10 books like Paris 1919-1939

By Vincent Bouvet, Gérard Durozoi,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Paris 1919-1939. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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A Moveable Feast

By Ernest Hemingway,

Book cover of A Moveable Feast

Although not inspired by Ernest Hemingway, I have always frequented the same neighborhoods: the Latin Quarter around place Contrescarpe, where EH lived with his first wife, Hadley, on rue Cardinal Lemoine, and on the other side of the Luxembourg Garden along boulevard Montparnasse, where he lived beside a lumber mill just behind the still-wonderful restaurant La Cloiserie des Lilas, situated across from the Port-Royal RER station. Paris in 1920s, when Hemingway lived there, was an exhilarating place inhabited by other influential expats: James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein. This memoir, written late in life, recounts the author’s adventures in Kerouac-like fashion during the years he was composing The Sun Also Rises.

A Moveable Feast

By Ernest Hemingway,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked A Moveable Feast as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most beloved works. Since Hemingway's personal papers were released in 1979, scholars have examined and debated the changes made to the text before publication. Now this new special restored edition presents the original manuscript as the author prepared it to be published.

Featuring a personal foreword by Patrick Hemingway, Ernest's sole surviving son, and an introduction by the editor and grandson of the author, Sean Hemingway, this new edition also includes a number of unfinished, never-before-published Paris sketches revealing experiences that Hemingway had with his son Jack and…


The Jazz Age in France

By Charles A. Riley II,

Book cover of The Jazz Age in France

This is a terrific coffee table-sized book with wonderful photographs of the sundry characters and vivid reproductions of paintings and other images. Here you’ll find a young, muscular Pablo Picasso with hair—on the beach in his bathing suit in front of Gerald & Sara Murphy’s villa on the Côte d’Azur. This privileged couple—he a fine avant-garde artist in his own right, and she, who became Picasso’s muse, a refined and elegant hostess—were patrons of the arts who surrounded themselves at their home with the young luminaries of the Jazz Age. Chapter headings in this stunning volume tell the tale.

At 174 large pages, this is a beautifully rendered and specific encapsulation of les années folles, from start to finish.

The Jazz Age in France

By Charles A. Riley II,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A panorama of the arts scene in Jazz Age France draws on letters, diaries, journals, photo albums, and private archives, in a visual exploration that includes unpublished paintings by Picasso and Leger, previously unknown works by e. e. cummings and John Dos Passos, and more. 15,000 first printing.


Kiki's Memoirs

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

Book cover of Kiki's Memoirs

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…

Kiki's Memoirs

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.


Kiki's Paris

By Billy Klüver, Julie Martin,

Book cover of Kiki's Paris: Artists and Lovers 1900-1930

Due to the title, and the fact that the authors of this book edited my 3rd book, this may seem to be a redundant choice on my part. But I can assure the reader that it is not. Although a fine photo of Kiki also graces the cover, she plays a minor, more metaphoric role in the grand scheme of this large-format work, and only a handful of pages are devoted to her.

On the inside of the cover, and the first thick page to its right, one is presented with 96 roughly 1”x 2” black & white thumbnail photographs, not alphabetically arranged, but as it happens, beginning with a photo image of a portrait of Louis XIV in the top left corner and finishing in the bottom right corner of the following page with a photo of James Joyce. All those photos in between should tip off the reader…

Kiki's Paris

By Billy Klüver, Julie Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Recreates life in the tumultuous world of 1900-1930 Montparnasse. This book presents photographs of legendary figures, among them the model Kiki, Modigliani, Picasso, Satie, Matisse, Leger, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Miro. Gossip and anecdotes aim to bring this world alive.


The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

By Gertrude Stein,

Book cover of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

Toklas was Stein’s life partner—their relationship lasted nearly four decades and ended with Stein’s death in 1946. As the book shows, Toklas led a remarkable life, fleeing the devastation of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to move to Paris, where she met Stein and became a centrepiece of the avant-garde art scene that included Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso, and Matisse, to name just a few. Although she was viewed as a sort of background figure (it seems she was quite shy), she worked as Stein’s caretaker, editor, critic, confidante, lover, and cook. She finally got the recognition she deserved when Stein published this book, which became her best-known work.

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

By Gertrude Stein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stein's most famous work; one of the richest and most irreverent biographies ever written.


The Parisian

By Isabella Hammad,

Book cover of The Parisian

This is a recent first novel, set mostly in France, about a young Palestinian man who goes there to study medicine and falls in love with the daughter of his host. I’m still reading it, and admiring the sureness of touch, the knowledge of history, and above all the sense of the period – it’s set before World War 1 and continues through the 20th century. Brava, Isabella Hammad!

The Parisian

By Isabella Hammad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A sublime reading experience: delicate, restrained, surpassingly intelligent, uncommonly poised and truly beautiful' Zadie Smith

**WINNER OF THE BETTY TRASK AWARD 2020**

Midhat Kamal - dreamer, romantic, aesthete - leaves Palestine in 1914 to study medicine in France, under the tutelage of Dr Molineu. He falls deeply in love with Jeannette, the doctor's daughter. But Midhat soon discovers that everything is fragile: love turns to loss, friends become enemies and everyone is looking for a place to belong.

Through Midhat's eyes we see the tangled politics and personal tragedies of a turbulent era - the Palestinian struggle for independence, the…


Journey to the End of the Night

By Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Ralph Manheim (translator),

Book cover of Journey to the End of the Night

Whether you love him or hate him (as he was a tortured and unpleasant soul), Céline innovated the philosophical novel in the modern context and brought the genre to its pinnacle with Journey to the End of the Night. Reflecting on the horrors, absurdity, and stupidity of World War I, returning soldier Ferdinand Bardamu (a stand-in for Céline) finds himself equally miserable in “peacetime” serving as a doctor for the poor in Paris (Céline was trained as a doctor). Céline is occasionally compared to another French writer of philosophical novels: Jean-Paul Sartre. Journey is not heavily allegorical like some of Sartre’s fiction works are (such as No Exit); Céline simply “shouts” at you, and sometimes you’re benefited in hearing the shouting. In Journey’s portrayal of inter-war urban decay, one gets the sense that Céline agrees…

Journey to the End of the Night

By Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Ralph Manheim (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Journey to the End of the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celine's masterpiece-colloquial, polemic, hyper realistic-boils over with bitter humor and revulsion at society's idiocy and hypocrisy: Journey to the End of the Night is a literary symphony of cruelty and violence that hurtles through the improbable travels of the petit bourgeois (and largely autobiographical) antihero, Bardamu: from the trenches of WWI, to the African jungle, to New York, to the Ford Factory in Detroit, and finally to life in Paris as a failed doctor. Ralph Manheim's pitch-perfect translation captures Celine's savage energy, and a dynamic afterword by William T. Vollmann presents a fresh, furiously alive take on this astonishing novel.


Journal à quatre mains

By Benoîte Groult, Flora Groult,

Book cover of Journal à quatre mains

A funny and moving account of life in occupied Paris by two young sisters, one sensible and studious, the other fun-loving. Written in diary form by each sister in turn, hence the ‘four hands’. Some signs of touching up with hindsight before publication in 1962. There is an English translation, ‘Diary in duo’ (1965) but currently out of print.

Journal à quatre mains

By Benoîte Groult, Flora Groult,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nouvelle édition en 2002


You Remind Me of Me

By Dan Chaon,

Book cover of You Remind Me of Me

One of the many things I like about this novel is the way the writing itself mimics the confusion of the protagonist, Jonah—the way Chaon allows us to completely inhabit his mind, down to the most telling details, his doubts, and precise but uncertain perceptions. We too search for the person whom Jonah intuits but doesn’t know, we grasp for the shape whose presence shadows his life. I was dazzled by the patchy way that Chaon builds the narrative, the intriguing overlaps, and surprising connections as he moves between past and present, allowing the secret at the heart of the story to float closer to the surface. I felt deep compassion for the pain and bewilderment of the characters, for the way they struggled forward, for the complexity of their feelings for each other. 

You Remind Me of Me

By Dan Chaon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jonah Doyle is six years old. He lives with his mother, his grandfather and their dog Elizabeth in a yellow house in South Dakota. It is a house full of tensions, for Jonah's grandfather is old and tired, and his mother often doesn't want to talk at all. And then one sunny day in early spring, when the snow has mostly melted, a terrible accident occurs that will change the course of Jonah's life. That same spring, hundreds of miles away, Troy Timmens is growing up in a very different world. He spends his afternoons at his cousins' house, watching…


The Hunchback of Notre Dame

By Victor Hugo, Lucy Corvino (illustrator),

Book cover of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

You may know this book as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but you probably don’t really know it. Films, most notably the Disney cartoon, have grossly distorted this novel, often having Esmeralda ride off into the sunset with Phoebus. But the novel is really a very dark, Gothic story of love and lust, and one of the first existential novels. Frollo and Quasimodo both love Esmeralda, but she loves Phoebus, and he only loves himself. In the end, everyone dies, allowing their lust to destroy their common sense. Hugo wrote it to help popularize and save Notre-Dame Cathedral from falling into further disrepair. It influenced British author William Harrison Ainsworth to write The Tower of London, thus revitalizing British Gothic in a new way just as it did French Gothic.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

By Victor Hugo, Lucy Corvino (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Hunchback of Notre Dame as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Victor Hugo's great story of Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame and his unrequited love for the dancer, Esmeralda. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes theme discussions and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom and at home to further engage the reader in the story.


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