100 books like The Belly of Paris

By Emile Zola, Brian Nelson,

Here are 100 books that The Belly of Paris fans have personally recommended if you like The Belly of Paris. 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 Arthur Young's Travels in France: During the Years 1787, 1788, 1789

Stephen Clarke Author Of The Spy Who Inspired Me

From my list on why the French deny their own history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived almost all my adult life in France, and have spent that whole time wondering what makes the French so French. One of the answers is their attitude to their own history. The French have got a lot of upheaval to process: at least five revolutions since 1789, and two World Wars fought on their soil, including a Nazi occupation that they still haven’t digested. I didn’t start writing about the French until I’d been living in France for about 10 years – I didn’t want to write like a tourist, and it took me that long to unweave the first strands of their DNA. I’ve never stopped writing about them since, half a dozen Merde novels and as many non-fiction books later.

Stephen's book list on why the French deny their own history

Stephen Clarke Why did Stephen love this book?

Young was an English agriculturalist who took time out from farming to analyse life and developments in the countryside. He toured Britain, then Ireland, and finally France. Here, he lucked in. He wandered the fields, lanes, and city streets of France as the Revolution was brewing and then erupting. Although not an aristo himself, he frequented nobility and royalty, and was amazed at the blissful indifference of the idle rich about what was going on around them. He saw the extreme poverty of the peasants, who were being worked and starved to death by their absentee landlords. He witnessed the actual events of the Revolution and had to talk himself out of getting lynched as a potential aristo spy. It’s a book to browse rather than consume whole, and contains whole pages about crop yields and diseases, but at times it is the most measured first-hand view of the Revolution…

By Arthur Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Arthur Young's Travels in France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arthur Young (1741-1820) was an English writer on agriculture, economics and social statistics. At the age of seventeen, he published a pamphlet On the War in North America, and in 1761 went to London and started a periodical, entitled The Universal Museum. He also wrote four novels, and Reflections on the Present State of Affairs at Home and Abroad in 1759. Young produced around 25 books and pamphlets on agriculture and 15 books on political economy, as well as many articles. He was famous for the views he expressed, as an agricultural improver, political economist and social observer. Amongst his…


Book cover of 1066: The Hidden History of the Bayeux Tapestry

Stephen Clarke Author Of The Spy Who Inspired Me

From my list on why the French deny their own history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived almost all my adult life in France, and have spent that whole time wondering what makes the French so French. One of the answers is their attitude to their own history. The French have got a lot of upheaval to process: at least five revolutions since 1789, and two World Wars fought on their soil, including a Nazi occupation that they still haven’t digested. I didn’t start writing about the French until I’d been living in France for about 10 years – I didn’t want to write like a tourist, and it took me that long to unweave the first strands of their DNA. I’ve never stopped writing about them since, half a dozen Merde novels and as many non-fiction books later.

Stephen's book list on why the French deny their own history

Stephen Clarke Why did Stephen love this book?

For me, the Bayeux Tapestry is one of the most glorious works in the whole of Western art. Seventy metres of embroidery (not actual tapestry) describing the conquest of Britain by William and co. Every time I go to see it, it takes my breath away. But as I began to read around the subject for the opening chapter of my book 1000 Years of Annoying the French, I started to doubt the “official” version of the story told by the museum’s audio guide, which is basically a justification of the Norman duke’s claim to the throne of England. Andrew Bridgeford’s book examines both the story being told in the main narrative of the tapestry, as well as the hidden undercurrent of anti-William propaganda there. It turns out that, contrary to French legend, this was not just a visual record of the Conquest commissioned by William and executed by his…

By Andrew Bridgeford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 1066 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant new reading of the Bayeux Tapestry that radically alters our understanding of the events of 1066 and reveals the astonishing story of the survival of early medieval Europe's greatest treasure.

The Bayeux Tapestry was embroidered (it's not really a tapestry) in the late eleventh century. As an artefact, it is priceless, incomparable - nothing of it's delicacy and texture, let alone wit, survives from the period. As a pictorial story it is delightful: the first feature-length cartoon. As history it is essential: it represents the moment of Britain's last conquest by a foreign army and celebrates the Norman…


Book cover of Les Misérables

Richard Goodman Author Of French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France

From my list on 19th century French novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a Francophile for as long as I can remember. Something about France and French literature grabbed me by the heart when I was a young man and continues to do so. I’ve lived in France twice–a year each time–and have written about those experiences in books and essays. It’s 19th-century French literature that especially draws me and has deeply influenced my own writing.  

Richard's book list on 19th century French novels

Richard Goodman Why did Richard love this book?

We all know the title. It’s become a record-breaking musical phenomenon. The book is a phenomenon in itself. It was a voyage I took for a few spellbound weeks, and I read it in a stone house in a small village in the South of France. It is a book of great sympathy and grace. 

Victor Hugo’s heart is large—at least measured by this story of an escaped prisoner who tries to do good with his life but is pursued relentlessly by a police officer, Javert. I found with this book, as the great writers always show me, that character is all. Hugo drew me into the struggles and losses of his people so ably and memorably that I still think of them years later. 

By Victor Hugo, Lee Fahnestock (translator), Norman Macafee (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOW A SIX-PART MINISERIES ON MASTERPIECE ON PBS

The only completely unabridged paperback edition of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece—a sweeping tale of love, loss, valor, and passion.

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.

Within his dramatic story are…


Book cover of Second Harvest

Stephen Clarke Author Of The Spy Who Inspired Me

From my list on why the French deny their own history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived almost all my adult life in France, and have spent that whole time wondering what makes the French so French. One of the answers is their attitude to their own history. The French have got a lot of upheaval to process: at least five revolutions since 1789, and two World Wars fought on their soil, including a Nazi occupation that they still haven’t digested. I didn’t start writing about the French until I’d been living in France for about 10 years – I didn’t want to write like a tourist, and it took me that long to unweave the first strands of their DNA. I’ve never stopped writing about them since, half a dozen Merde novels and as many non-fiction books later.

Stephen's book list on why the French deny their own history

Stephen Clarke Why did Stephen love this book?

A bit of a cheat, this one. It’s probably my favourite French novel, precisely because it is timeless and seems to ignore everything about French history. I don’t think there’s one mention or symptom of the Revolution, no scar of the First World War, no French over-intellectualizing. It’s just nature and humankind going head-to-head in a brutally realistic, but starkly beautiful, Provençal landscape. By the way, I don’t like the English title – Regain means regrowth, the first signs of recovery. Personally, I’d prefer a title like Signs of Life. And this novel is all about a tiny hamlet in southern France that is on the verge of death. Only one man of working age remains amongst the ruined houses; the fields are fallow; there are no women. Then a tinker comes through, dragging his unwilling, abused femme with him. She catches the lone male peasant’s eye, cosmic chemistry occurs,…

By Geoffrey Myers, Jean Giono, Louis William Graux , Henri Fluchere

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Aubignane is a village in Provence; or, rather, it was, for it has long been dying. The only inhabitants remaining are the old blacksmith, the well-digger s widow and Panturle, the hunter. Now the blacksmith and the widow abandon the village, the latter promising she will find Panturle a wife. He is not made for solitude and gradually he becomes morose almost to the point of madness. Then a woman comes to the village as if by some supernatural path. She is all it takes for Panturle to start digging the land again and planting wheat, a second harvest. The…


Book cover of The Flounder

Crystal King Author Of Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome

From my list on novels about food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Crystal King is the author of The Chef’s Secret and Feast of Sorrow, which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and was a Must-Read for the MassBook Awards. She is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at GrubStreet, Harvard Extension School, and Boston University, among others. She resides in Boston.

Crystal's book list on novels about food

Crystal King Why did Crystal love this book?

An epic feast of a book, The Flounder winds the reader from the Stone Age to the present day, mixing fantasy and history with dashes of actual recipes here and there. This novel is a long meal, full of the strangest stories including talking fish and three-breasted women, but in every era and every chapter, there is a woman who is master of both man and kitchen.

By Günter Grass,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gunter Grass, says The Times, 'is on his own as an artist', and indeed this extraordinary, provoking and joyously Rabelaisian celebration of life, food and sex is unique.

Lifted from their ancient fairytale, the fisherman and his wife are still living today. During the months of Ilsebill's pregnancy, the fisherman tells her of his adventures through time with the Flounder, constituting a complete reworking of social, political and gastronomic history.


Book cover of Cooking with Fernet Branca

Crystal King Author Of Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome

From my list on novels about food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Crystal King is the author of The Chef’s Secret and Feast of Sorrow, which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and was a Must-Read for the MassBook Awards. She is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at GrubStreet, Harvard Extension School, and Boston University, among others. She resides in Boston.

Crystal's book list on novels about food

Crystal King Why did Crystal love this book?

A fantastic parody of the Italian food/holiday/romance novels that saturated the market in the 90s and 00s, this novel feels as wine-soaked as its cover. Hilarious, tipsy, and over-the-top. The characters are wild, the circumstances are campy and it makes for a very fun read. Cook the recipes--if you dare.

By James Hamilton-Paterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cooking with Fernet Branca as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A very funny sendup of Italian-cooking-holiday-romance novels” (Publishers Weekly).

Gerald Samper, an effete English snob, has his own private hilltop in Tuscany where he whiles away his time working as a ghostwriter for celebrities and inventing wholly original culinary concoctions―including ice cream made with garlic and the bitter, herb-based liqueur known as Fernet Branca. But Gerald’s idyll is about to be shattered by the arrival of Marta, on the run from a crime-riddled former Soviet republic, as a series of misunderstandings brings this odd couple into ever closer and more disastrous proximity . . .

“Provokes the sort of indecorous…


Book cover of Appetite

Crystal King Author Of Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome

From my list on novels about food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Crystal King is the author of The Chef’s Secret and Feast of Sorrow, which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and was a Must-Read for the MassBook Awards. She is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at GrubStreet, Harvard Extension School, and Boston University, among others. She resides in Boston.

Crystal's book list on novels about food

Crystal King Why did Crystal love this book?

Nino Latino is the nephew of Fra Filippo Lippi, one of the greatest Florentine painters. For Nino, every taste brings a heightened connection to the people and places around him. He rises to culinary acclaim but it’s the forbidden hand of a woman that threatens to undo him. Appetite is a book to relish and devour.

By Philip Kazan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Florence, 1466. A lust for life, a passion for power and a taste for adventure...

In Florence, everyone has a passion. With 60,000 souls inside the city, crammed into a cobweb of clattering streets, countless alleys, towers, workshops, tanneries, cloisters, churches and burial grounds, they live their lives in the narrow world between the walls. Nino Latini knows that if you want to survive without losing yourself completely, then you've got to have a passion.

But Nino's greatest gift will be his greatest curse. Nino can taste things that other people cannot. Every flavour, every ingredient comes alive for him…


Book cover of The Uncertain Hour: A Novel

Crystal King Author Of Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome

From my list on novels about food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Crystal King is the author of The Chef’s Secret and Feast of Sorrow, which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and was a Must-Read for the MassBook Awards. She is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at GrubStreet, Harvard Extension School, and Boston University, among others. She resides in Boston.

Crystal's book list on novels about food

Crystal King Why did Crystal love this book?

In A.D. 66, Petronius, the author of the food-filled first novel, The Satyricon, has been implicated in an assassination plot to rid the world of Emperor Nero. He now faces a terrible choice: to end his life with honor, or to face an executioner at dawn. The Uncertain Hour is the sumptuous, beautiful tale of Petronius’s last, marvelous feast before he takes his place among the stars in the heavens.

By Jesse Browner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

a.d. 66: Having been falsely implicated in a plot to assassinate the emperor Nero, Titus Petronius has a choice: await the executioner at dawn, or die a noble Roman death by his own hand. Deciding that his will be a suicide like no other the world has ever seen, he summons a small circle of intimate friends to his magnificent villa on the enchanting Tyrrhenian coast of southern Italy. There, over the course of a balmy autumn's night, Petronius throws the party of a lifetime. As they feast on course after course of the most sumptuous and exotic fare the…


Book cover of Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter

Fiona Sampson Author Of Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

From my list on literary biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fiona Sampson is a leading British poet and writer, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, awarded an MBE for services to literature. Published in thirty-seven languages, she’s the recipient of numerous national and international awards. Her twenty-eight books include the critically acclaimed In Search of Mary Shelley, and Two-Way Mirror: The life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and she’s Emeritus Professor of Poetry, University of Roehampton.

Fiona's book list on literary biographies

Fiona Sampson Why did Fiona love this book?

Simone de Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter is a classic. First published in France in 1958, it’s the opening volume of an autobiographical trilogy. This exploration of the childhood and young womanhood that created the world-famous writer and intellectual is compendious, descriptive – and alert at every turn, as befits the mother of existentialism, to how the emerging psyche understands the world around it.

By Beauvoir Simone De, James Kirkup (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“[Beauvoir’s] graciously written memoirs carry distinct appeal in recording the emotional and intellectual birth pangs of a fascinating woman.” —Time

A superb autobiography by one of the great literary figures of the twentieth century, Simone de Beauvoir's Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter offers an intimate picture of growing up in a bourgeois French family, rebelling as an adolescent against the conventional expectations of her class, and striking out on her own with an intellectual and existential ambition exceedingly rare in a young woman in the 1920s.

Beauvoir vividly evokes her friendships, love interests, mentors, and the early days of the…


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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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