and funny ride living in a small Parisian apartment with these characters, eating their food, and laying with their friends. 

By Dany Laferrière, David Homel (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brilliant and tense, Dany Laferrière's first novel, How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired, is as fresh and relevant today as when it was first published in Canada in 1985. With ribald humor and a working-class intellectualism on par with Charles Bukowski's or Henry Miller's, Laferrière's narrator wanders the streets and slums of Montreal, has sex with white women, and writes a book to save his life. With this novel, Laferrière began a series of internationally acclaimed social and political novels about the love of the world, and the world of sex, including Heading South and I…


Book cover of Fashion Climbing: A Memoir

Uwe Westphal Author Of Ehrenfried and Cohn: Goodbye, Berlin - The Last Fashion Show

From my list on fashion and the fashion industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I published the novel Ehrenfried & Cohn in 2016 about the decimation of the Jewish fashion industry in Berlin by the Nazis. I studied at the University of Arts in Berlin and became a fashion reporter for newspapers. Later I worked as a producer and journalist for German Public Broadcasting, the BBC in London, and PBS and CBS in New York City. I currently share my time between London and Berlin writing fact books on Jewish fashion and as a lecturer on fashion history in the US.

Uwe's book list on fashion and the fashion industry

Uwe Westphal Why did Uwe love this book?

When Bill (William John) Cunningham (1929-2016), son of an Irish Catholic family from Boston, moved to New York at the tender age of 19 in 1948, it became the life-defining step in his career as probably the most famous fashion photographer in the metropolis. He had been interested in fashion from an early age and sold his first hats. After returning from military service in Korea in 1953, he began photographing fashion and writing articles for Women's Wear Daily and the Chicago Tribune.

It is no exaggeration to say that Cunningham's fashion sense and photography quickly shaped a new style of fashion journalism. His "street style" brought fashion, no matter how expensive or luxurious, into the world of everyday life. Cunningham made fashion interesting again only through his point of view and photographs. The quiet, always curious and meticulous Cunningham also became known for his commitment to the gay…

By Bill Cunningham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller

"[An] obscenely enjoyable romp." -The New York Times Book Review

The untold story of a New York City legend's education in creativity and style

For Bill Cunningham, New York City was the land of freedom, glamour, and, above all, style. Growing up in a lace-curtain Irish suburb of Boston, secretly trying on his sister's dresses and spending his evenings after school in the city's chicest boutiques, Bill dreamed of a life dedicated to fashion. But his desires were a source of shame for his family, and after dropping out of Harvard, he had to fight…


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 The Paris Connection

Alana Oxford Author Of Scotsman in the Stacks

From my list on romances with G to PG rated love scenes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like to tell people that I found my passion in life and it's books. I write them, read them, review them and I’ve been a librarian for 17 years. (I’ve worked in libraries for longer than that. Over 25 years!) It’s been dark times recently and romance has become my happy place. I’m a sucker for romances with pretty covers, quirky characters, and not so much of the on-page spice. If there’s some travel involved, even better!

Alana's book list on romances with G to PG rated love scenes

Alana Oxford Why did Alana love this book?

I fell in love with this book so hard that I read it all in one sitting. (Yes, that means I spent one, entire, luxurious day reading it! That day was an absolute gift.) I loved the writing style, the chance to armchair travel to Paris on the back of Leo’s moped alongside Hannah. It had just enough intrigue but was quiet and charming overall. Reading this book was like taking my mind to a spa to be pampered and rejuvenated. 

By Lorraine Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Launch Pad Writing Competition 2022
 
In this witty and heartfelt debut love story for fans of Josie Silver's One Day in December, a woman stranded in Paris for the day discovers that the wrong road can sometimes lead us in the right direction.

When Hannah and her boyfriend, Simon, set out to Amsterdam, they’re confident that they’ll make it to his sister’s wedding in time. However, unbeknownst to them, their train is scheduled to divide in the middle of the night. And when it does, half of it continues the route to Amsterdam. And the other half—the…


Book cover of The Gospel of Blood: The crimes and trial of the Vampire of Paris in his own words

Sondra London Author Of The Making of a Serial Killer

From my list on recent true crime books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a  true-crime author. Most recently, I have released a pair of related books: The Making of a Serial Killer: 2d Ed, by Danny Rolling as told to myself; and Danny Rolling Serial Killer: Interviews. Before that, I published Good Little Soldiers: A Memoir of True Horror. Coauthored with Dianne Fitzpatrick, it relates her tale of murder & mind control under the US Army MK Ultra program. Earlier, I wrote True Vampires, an encyclopedic compendium of bloody crimes, and Knockin' on Joe: Voices from Death Row. I also collaborated with serial killer GJ Schaefer on Killer Fiction, a volume of psychopathic musings he wrote for me.

Sondra's book list on recent true crime books

Sondra London Why did Sondra love this book?

At long last the Vampire of Paris crawls from his crypt, a living legend emblazoned with magical sigils and muttering dire imprecations for 666 searing pages. A world-renowned artist and bold aesthete of the macabre, Nico Claux holds a Japanese cannibal as his role model and calls Satan his homeboy. This reclusive genius goes beyond the pale only to reveal himself as a regular bloke, albeit one with a taste for torture and blasphemy. Meant to be read in the darkest night!

By Nico Claux,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Gospel of Blood is the autobiography of Nico Claux, a French morgue attendant whose morbid obsessions led him to grave robbery, cannibalism and murder in the early 1990s. It is a bone-chilling chronicle of a real-life vampire who prowled the Gothic cemeteries of Paris, unearthing coffins and mutilating the bodies inside. A practicing Satanist, Claux escalated to murder after working for a year in several morgues, receiving orders to kill from the corpses he had autopsied.The Gospel of Blood provides a rare insight into a killer’s tortured mind, as he relates the graphic details of his crimes, including never-before…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Paris, James Baldwin, and Miles Davis?

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