Paris in July 2022: Day 6

Paris in July 2022 (Bigger Sunset)

Paris in July 2022
#ParisinJuly
Co-hosted by Readerbuzz and Thyme For Tea

Day 6

Sharing more on the 26 French books I have read so far this year.
Actually a lot of these I have listened to.

Click on the covers to read my full review,
or get more details on the books

Read in April-May:

Code Lupin Vanda

Code Lupin
The very first by Bussi. Not too good back then.

Vanda
VERDICT: Another powerful and very touching portrait of precariousness by Marion Brunet. She won’t let you be indifferent, and might even change your view of contemporary France.

Code 612 Nouvelle Babel

Code 612 : Qui a tué le Petit Prince ?
This one is a fun enigma trying to decipher a possible code hidden in The Little Prince, that would reveal what happened ultimately to its author – his body was never found.
I liked how Bussi managed to come up with so many ideas, based on true events, places, and texts.

Nouvelle Babel
Wow, another fantastic novel by Bussi, this time a mix of scifi, dystopia, and thriller. And a majestic reflection on totalitarianism, freedom, and globalization.
Plus a fantastic sample of the most amazing places on earth – not surprising from a geography teacher!
Technology now allows people to teleport wherever they want – almost. But at what cost?

L'Axe du loup La Nuit des temps

L’Axe du loup
Another brilliant book by Tesson. This time, he wants to walk in the footsteps of the 7 prisoners who escaped (maybe?) from the gulag, as retold in the fascinating book, The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom, by Slavomir Rawicz.

La Nuit des temps
I loved how this scifi book worked on the tension between the very old and the new (some of the inventions described in that book exist now, but not when he wrote the book I believe).

  Les Dieux voyagent toujours incognito Le Pays où l'on n'arrive jamais

Les dieux voyagent toujours incognito
Like in Intuitio, Gounelle seems to enjoy focusing on some psychological dimension. At the beginning, this novel even sounds like a self-help book about self-confidence.
But it becomes much more than that, and goes from twists to more twists!

Le Pays où l’on n’arrive jamais
I adored it as a teen.
Just as sublime. Loved it so much, and I’m sure I appreciated even more the amazing descriptions of nature, of forests.

  Le voyage d'Octavio The Mystery of Henri Pick

Le Voyage d’Octavio
This is the delightful portrait of a both simple (illiterate even at first) and sophisticated man (a real artist) in Venezuela.

Le Mystère Henri Pick
Wow, how come I had never read anything by Foenkinos?
Really enjoyed this mystery/literary fiction focused on the world of books, libraries, authors, and publication.
I loved the characters, their stories, and how one plot leads to the next.

HAVE YOU READ THESE BOOKS?
OR BOOKS BY THESE AUTHORS?

2022 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: June checkpoint

tbr 2022 rbrbutton

#TBR2022RBR

It’s good Adam does regular checkpoints, great prompt to finally review the books I have read so far for this challenge.

Thomas Jefferson's Crème Brûlée Thomas Jefferson’s Crème brûlée:
How a Founding father and his slave James Hemings introduced French cuisine to America, by Thomas J. Craughwell
Nonfiction/History/Food and drink
234 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Quirk Books (first published January 1st 2012)

Not sure why I waited ten years to read this. I got it, then got rid of it, and another copy mysteriously showed up on my shelf.
I really enjoyed the writing, the description of what people were eating and drinking at the time, both in the US and in France. I learned a lot about the origin of some dishes.
There’s obviously mention of historical events in both countries (the French Revolution for instance).
I visited Monticello fairly recently, so it was neat to read about his amazing (vegetable) gardens.
My only problem with the book is the subtitle. Note that crème brûlée in the title is correctly written with the correct French accents!
But the book actually does not have about James Hemings’ years in Paris. There are a few things, but I was expecting many more details.
Still, there are several fascinating points about slavery, and the non existence of slavery in France at the time.
The author helps us understand that Jefferson treated his slaves so much better than most owners: good salary (for instance when James was in France with him), buying their produce, encouraging them to learn to read (a possible cause of death for slaves in many other households at the time in Southern US), and actually freeing hundreds of them.
The book included pictures of original documents, for instance French recipes written by hand by James Hemings.

Le voyage d'Octavio

Le Voyage d’Octavio,
by Miguel Bonnefoy
Literary fiction/Magical realism

137 pages
First published January 7th 2015
Translated in English as
Octavio’s Journey, by Emily Boyce
(Gallic Books)

Another book that has been for too long on my bookshelf.
This is the delightful portrait of a both simple (illiterate even at first) and sophisticated man (a real artist) in Venezuela.
I really loved discovering more of Venezuela through his eyes. It’s the story of his journey, bother inner and exterior, the people he met, and what he did to survive.
The text is very simple but almost poetic at the same time.
The very last pages are very powerful and witness to the ultimate transformation of Octavio. I had never read anything by Miguel Bonnefoy, I’ll definitely need to try another of his books.

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun,
by Lorraine Hansberry
Play
162 pages

Published in 1959

Wow, I was totally stunned by this play, which obviously I should have read years ago.
I’m amazed that a very young African-American woman would have written that in the late 1950s. That was gutsy and so well done.
Admirable portrait of life for Black families in South Side Chicago after WWII, and what may happen to your dreams when you are coming from a minority background.
I like the ambiguous ending, which could point to finally getting closer to your dream, but with the assurance that you will need to fight further to really reach them, if ever.

Stuart Little

Stuart Little,
by E. B. White
Childrens fiction

131 pages
Published in 1945

I didn’t grow up in an English speaking country, and only very recently did I read and adore Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan.
So it was fun to discover now Stuart Little, a strange tiny mouse born to humans. This is the cause for many tough situations, but also opportunities for all kinds of discoveries.
And his friendship with a bird will start him on a life journey of adventures.
This is a delightful coming of age story, full of fun and wisdom. Without ever giving you the impression of teaching you.
Really a very gifted author.
Has anyone here ever read his Essays?

📚 📚 📚

Here is my full list for this challenge:

  1. Thomas Jefferson’s Crème brûlée: How a Founding father and his slave James Hemings introduced French cuisine to America, by Thomas J. Craughwell 6/12/22
  2. Le Voyage d’Octavio, by Miguel Bonnefoy 5/22/22
  3. A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry 5/21/22
  4. Stuart Little, by E.B. White 5/18
  5. The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells
  6. Eventide, by Kent Haruf
  7. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
  8. Ensemble, c’est tout, by Anna Gavalda
  9. Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit
  10. Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, by Haruki Murakami
  11. Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence, by Peter C. Bouteneff
  12. A is For Alibi, by Sue Grafton

Alternates:
11. Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the French, by Harriett Welty Rochefort
12. The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, by Graham Robb

TBR 2022

HOW ARE YOU DOING SO FAR WITH YOUR CHALLENGES?

The top 8 books to read in May 2022

Here are
The top 8 books
I plan to read in May 2022

Click on the covers to know more

📚 CURRENTLY READING 📚

Under Lock and Skeleton Key  La Nuit des temps

📚 Under Lock & Skeleton Key, by Gigi Pandian
Cozy mystery
March 15th 2022, by Minotaur Books
Received for review

I enjoyed a previous book by this author, MichelAngelo’s Ghost, so I thought I would this one a try.

Under Lock & Skeleton Key layers architecture with mouthwatering food in an ode to classic locked-room mysteries.
An impossible crime. A family legacy. The intrigue of hidden rooms and secret staircases.
After a disastrous accident derails Tempest Raj’s career, and life, she heads back to her childhood home in California to comfort herself with her grandfather’s Indian home-cooked meals. Though she resists, every day brings her closer to the inevitable: working for her father’s company. Secret Staircase Construction specializes in bringing the magic of childhood to all by transforming clients’ homes with sliding bookcases, intricate locks, backyard treehouses, and hidden reading nooks.
When Tempest visits her dad’s latest renovation project, her former stage double is discovered dead inside a wall that’s supposedly been sealed for more than a century. Fearing she was the intended victim, it’s up to Tempest to solve this seemingly impossible crime. But as she delves further into the mystery, Tempest can’t help but wonder if the Raj family curse that’s plagued her family for generations—something she used to swear didn’t exist—has finally come for her.
 ”

📚  La Nuit des temps, by René Barjavel
Science-fiction published in 1968 (France)
Was published in English as The Ice People
Reading with one of my French students.
It counts for The Classics Club

We are almost done, and are really enjoying it, even though some mentality feels really 1960s. At the same time, there are surprising inventions for the time.
Interesting scifi that connects both very ancient times and modernity.

“When a French expedition in Antarctica reveals ruins of a 900,000 year old civilization, scientists from all over the world flock to the site to help explore & understand. The entire planet watches via global satellite tv, mesmerized, as they uncover a chamber in which a man & a woman have been in suspended animation since, as the French title suggests, ‘the night of time’. The woman, Eléa, is awakened.
Through a translating machine she tells the story of her world, herself & her husband Paikan & how war destroyed her civilization. She also hints at an incredibly advanced knowledge her still-dormant companion possesses, knowledge that could give energy & food to all humans at no cost. But the superpowers of the world are not ready to let Eléa’s secrets spread, & show that, 900,000 years & an apocalypse later, humankind has not grown up & is ready to make the same mistakes again.”

📚 READING NEXT 📚

The Last House on Needless Street  A Raisin in the Sun

  Le voyage d'Octavio  When I Whistle  

📚 The Last House on Needless Street, by Catriona Ward
Horror? Psychological thriller?
March 18th 2021 by Viper
Received for review

I really have no idea why I accepted to review this book. Many readers classify it as horror, a genre I don’t read. Though several of you have told me it’s more psychological thriller. We’ll see how it goes.

“This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.
All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…
You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.
In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…”

📚 A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry
Play
Published in 1959
Will be reading for The Classics Club and for the 2022 TBR Pile Reading Challenge, yes, FINALLY!!

Really looking forward to finally discover this play.

“Lorraine Hansberry’s award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America–and changed American theater forever.  The play’s title comes from a line in Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem,” which warns that a dream deferred might “dry up/like a raisin in the sun.””

📚 Le Voyage d’Octavio, by Miguel Bonnefoy
French literary fiction
Published in 2015

Published in English as Octavio’s Journey 
(April 18th 2017, by Gallic Books)

I can’t remember if I ever read anything by him. So it should be a nice (re?)discovery.

The story of Venezuela told through the adventures of kindly giant, Octavio. Struggling to conceal his illiteracy, he embarks on a transformative journey that unearths his life’s purpose.
Winner of several literary awards, this critically-acclaimed and instantly engaging tale reveals Miguel Bonnefoy to be a gifted storyteller.
 ”

📚 When I Whistle, by Shusaku Endo
Japanese literature
Published in 1974

I only read 9/12 Japanese books I planned to read between January-March (Japanese Literature Challenge), so I’m planning to go on with my original list.
I have only read a short collection of five stories by this author, so I’m eager to dive more in.
The synopsis makes reference to Never Let Me Go. Really? We’ll see.

One of Endo’s most unusual and powerful novels is set largely in a modern hospital, with themes and scenes that eerily seem to predate Never Let Me Go.
A jaded businessman has a chance encounter with the doctor son of his best friend at school, Ozu, and memories are stirred of a former love interest of Ozu’s, Aiko. The son of his friend proves to be contemptuous of the outmoded values of his father’s world and ruthless in pursuit of success at his hospital. The story reaches a terrible climax when Aiko, now a middle-aged cancer-sufferer, is admitted to the hospital and Ozu leads the way in experimenting on her with dangerous drugs.”

🎧 CURRENT AND NEXT AUDIOBOOKS 🎧

L'Axe du loup  Les Dieux voyagent toujours incognito

🎧  L’axe du loup: De la Sibérie à l’Inde, sur les pas des évadés du goulag, by Sylvain Tesson
French nonfiction
Published in 2007

This is my 5th book by Tesson, and it’s another fabulous read. They all are.
His descriptions of landscapes, of people he meets, his references to history and culture, are so so good.
Too bad this is not available in English.

“The axis of the wolf: From Siberia to India, in the footsteps of escapees from the gulag.
For eight months, Sylvain Tesson redid the long journey from Siberia to the Bay of Bengal that escapees from the gulag once made. To pay homage to those whose thirst for freedom triumphed over the greatest obstacles, he alone crossed the taigas, the Mongolian steppe, the Gobi desert, the Tibetan highlands, the Himalayan chain, the humid forest up to Darjeeling mountain. On foot, on horseback, by bicycle, over six thousand kilometers, he experienced what he willingly sought: cold, hunger, extreme loneliness. The splendor of Upper Asia rewarded him.”

🎧  Les dieux voyagent toujours incognito, by Laurent Gounelle
French literary fiction
Published in 2010

I recently listened to a rather original thriller by Gounelle, so I feel like trying another book by him.
Guess what? Not available in English.

“Imagine. A man saves your life, in exchange for your commitment to do whatever he asks of you… for your own good. Your back to the wall, you accept and you find yourself embroiled in an incredible situation where everything seems to escape you. You are no longer in control of your life and yet… in many ways it is more exciting than before!
But little by little, doubt settles in you: what are the real intentions of this man who interfered in your life? Who is he really? And who are these enigmatic characters in his entourage? The discoveries you make have nothing to reassure you.
This story, which immerses us in the bewitching atmosphere of a Parisian summer, opens the way to the most beautiful of reflections on ourselves: what can allow us to overcome our inhibitions, our fears and our conditioning, to get off the beaten path of our life when it does not bring us full satisfaction?”

📚 

This is a total of 8 books.
If I need more, I’ll keep working on my TBR Reading Challenge list.

Eiffel Tower Orange

HAVE YOU READ
OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ
ANY OF THESE?
WHAT ARE YOUR READING PLANS FOR MAY?

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