10 books like The story of the Paris Metro

By Clive Lamming,

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

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Mr. Beck's Underground Map

By Ken Garland,

Book cover of Mr. Beck's Underground Map: A History

Without doubt the inspiration and key reference work for so many books, websites and studies investigating the design of subway maps. Being one of the only writers on cartography who actually met Harry Beck, Garland was the first to forensically examine the London Tube diagram designed by him. The intimacy of Garlands relationship with beck shines through and informs the whole text. The reader even gets to see some of Becks unpublished works. A simply ‘must have’ for anyone interested in railways, cartography and design in general.

Mr. Beck's Underground Map

By Ken Garland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. Beck's Underground Map as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1998, British hardcover reprint edition (of a work first published in 1994), Capital Transport Publishing, Middlesex, U.K. Handsome oversize oblong format, 80 pages. Incredible b&w illustrations / color maps throughout. In the early 1930's, Britain's Underground was in a bit of a mess. The managing director remembered a suggestion from a 29-year-old engineering draftsman. He had produced an underground diagram which might just solve the technical complexity of the system and even better, please the British public that suddenly could figure out where they wanted to go and how they might get there. Here is the story of how its…


Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

By Paul Shaw,

Book cover of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story

Here is an example of a work that leaves no stone unturned, and does the job properly. There is an excellent introduction on the historical signage of the Subway, a proper explanation of why a new wayfinding system was necessary, the most comprehensive history on why Unimark was chosen to improve the signage and all the images you need of how their 1970 'Graphics Standards Manual' was implemented. Shaw rightly explains the move from the Standard Medium typeface to Helvetica and why it superseded Standard Medium and the fate of the original Unimark system.

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

By Paul Shaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Helvetica and the New York City Subway System as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How New York City subways signage evolved from a “visual mess” to a uniform system with Helvetica triumphant.

For years, the signs in the New York City subway system were a bewildering hodge-podge of lettering styles, sizes, shapes, materials, colors, and messages. The original mosaics (dating from as early as 1904), displaying a variety of serif and sans serif letters and decorative elements, were supplemented by signs in terracotta and cut stone. Over the years, enamel signs identifying stations and warning riders not to spit, smoke, or cross the tracks were added to the mix. Efforts to untangle this visual…


The Subterranean Railway

By Christian Wolmar,

Book cover of The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How It Changed the City Forever

With a razor sharp eye Wolmar (author of many other excellent books on railway history) concentrates his focus on the machinations of the establishment of the world's first railway built under the ground. Overcoming the travails of unbuilt fantasy concepts, the Victorians fear of the dark, finances and the problems of running steam trains in tunnels, London's City Solicitor Charles Pearson, managed to get the first route, the Metropolitan Railway, built and opened by January 1863. Wolmar unpicks the struggles to expand the line, private capitals, a rush to build more lines and the eventual nationalisation of the system in 1948.

The Subterranean Railway

By Christian Wolmar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Revised and updated edition of Christian Wolmar's classic history of the London Underground, with a new chapter on Crossrail.

'I can think of few better ways to while away those elastic periods awaiting the arrival of the next eastbound Circle Line train than by reading [this book].' Tom Fort, Sunday Telegraph

Since the Victorian era, London's Underground has played a vital role in the daily life of generations of Londoners. In The Subterranean Railway, Christian Wolmar celebrates the vision and determination of the nineteenth-century pioneers who made the world's first, and still the largest, underground passenger railway: one of the…


Das Berliner U- und S-Bahnnetz

By Alfred B. Gottwaldt,

Book cover of Das Berliner U- und S-Bahnnetz: Eine Geschichte in Streckenplänen von 1888 bis heute

Don’t worry if you are not fluent in German: this book is packed with images and if you want to understand the way the Berlin U-Bahn system expanded - it is required reading. Gottwaldt was the first person to collect and publish historic maps of the system and reproduction of the maps is exceptional. Starting in 1888 - before the present U-Bahn was conceived - his selection of cartographic delights includes the city’s earliest urban rail lines. The 1896 plan of the ’Nord-Ring’ and ’Sud-Ring’ foretells how the pattern of Berlins current S-Bahn and his example of a 1922 track map exhibits just how extensive railway land was in Europes biggest cities. My favourites are the 1934 and 1936 diagrams which echo the work of Beck in London. If mass transit interests you: find this book!

Das Berliner U- und S-Bahnnetz

By Alfred B. Gottwaldt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Das Berliner U- und S-Bahnnetz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Zazie in the Metro

By Raymond Queneau, Barbara Wright (translator),

Book cover of Zazie in the Metro

I bought an English version of this French novel about Paris while actually in that city as a starving backpacker, and have forever associated the wacky joyfulness of the book with the pleasures of that trip. Originally written in a high-energy, idiomatic, slangy, bawdy version of French that scandalized many conservative readers, the plot involves a young country girl named Zazie, obsessed with the Parisian subway system called the Metro, though she’s never seen it. Finally allowed to visit her uncle in the city, she is outraged to find the Metro closed, its workers on strike. She runs away, roaming the crowded city streets, her hilarious extended tantrum not only upsetting her befuddled uncle’s safe and settled lifestyle, but also spreading a generalized craziness throughout Paris. 

Zazie in the Metro

By Raymond Queneau, Barbara Wright (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Impish, foul-mouthed Zazie arrives in Paris from the country to stay with Gabriel, her female-impersonator uncle. All she really wants to do is ride the metro, but finding it shut because of a strike, Zazie looks for other means of amusement and is soon caught up in a comic adventure that becomes wilder and more manic by the minute. In 1960 Queneau's cult classic was made into a hugely successful film by Louis Malle. Packed full of word play and phonetic games, Zazie in the Metro remains as stylish and witty as ever.


Time Was Soft There

By Jeremy Mercer,

Book cover of Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.

Jeremy had a career as a crime reporter that had recently turned from exciting to dangerous. He flew to Paris with little money and nowhere to go. Serendipity led him to Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore along the Seine with a perfect view of Notre Dame. 

The owner, George, allowed authors to reside for free at the store, resulting in a continuous rotation of vagabonds searching for purpose, inspiration, or just a bed among the bookshelves. 

I loved meeting this cast of eccentric writers from around the world, finding camaraderie at this literary haven. It reminded me how quickly travelers can bond over a shared experience, and how sometimes a place can be the most interesting and vivid character of them all.

Time Was Soft There

By Jeremy Mercer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Time Was Soft There as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Some bookstores are filled with stories both inside and outside the bindings. These are places of sanctuary, even redemption---and Jeremy Mercer has found both amid the stacks of Shakespeare & Co."
---Paul Collins, author of Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books

In a small square on the left bank of the Seine, the door to a green-fronted bookshop beckoned. . . .

With gangsters on his tail and his meager savings in hand, crime reporter Jeremy Mercer fled Canada in 1999 and ended up in Paris. Broke and almost homeless, he found himself invited to a tea party…


Maigret and the Bum

By Georges Simenon,

Book cover of Maigret and the Bum

Like so many, I’m addicted to this series. Often imitated, never surpassed, Simenon is perhaps the only mystery writer to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was considered by some contemporaries to be the greatest French novelist of his time. Don’t let that put you off. These are great mysteries with an indelible sense of time and place. If the Sherlock Holmes stories can transport me to Victorian London, I can as easily take an absorbing mid-20th century trip to the underside of Paris with Inspector Jules Maigret.

These police procedurals offer unforgettable characters and deep psychological insight. Maigret and the Bum is perhaps my favorite. The bum of the title is a vagrant who has been beaten nearly to death on the banks of the Seine. As Maigret investigates the crime, he finds that the victim was once a highly respected doctor, dedicated to helping the…

Maigret and the Bum

By Georges Simenon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by Simenon, Georges


The Wild Ass's Skin

By Honoré de Balzac, Helen Constantine (translator),

Book cover of The Wild Ass's Skin

A young man loses all his money in a Paris casino and goes off to drown himself in the Seine. Before he can do so, he wanders into an antiquarian’s shop of treasures and is offered the skin of the title, a magical pelt that will grant its possessor any wish, but shrink each time, diminishing the possessor’s life force in the process. It’s a moral tale of wish fulfillment and identity, but most of all, it’s a thrilling glittering dark tale of ambition and excess. 

The Wild Ass's Skin

By Honoré de Balzac, Helen Constantine (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wild Ass's Skin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Who possesses me will possess all things,
But his life will belong to me...'

Raphael de Valentin, a young aristocrat, has lost all his money in the gaming parlours of the Palais Royal in Paris, and contemplates ending his life by throwing himself into the Seine. He is distracted by the bizarre array of objects in a chaotic antique shop, among them a strange animal skin, a piece of shagreen with magical properties. It will grant its possessor his every wish, but each time a wish is bestowed the skin shrinks, hastening its owner's death. Around this fantastic premise
Balzac…


Les Parisiennes

By Anne Sebba,

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

Les Parisiennes lays out in graphic detail the significant inequities handed down throughout the war with regard to social, economic, and religious status for women of world war II Paris. Ms. Sebba uses a timeline of pre-, during, and post-world war II to paint a picture of what daily life was like depending on how much money you had or whom you knew. She uses real-life examples like Coco Chanel, Genevieve de Gaulle, and Edith Piaf to help the reader understand the consequences of various choices made during wartime.

Les Parisiennes

By Anne Sebba,

Why should I read it?

3 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…


L'Origine

By Lilianne Milgrom,

Book cover of L'Origine: The Secret Life of the World's Most Erotic Masterpiece

L’Origine by artist and writer Lilianne Milgrom is a unique, well-researched, and absolutely compelling book. Part history and part memoir, it tells the story of Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde, a painting known as “the world’s most erotic masterpiece,” along with its effect on a young woman (the author) who set out to be its official “copyist.”  Ultimately, it is the painting itself that liberates and transforms the protagonist—just as it will liberate and transform the reader! It certainly did that for me, cutting through all my ideas about the role of art and its depictions of the female body—in much the same way that Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings, and the nude photographs she posed for, liberates and transforms the protagonist of my own novel. 

L'Origine

By Lilianne Milgrom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of 5 major book awards, including the Publishers Weekly U.S. 2021 Selfies Award for Best Adult Fiction and winner of the IndieReader 2021 Discovery Award.

“L’Origine got me hooked—what a story! Milgrom brings the reader right along on her adventures as a copyist of one of the most well-known paintings in all the world.” —Harriet Welty Rochefort, author of French Fried, French Toast, Joie de Vivre, and Final Transgression

The riveting odyssey of one of the world’s most scandalous works of art.

In 1866, maverick French artist Gustave Courbet painted one of the most iconic images in the history…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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