The most recommended Francophile books

Who picked these books? Meet our 4 experts.

4 authors created a book list connected to Francophiles, and here are their favorite Francophile books.
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Book cover of The French Art of Living Well: Finding Joie de Vivre in the Everyday World

Janet Hulstrand Author Of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

From Janet's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Reader Editor Francophile Minnesotan Once and forever Brooklynite

Janet's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Janet Hulstrand Why did Janet love this book?

As a dedicated Francophile, I love books that celebrate all that is wonderful about the French, and this book definitely falls into that category. It is, however, not blindly celebratory.

Cathy Yandell’s love of France and the French is tempered by a balanced view of French life: the stories she tells about her experiences in France over a period of 40-some years provide insight into some of the ways that American and French sensibilities (and habits and ways) can occasionally collide. All of this is recounted with humor and affection—from a soundly American, French-loving point of view.

I also love this book for the abundance of practical information about a variety of topics, including suggestions for good contemporary French books, films, and recording artists. 

By Cathy Yandell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What is joie de vivre, and why is it a fundamentally French concept?

In search of those ineffable qualities that make up the joy of living, this lively book takes readers on a voyage to France through forays into literature, history, and culture. How does art contribute to daily life? Why is cuisine such a central part of French existence? Why are the French more physical than many other cultures? How do French attitudes toward time speak volumes about their sense of pleasure and celebration? And finally, to what extent is this zest for life exportable? These and other questions…

Book cover of Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart

Julie Barlow Author Of The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed

From my list on understanding the French.

Who am I?

I have been writing books about France and the French for two decades. The adventure began when I moved to Quebec in my early 20s and married a Quebecker. He became my life partner and co-author. I learned his language, immersed myself in Canada’s French-language culture and began writing articles in French. In 1999 we moved to France for three years to study the French. Three books later, we returned to Paris with our daughters to try to demystify French conversation. The result is The Bonjour Effect. I am grateful to the authors on my list for helping me refine my understanding of France, the French and their language. 

Julie's book list on understanding the French

Julie Barlow Why did Julie love this book?

Alexander’s book is a sort of memoir that recounts how, at a quite advanced age, he set out to become fluent in French. It’s funny, insightful, peppered with great observations, and has quite an amazing twist in the plot. His determination to master French – but also the research he explores about language learning in the process – will be inspiring for readers of all ages. A fun and motivating read.

By William Alexander,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

William Alexander is not just a Francophile, he wants to be French. It's not enough to explore the country, to enjoy the food and revel in the ambiance, he wants to feel French from the inside. Among the things that stand in his way is the fact that he can't actually speak the language. Setting out to conquer the language he loves (but which, amusingly, does not seem to love him back), Alexander devotes himself to learning French, going beyond grammar lessons and memory techniques to delve into the history of the language, the science of linguistics, and the art…

Book cover of Atomised

V.G. Yefimovich Author Of "Residue": A Philosophical "Graphic" Novel

From V.G.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Philosopher Yogi Sun-enjoyer

V.G.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

V.G. Yefimovich Why did V.G. love this book?

France has produced its fair share of “bad boys” in literature. Michel Houellebecq is among the most recent, and he is probably the ur-French bad boy of literature, with this book as his breakthrough novel.

Being a Francophile, I was inclined to like this book, but Houellebecq is a tremendous writer. Insightful and profound passages in this book intertwine with the humorous, embarassing, and painful elements of two men’s lives. It is frankly a sight to be seen, this book: certain passages will make you put it down and have a revelation.

You might not agree with all of the book. You may be offended (you probably will). But Houellebecq’s writing reminds us why people started to like literature at all (and I’m not talking about just storytelling): because it moves us.

By Michel Houellebecq, Frank Wynne (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Half-brothers Michel and Bruno have a mother in common but little else.

Michel is a molecular biologist, a thinker and idealist, a man with no erotic life to speak of and little in the way of human society.

Bruno, by contrast, is a libertine, though more in theory than in practice, his endless lust is all too rarely reciprocated.

Both are symptomatic members of our atomised society, where religion has given way to shallow 'new age' philosophies and love to meaningless sexual connections.

Atomised tells the stories of the two brothers, but the real subject of the novel is the…

Book cover of The Little Paris Bookshop

Janet Hubbard Author Of Champagne

From my list on modern day France containing food and wine.

Who am I?

I went to Paris the first time when I was nineteen. I was sitting in a cheap restaurant when a man entered carrying a burlap sack filled with escargots, and put some on my plate (all very unsanitary) for me to taste. Delicious! I was in France in the 1970s when Robert Parker was discovering French wine. (We didn’t meet then, but did after my series was published many years later.)  Subsequent stays in Paris and other areas of France (Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy) afforded me a food and wine sensibility that over decades has permeated my lifestyle, my friendships—and my writing.

Janet's book list on modern day France containing food and wine

Janet Hubbard Why did Janet love this book?

This is a novel that I read in one day, warming to the grieving protagonists who have found each other, and particularly struck by their first meal together—fish poached in cream and white wine, new potatoes roasted in garlic and rosemary, pears and cheese, and with a beautiful French wine to accompany it. In my mind romance can’t exist without meals prepared from scratch and wine to go with it. The other secret ingredient in the novel is books, and the combination of food and wine, a romance, and a love of books gives this book a permanent place in my library. In fact, I am rereading it.

By Nina George,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The international bestseller, translated from the German by Simon Pare.

On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a 'literary apothecary', for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.

The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust…