100 books like Paris in the Fifties

By Stanley Karnow,

Here are 100 books that Paris in the Fifties fans have personally recommended if you like Paris in the Fifties. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris

Emma Baxter-Wright Author Of Chanel Paperscapes: The Book That Transforms Into a Work of Art

From my list on the provocative talents of the fashion industry.

Who am I?

As a failed fashion designer, the history of twentieth-century fashion, represented both visually and in the form of narrative text, make up the bulk of my ever-increasing library of fashion books. In order to write about fashion, either as a biographer of one of the great designers or cutting-edge photographers, it is crucial to acknowledge what was deemed as desirable in a previous generation and a previous context. As Yves Saint Laurent famously said, "Fashion fades, Style is eternal." Fashion in its broader sense has never existed in a vacuum and an understanding of fashion history and fashion imagery, that so clearly evokes a specific era, is the very best way to appreciate the cyclical nature of this creative business.  

Emma's book list on the provocative talents of the fashion industry

Emma Baxter-Wright Why did Emma love this book?

Meticulously researched by brilliant fashion journalist Alicia Drake, this book charts the bitchy, high octane rivalry of two mega egos of the industry, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. As a journalist working today in an era of horrendous consumerism known as ‘fast fashion’ this detailed account of how both men were instrumental in shifting the established codes of a refined haute couture system into a faster-paced ready-to-wear market in the 1970s is illuminating. It also documents the evolution of couturier as a celebrity, detailing how YSL used an image of himself to promote his aftershave in 1971, a revolutionary idea of self-promotion at the time, and now a very necessary part of the ‘selfie’ obsessed generation of creatives working in fashion.  

By Alicia Drake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1950s Paris, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld were friends, the rising stars of the fashion world. But by the late sixties, the city was invaded by a new mood of liberation and hedonism, and dominated by intrigue, infidelities, addiction and parties. Each designer created his own mesmerizing world, so vivid and seductive that people were drawn to the power, charisma and fame, and it was to make them bitter rivals. "The Beautiful Fall" is a dazzling expose of an era and the story of the two men who were its essence and who remain its most singular survivors.


Book cover of D.V.

Dana Thomas Author Of Fashionopolis: Why What We Wear Matters

From my list on fashion in Paris.

Who am I?

Dana Thomas is the author of Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano and the New York Times bestseller Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster. Thomas began her career writing for the Style section of The Washington Post, and for fifteen years she served as a cultural and fashion correspondent for Newsweek in Paris. She is currently a contributing editor for British Vogue, and a regular contributor to The New York Times Style section and Architectural Digest. She wrote the screenplay for Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams, a feature documentary directed by Luca Guadagnino. In 2016, the French Minister of Culture named Thomas a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. She lives in Paris.

Dana's book list on fashion in Paris

Dana Thomas Why did Dana love this book?

Vreeland begins by telling readers: “The first thing to do is to arrange to be born in Paris. After that, everything follows quite naturally.” And that declaration sets the tone for this delightful, witty monologue, as told to Paris Review editor George Plimpton and originally published in 1984. D.V. makes you laugh out loud, and long for Paris, beauty, and really, really good lingerie.

By Diana Vreeland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“An evening with D.V. is almost as marvelous as an evening with D.V. herself—same magic, same spontaneity and, above all, never a boring moment. —Bill Blass

Brilliant, funny, charming, imperious, Diana Vreeland—the fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar and editor-in-chief of Vogue—was a woman whose passion and genius for style helped define the world of high fashion for fifty years. Among her eclectic circle of friends were some of the most renowned and famous figures of the twentieth century—artists and princes, movie stars and international legends, including Chanel, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Isak Dinesen, Clark Gable, and Swifty Lazar.…


Book cover of In My Fashion

Dana Thomas Author Of Fashionopolis: Why What We Wear Matters

From my list on fashion in Paris.

Who am I?

Dana Thomas is the author of Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano and the New York Times bestseller Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster. Thomas began her career writing for the Style section of The Washington Post, and for fifteen years she served as a cultural and fashion correspondent for Newsweek in Paris. She is currently a contributing editor for British Vogue, and a regular contributor to The New York Times Style section and Architectural Digest. She wrote the screenplay for Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams, a feature documentary directed by Luca Guadagnino. In 2016, the French Minister of Culture named Thomas a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. She lives in Paris.

Dana's book list on fashion in Paris

Dana Thomas Why did Dana love this book?

Ballard was the Paris editor for American Vogue between the wars, before returning to New York to help run the glossy. In 1960, she published her memoir, In My Fashion, a wonderful snapshot not only of the fashion industry during the European Modernist era, but also of life as a young single American woman in Paris at its most Paris-y. You don’t have to be a fashion lover to love this book.

By Bettina Ballard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bettina Ballard, Paris-based correspondent and later Fashion Editor for US Vogue, was at the centre of the fashion world from the 1930s to the ’50s and an intimate of Coco Chanel, Cristóbal Balenciaga and Elsa Schiaparelli. With journalistic flair, she captures the spirit of pre-war Paris, the working methods of the fashion greats and the transformation of the post-war fashion industry with the arrival of Dior.


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.

Who am I?

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 Paris to the Moon

Michelle Facos Author Of An American in Pandemic Paris: A Coming-of-Retirement-Age Memoir

From my list on Paris for foodies and historians.

Who am I?

I began writing about Paris at age 7. It figured as the central location for my uncompleted novel (4 chapters), Mystry (sic) at Oak Hall Manor, undoubtedly inspired by public television’s French language program that aired daily at noon when I was a child and by tales told by my French Alsatian grandmother and her siblings. Paris was my primary destination on my first trip to Europe, and I’ve spent many extended stays for art history research (who can write about 19th-century French art without privileging Paris?), lecturing, and writing, as well as for hanging with friends, swing dancing, and just being in, for me, the world’s most wonderful city.

Michelle's book list on Paris for foodies and historians

Michelle Facos Why did Michelle love this book?

In grad school, Adam and I had the same advisor, McArthur ‘Genius’ Kirk Varnedoe, and as a lifelong New Yorker reader, I’ve avidly followed his career. Paris to the Moon is an engaging memoir of his family and professional life as an ex-pat New Yorker writer in Paris during the 1990s. I love his insider-outsider perspective and the fact that he lived in my favorite neighborhood, rive Gauche at the boundary between the 6th and 7th arrondissements. With a sociologist-anthropologist’s eye, Adam interrogates the quintessentially Parisian (why Café Flore has surpassed Deux Magots in fashionability, for instance), attends lectures by celebrity sociologist Jean Beaudrillard, muses about the public reception of labor strikes, negotiates toddler culture in Paris, and take us food exploring with the iconic Alice Waters.

By Adam Gopnick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The finest book on France in recent years.”—Alain de Botton, The New York Times Book Review
 
In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of Paris. In the grand tradition of Stein, Hemingway, Baldwin, and Liebling, Gopnik set out to enjoy the storied existence of an American in Paris—walks down the paths of the Tuileries, philosophical discussions in cafés, and afternoon jaunts to the Musée d’Orsay. 
 
But as readers of Gopnik’s beloved and award-winning “Paris Journal” in The New…


Book cover of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier

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.

Who am I?

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?

Everyone knows that there are no “French people.” Each region has its particular culture, and Paris is a country unto itself. Focusing on one particular artisan, his clients, and his neighborhood, Carhart helps us to understand what it means to inhabit a single quartier of Paris. It’s one of the most beautiful memoirs I’ve ever read – and I don’t even play the piano!

By Thad Carhart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Piano Shop on the Left Bank as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Walking his two young children to school every morning, Thad Carhart passes an unassuming little storefront in his Paris neighborhood. Intrigued by its simple sign—Desforges Pianos—he enters, only to have his way barred by the shop’s imperious owner. Unable to stifle his curiosity, he finally lands the proper introduction, and a world previously hidden is brought into view. Luc, the atelier’s master, proves an indispensable guide to the history and art of the piano. Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history, and stories of the people who care for them,…


Book cover of A Moveable Feast

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Author Of The Transformational Path: How Healing, Unlearning, and Tuning into Source Helped Me Manifest My Most Abundant Life

From my list on completely transforming your life.

Who am I?

I’ve known I was “special” since I was a child. I saw, felt, and heard things that others did not. Eventually I embraced my clairaudient mediumship gifts and turned it into a thriving business, allowing me to live a life of purpose: helping others find their passions and live their most joyful lives. But the journey never ends; I am always on a mission to transform. Consistently, literature has been where I turn when I am seeking wisdom on becoming the best version of myself. I also pursued certification as a Book Therapist - the first thing I’ll recommend to friends, family, or clients is the best book for their dilemma!

Claudia's book list on completely transforming your life

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Why did Claudia love this book?

A Moveable Feast is life-changing, with its introspective and evocative exploration of Hemingway’s early years as a struggling writer in the 1920s. It heavily inspired me to make my own move and pursue my authorship journey in Paris!

Through vivid and poetic prose, Hemingway captures the bohemian atmosphere of the era. The book delves into themes of creativity, love, loss, and pursuing one's artistic vision. Hemingway's raw and honest reflections on his own experiences and struggles offer profound insights into the nature of art, resilience, and the pursuit of a meaningful life. 

This book inspired me to uncover my passions, live the life of my dreams, embrace the beauty of the world around me, and, most importantly, savor every moment.

By Ernest Hemingway,

Why should I read it?

12 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…


Book cover of Napoleon: The End of Glory

Michael Broers Author Of Napoleon: The Decline and Fall of an Empire: 1811-1821

From my list on Napoleon and an era that shook Europe.

Who am I?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in Napoleon, although in what ways have shifted back and forth over time. His reforms shaped the Europe we live in today, as few other rulers have managed. To go to law, to buy and sell, to marry, be born, or divorce, all these actions belong to his Civil Code. That is why I took up the study of his regime and its work as a professional historian. His myth, his exploits, gripped me as a boy, and still do. So spectacular a rise and fall do not happen by chance. There was no one like him.

Michael's book list on Napoleon and an era that shook Europe

Michael Broers Why did Michael love this book?

The accomplished historian of France across the years of Revolution, Empire and Restoration, Munro Price brings all his arsenal of erudition, archival acumen, and intellectual insight to bear on the last crisis of the empire. His attention to detail, his sensitivity to character and motivation make for one of the most penetrating, illuminating accounts of the implosion of support for Napoleon among the French elites ever written. No non-French scholar had picked through the complex politics of late Napoleonic France with as much skill or precision. Price delivers all this in elegant prose, the sign of a subtle historian.

By Munro Price,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On April 20, 1814, after a dizzying series of battles, campaigns, and diplomatic intrigues, a defeated Napoleon Bonaparte made his farewell speech to the Old Guard in the courtyard of the Chateau de Fontainebleau and set off for exile on the island of Elba. Napoleonic legend asserts that the Emperor was brought down by foreign powers determined to destroy him and discredit his achievements, with the aid of highly placed domestic traitors. Others argue that once Napoleon's military defeats began in 1812, his fall became inevitable. But in fact, as Munro Price shows in this brilliant new book, Napoleon's fall…


Book cover of Common Sense: A Political History

Katlyn Marie Carter Author Of Democracy in Darkness: Secrecy and Transparency in the Age of Revolutions

From my list on revolutionary ideas.

Who am I?

I am a historian of the eighteenth-century Atlantic World, specializing in the American and French Revolutions. The relationship between ideas and politics has fascinated me since I worked in media relations in Washington, DC. Because I think history can help us better understand our current political controversies and challenges, I write about the origins of representative democracy in the eighteenth century. I’m also an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame where I teach classes on colonial and revolutionary America, the Constitution, and history of the media.

Katlyn's book list on revolutionary ideas

Katlyn Marie Carter Why did Katlyn love this book?

Going beyond any one political revolution, this book traces an underlying epistemological convulsion that facilitated the formation of modern democracy in the late eighteenth century.

Common sense is supposed to defy historical analysis; we assume everyone has it, always has had it, and always will. But I love this book because it completely undoes these assumptions; Rosenfeld shows how the concept of common sense was a historical creation of the long eighteenth century.

Perhaps epitomized by Thomas Paine’s famous 1776 pamphlet, common sense was more than an idea; it became a style of politics and justification for free speech and popular sovereignty. Common sense became not only a precondition for democratic politics but a precursor of populism.

By Sophia Rosenfeld,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Common sense has always been a cornerstone of American politics. In 1776, Tom Paine's vital pamphlet with that title sparked the American Revolution. And today, common sense-the wisdom of ordinary people, knowledge so self-evident that it is beyond debate-remains a powerful political ideal, utilized alike by George W. Bush's aw-shucks articulations and Barack Obama's down-to-earth reasonableness. But far from self-evident is where our faith in common sense comes from and how its populist logic has shaped modern democracy. Common Sense: A Political History is the first book to explore this essential political phenomenon.

The story begins in the aftermath of…


Book cover of How Far From Austerlitz?: Napoleon 1805-1815

Gareth Williams Author Of Needing Napoleon

From my list on getting inside Napoleon Bonaparte’s head.

Who am I?

I taught about Napoleon for thirty years, having studied history at Cambridge. I’ve been fascinated by the Corsican outsider, who, thanks to the French Revolution, rose to dominate Europe, since I saw a china bust of him in his green Chasseurs uniform on my maternal grandparents’ sideboard. I always loved historical fiction and having retired into a locked-down world, I put my time on the Isle of Skye to good use and set about researching and writing the novel I had always said I would write. Re-reading old favourites and encountering new interpretations was a joy and certainly made compiling this list an enjoyable challenge!

Gareth's book list on getting inside Napoleon Bonaparte’s head

Gareth Williams Why did Gareth love this book?

As a St Helena Lullaby puts it, quoted by Horne at the start of his scholarly but eminently readable book, "How far is St Helena from the field of Austerlitz?" Horne is a brilliant historian and he crafts a compelling book tracing Napoleon’s career from its apogee on the field of his greatest victory to its nadir with his exile to St Helena, far out in the south Atlantic. But we don’t just get the events, we get to experience the slippery nature of success, as Spain swallows troops and Russia decimates the Grande Armée. We see this through Napoleon’s own words, and Horne’s relentless research, as he struggles to maintain his dominance. I loved the balanced assessment of this final decade in power. I marvelled at Bonaparte’s brilliance and achievements whilst learning to appreciate how much the odds were stacked against him.

By Alistair Horne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Far From Austerlitz? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A London Sunday Times Book of the Year
A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year


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