The most recommended books about France

Who picked these books? Meet our 816 experts.

816 authors created a book list connected to France, and here are their favorite France books.
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What type of France book?


Book cover of Journal à quatre mains

Robert Gildea Author Of Marianne in Chains: Daily Life in the Heart of France During the German Occupation

From my list on France in the Second World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of France, seduced since I did an exchange with a French family aged fourteen and was a student in Paris in my gap year, aged eighteen, in the aftermath of 1968. Since then I have been fascinated by the tension between la France profonde and revolutionary France. France in the Second World War is a wonderful place to study both, shattered by defeat, foreign occupation and division, and generating huge amounts of literature and film, myth-making, historical research and controversy.

Robert's book list on France in the Second World War

Robert Gildea Why did Robert love this book?

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.

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

Book cover of Napoleon: The Decline and Fall of an Empire: 1811-1821

Ambrogio A. Caiani Author Of Losing a Kingdom, Gaining the World: The Catholic Church in the Age of Revolution and Democracy

From Ambrogio's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Historian Academic

Ambrogio's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Ambrogio A. Caiani Why did Ambrogio love this book?

The fall of Empires is always painful regardless of their nature.

This was definitely the case for Napoleon's ephemeral Western European multiethnic polity. Within three short years, his imperial dream of placing Europe under a uniform system collapsed, soaked in blood and consumed by flames.

This is the final volume of Michael Broers's definitive three-volume history of Napoleon. He combines the erudition of Edward Gibbon in chronicling the decline and fall of the Napoleonic behemoth with the nostalgia and sensitivity of Marcel Proust.

Every page is a work of art and spellbinding. 

By Michael Broers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


An accomplished Oxford scholar delivers a dynamic new history covering the last chapter of the emperor's life-from his defeat in Russia and the drama of Waterloo to his final exile-as the world Napoleon has created begins to crumble around him.

In 1811, Napoleon stood at his zenith. He had defeated all his continental rivals, come to an entente with Russia, and his blockade of Britain seemed, at long last, to be a success. The emperor had an heir on the way with his new wife, Marie-Louise, the young daughter of the Emperor of Austria.…

Book cover of Cheffes de Cuisine: Women and Work in the Professional French Kitchen

David E. Sutton Author Of Bigger Fish to Fry: A Theory of Cooking as Risk, with Greek Examples

From my list on scholarly reads about cooking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in food, even as young as 3 years old I remember wanting to taste everything, and I found the process of cooking fascinating. But I really got interested in food as a topic for research during my time studying Greek culture for my PhD thesis. People on the island of Kalymnos, where I’ve conducted research for 30 years, made a strong connection between food and memory, but it was a connection that few scholars have written about until recently. So I’ve been excited to participate in a new field reflected by all of these books, and hope you will be as well.

David's book list on scholarly reads about cooking

David E. Sutton Why did David love this book?

Cheffes explores the lives and the challenges facing female chefs and chefs-in-training in Lyon, France.

It also provides compelling first-hand experiences of the author who went through training while pregnant as well. Black’s account of the tribulations of professional female "cheffes" against a background of prejudice and harassment seemed very relevant to our contemporary discussions.

But what really stood out for me about this is that she contextualizes the story within the history of Lyon, famous both for its cuisine and for its legendary female cheffes. Black ties together past and present beautifully in her account, giving a real sense of continuity and change in the food world.

By Rachel E. Black,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Works of Distinction, LDEI M.F.K. Fisher Prize for Excellence in Culinary Media Content, 2022

A rare woman's-eye-view of working in the professional French kitchen

Though women enter France's culinary professions at higher rates than ever, men still receive the lion's share of the major awards and Michelin stars. Rachel E. Black looks at the experiences of women in Lyon to examine issues of gender inequality in France's culinary industry. Known for its female-led kitchens, Lyon provides a unique setting for understanding the gender divide, as Lyonnais women have played a major role in maintaining the city's culinary heritage and its…

Book cover of The Black Death

David Green Author Of The Hundred Years War: A People's History

From my list on the late medieval crisis: war and plague in Britain and France.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was drawn into the study of medieval history through an interest in chivalry and this led to a PhD and various publications on the career and household of Edward the Black Prince (1330-76). He lived through the heart of what’s become known as the late medieval crisis: a period which many contemporaries thought was a prelude to the apocalypse. I’ve been teaching and writing about this period for more than 20 years now and remain fascinated by the contrasts between creativity and utter devastation that characterise the later middle ages.

David's book list on the late medieval crisis: war and plague in Britain and France

David Green Why did David love this book?

This is a wonderfully curated selection of sources drawn from many western European countries. They offer us a real sense of how individuals, groups, governments and the Church reacted to this, perhaps the most appalling natural disaster in European history. We learn not only of political but personal and psychological reactions to a plague which most contemporaries viewed as a manifestation of divine anger with a sinful world.

By Rosemary Horrox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This series provides texts central to medieval studies courses and focuses upon the diverse cultural, social and political conditions that affected the functioning of all levels of medieval society. Translations are accompanied by introductory and explanatory material and each volume includes a comprehensive guide to the sources' interpretation, including discussion of critical linguistic problems and an assessment of recent research on the topics covered.

From 1348 to 1350 Europe was devastated by an epidemic that left between a third and one half of the population dead. This source book traces, through contemporary writings, the calamitous impact of the Black Death…

Book cover of Rebellion

Wolfric Styler Author Of Troubled Zen

From my list on action series with characters in the military.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been in various militaries for over 17 years and am proud of my service. Troubled Zen is my first foray into the publishing world and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I enjoy the ex-military hero-style action/ thriller novels because I find that I can understand their mindset and relate well with their characters. I found most were male, ex-special forces so I chose a female Explosive Ordnance Disposal member as I believe that there are plenty of aspects to investigate that can show how a woman can be equally tough, stubborn, ingenious, brave, and determined.

Wolfric's book list on action series with characters in the military

Wolfric Styler Why did Wolfric love this book?

This series about a Bow Street Runner piqued my interest as, like Reacher and Sharpe, he is a bit of a rogue but tries to do what is right while also breaking the rules at times. What appeals to me about his character is that he was unjustly discharged but did his best to secure another profession that tries to help people. The description and action scenes are very believable however Hawkwood isn’t as indestructible as Reacher. His vulnerability and pragmatism are features that I have molded into the main character in my novel too.

By James McGee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rebellion is brewing in Napoleonic Paris, in the new action-packed novel from the author of the bestselling Ratcatcher

October 1812: Britain and France are still at war. France is engaged on two battle fronts - Spain and Russia - and her civilians are growing weary of the fight. Rebellion is brewing. Since Napoleon Bonaparte appointed himself as First Consul, there have been several attempts to either kill or overthrow him. All have failed, so far...

Meanwhile in London, Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood has been seconded to the foreign arm of the Secret Service. There, he meets the urbane Henry…

Book cover of Curvilinear Perspective from Visual Space to the Constructed Image

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Author Of Vanishing Point: Perspective for Comics from the Ground Up

From my list on for people who draw people.

Why am I passionate about this?

Drawing and painting people has been my passion and my profession for a couple of decades now. Fine art, comic books, animation, illustration – as long as I'm drawing people, I'm happy. I love the challenge of trying to capture (or create) a living, breathing, thinking person on paper. And I love talking about art books with other artists. Which ones are great, which ones miss the mark, which ones have tiny hidden gems in them. This list is a mix of books I love, and books I heartily recommend.

Jason's book list on for people who draw people

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Why did Jason love this book?

This is my list so I wanted to include this book that was so key to me. This is an art book, but it's a very math-y art book with very few illustrations and almost no how-to step-by-step illustrations. It has pages and pages of “to draw a line from 30 degrees above the horizon and 15 degrees to the left of center etc. etc. etc.” text. It's a dense read, but it was the book that solved six-point perspective for me, which was a topic I'd been working feverishly on for a solid year and couldn't quite nail on my own. It really opened up my understanding of perspective, especially curvilinear perspective drawing. I owe this book (and Flocon and Barre) a lot.

Book cover of Have Mercy on Us All

Janice Law Author Of Fires of London

From my list on unexpected detectives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a long-time writer and reader of mystery novels and short stories, but I have also written contemporary novels, scholarly work in history and culture, and history books. I am particularly interested in the psychology of crime and of detectives, and in each of the books I’ve recommended, the characters are drawn with unusual subtlety and depth or are interestingly eccentric. In addition, Vargas’s novels usually include interesting and little-known historical information, while Tallis’s Lieberman Papers series gives a lively picture of Vienna in its golden age of culture without neglecting the disquieting anti-Semitism and political unrest under the surface.

Janice's book list on unexpected detectives

Janice Law Why did Janice love this book?

The chief attraction of Fred Vargas’s novels is her cast of characters, led by Chief Inspector Adamsberg, a most unconventional leader of any criminal investigation outfit. Small and disheveled, good with animals and children, dreamy and often seemingly idle, Adamsberg is not only extremely bright but has confidently surrounded himself with remarkable colleagues. Hard-drinking Adrien Danglard, a single father of five with a huge store of ready information, and Violette Retancourt, a woman of prodigious strength and courage, are among his entertaining subordinates, along with Snowball, the division’s cat that proves equally remarkable in one memorable outing. 

By Fred Vargas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Have Mercy on Us All as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joss le Guern is a town crier in Paris's 14th arrondissement. He calls out the local news three times a day to all who will listen. Over the course of a few days, however, a number of enigmatic and disturbing messages are slipped in to the daily news, and he becomes increasingly alarmed. Superintendent Adamsberg is visited by an extremely troubled woman who has found strange marks on the door of her building: upside down 4s marked out in black paint. This, and the appearance of the frightening messages, are exactly the kind of mysteries Adamsberg loves. In the course…

Book cover of The Doughboys: The Story of the AEF, 1917-1918

Stephen L. Harris Author Of Duty, Honor, Privilege: New York City's Silk Stocking Regiment and the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line

From my list on World War I and America's role in it.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading my great uncle’s war letters home to Kansas City and seeing his artwork—he was a magazine illustrator in civilian life and then editor of the 27th Empire Division’s magazine, Gas Attack—I knew, as a writer, I had to put his story down on paper. What his National Guard regiment did, the 107th, simply blew me away. From writing about what the 107th endured in the Great War, I was carried away to tackle the all-black 369th Regiment, famously known as Harlem’s Hell Fighters. I then had to tell the story of New York City’s most famous regiment, the Fighting 69th. My trilogy of New York’s National Guard in the war is now done.

Stephen's book list on World War I and America's role in it

Stephen L. Harris Why did Stephen love this book?

Stallings was there, on the frontlines, fighting. He was wounded, lost a leg. He received the Croix de Guerre from the French government and the Silver Star and Purple Heart from his government. Reading his book, you’re right there with the first Americans landing in France and then following them and those who came after right up until the armistice on November 11, 1918. He also published an award-winning photographic history of the war, wrote a novel about his experiences and, in 1924, with playwright Maxwell Anderson, co-wrote the famous play that twice was turned into a movie, “What Price Glory.” If you want to know what World War I was like for America, it’s well worth the read.

By Laurence Stallings,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

nice vintage book/no DJ/blue boards/no markings/ tight binding/BEST VALUE/FAST SHIPPING/OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE/

Book cover of The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978--1979

David Theo Goldberg Author Of The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism

From my list on spotlighting race and neoliberalization.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up and completed the formative years of my college education in Cape Town, South Africa, while active also in anti-apartheid struggles. My Ph.D. dissertation in the 1980s focused on the elaboration of key racial ideas in the modern history of philosophy. I have published extensively on race and racism in the U.S. and globally, in books, articles, and public media. My interests have especially focused on the transforming logics and expressions of racism over time, and its updating to discipline and constrain its conventional targets anew and new targets more or less conventionally. My interest has always been to understand racism in order to face it down.

David's book list on spotlighting race and neoliberalization

David Theo Goldberg Why did David love this book?

In these extraordinary lectures, Foucault offers a comprehensive social history of neoliberal theory from the 1920s to 1980 in Germany, France, Britain, and the U.S. While this work does not focus on racism, Foucault critically elaborates neoliberalism’s defining ideas: the attack on the state and dissipation of the commons, the privatization of everything, and the individualizing of all responsibility; financializing all social and individual choice, while redefining social subjectivity as “the Man of Enterprise,” of innovation and self-making. Foucault opened me to seeing how the liberal in “neoliberalism” signals the elevation of individual freedom as a counter to state power and social support. The question this raised for me is how these shifts in social thought suggest new developments in racist expression.

By Michel Foucault,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Michel Foucault's lectures at the College de France in 1979, The Birth of Biopolitics, pursue and develop further the themes of his lectures from the previous year, Security, Territory, Population. Having shown how Eighteenth century political economy marks the birth of a new governmental rationality -- seeking maximum effectiveness by governing less and in accordance with the naturalness of the phenomena to be governed -- Michel Foucault undertakes the detailed analysis of the forms of this liberal governmentality. This involves describing the political rationality within which the specific problems of life and population were posed: "Studying liberalism as the general…

Book cover of Last Letters: Prisons and Prisoners of the French Revolution 1793-1794

Graeme Fife Author Of The Terror: The Shadow of the Guillotine - France 1793-1794

From my list on the terror of the French Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a professional writer for over 40 years. Much of my work has been focused on biographies and historical drama for radio. Both topics involve extensive research. The French Revolution has always fascinated me. The stories about the wild extremes of human behaviour exercise a morbid power on the imagination. I have written much on the subject and the people caught up in, and often generating, the madness and inhuman folly. I have, I believe, developed a particular feel for the period and the lesson it teaches us. My book about the Terror is the culmination of many years of study and deliberation. I write well, vividly, and forcefully and I speak and read French.

Graeme's book list on the terror of the French Revolution

Graeme Fife Why did Graeme love this book?

Blanc discovered in the National Archives in Paris a remarkable cache of letters kept in an old tin labelled as the property of Fouquier-Tinville, the Public Prosecutor of the French revolutionary Tribunal. He was a man who in sending off the last batch of victims to be beheaded, even after hearing that Robespierre was dead and with him, the Terror, said ‘justice must run its course’

The letters, written by prisoners on the eve of their own execution, to wife, family, plangent pleas to be remembered – some containing a little keepsake: a shirt stud, maybe – were never delivered, but, on Fouquier’s order, impounded as possible evidence. Post mortem? What was the point? The letters are heart-rending, sad, pathetic, drained of hope, but as poignant a souvenir of the effect of the vicious law which was sending their authors to the scaffold as any you will read. Fouquier, whose…

By Olivier Blanc,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drawing on a centuries-old file, this volume reproduces the last letters by prisoners of the French Revolution in the last few moments before their death, and sheds new light on this turbulent time