The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

The first questions my parents will ask they prepare for a trip is, what book are you going to read?  My mother will consult guidebooks, internet message boards and friends looking for a book that takes place in the city in which she’ll be going to.  My dad usually has some over-sized art or history tome that is, probably in some way, indirectly related to his destination.  I think it’s safe to say we know the origin of part of my reading gene.

I usually, however, choose not to read books correlated to my trips, mainly because there are so many I want to read.  It seems like a bit of a struggle to go through all the trouble to find the proper one.  For my recent trip to Paris two months ago, the proper book practically fell into my lap.  I was glad it did.

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz, discusses Lebovitz’s life and experiences in Paris.  It’s not quite like Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down, which focuses instead on the process of assimilating to life in Paris.  It also doesn’t jive with Lunch in Paris, which does talk about food, but focuses much more on the personal aspect of choosing to live abroad.  No, The Sweet Life in Paris talks Lebovitz’s quick, snappy, blog-style writing and organizes into a cohesive, laugh-inducing story that will make blog readers, Francophiles and travellers of any sort eager to turn the page.

Adimittedly, my mother and I tried to read this book once before and didn’t succed.  My mother didn’t always like Lebovitz’s ironic style and I was on spring break.  After my more intensive experiences living abroad (hey there Italy!) and watching a video of Lebovitz’s time at Patrick Roger, we both felt a change of heart.

Lebovitz takes the oft-mundane details of daily life, the details that will inevitably become a challenge when living in a new country, and discusses them with a biting hilarity that is cathartic to anyone who has been jumped in line by hot-blooded Europeans a few too many times.  While there are recipes, this book isn’t about food.  It’s a book about adjusting to a new environment through food and food culture.

The chapters are written short and snappy, like blog posts, making the book easy to read.  You can pick up a part, dip in and move around without feeling the compulsion to continue.  This isn’t a short story collection, though.  Each individual story weaves together to create a plot that brings the reader to a greater understanding of French culture and what the heck it is Lebovitz does in Paris all day.

If you’re taking a trip to Paris, read this book.  Don’t have a trip on the horizon?  Read this book.  If you need a little taste of what you’re in for, look at this blog post here.  Yep, it’s safe to say I’m a huge Lebovitz fan now.  You’re welcome.

Are there any books you’ve tried to read once, didn’t like and then returned to again and loved?

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