French-Inspired Summer Reading: 2014 Edition

School's out, beach bags are packed: summer is here! Which means it's time for a round-up of some of the best French-themed reads of the season. The advantage?  Many of them serve several purposes. Cookbooks and guidebooks now come brimming with the kinds of rich stories you won't be able to put down and are liable to inspire your next vacation. They also factor among my favorites this year. Here are a few of my picks: 

'The Paris Journal, Part I' by Nichole & Evan Roberston
What began as an e-book has become a stunning, printed story narrated by an anonymous, solo traveler intent on unraveling the city's multi-layered spirit over the course of one day. Seventeen chapters will leave you wanting more but rest assured: this is the first of several tales Nichole and Evan have ready to unfurl. 

'Hungry for Paris' (2nd Edition) and 'Hungry for France' by Alec Lobrano 
Not one but two must-have food bibles from the ever-prolific food and travel writer Alec Lobrano. France is essentially a vast canvas for culinary discovery, one that drew Alec in from his days as European correspondent for Gourmet Magazine. Take that experience, a finely-tuned palate and a profound appreciation for French cooking, old and new, and you have Alec's expert insights into an ever-changing and dynamic food scene. 'Hungry for Paris' is the second edition of his popular culinary guide-cum-memoir on life in Paris and features 109 of the city's best places to eat. As an ardent advocate for neighborhood bistros and brasseries, you'll find a wide range of recommendations in this book that go beyond the confines of trend rankings and heavily mediatised chefs. This is a non-negotiable must-have if you're a regular visitor to Paris or if you have a trip on the horizon.

On the other hand, do you think the only place for standout cuisine in France is in the capital? 'Hungry for France' proves there's reason to crow about the entire country by introducing some of the young, up-and-coming culinary talents in the French provinces whose work merits our attention. He pairs his signature descriptive style and deep understanding of what moves and inspires French people with his own personal tales of self-discovery through food. Added bonus: seventy-five thoughtful recipes to make this by far the most well-rounded guide to eating and cooking French cuisine. An absolutely delightful read!

For more, see my Franco File Friday interview with Alec

'My Paris Kitchen' by David Lebovitz 
This is unmistakably the best of David Lebovitz in one tome - a mix of his clever stripe of storytelling and over a hundred new recipes that reflect the way Parisians are eating today. This isn't a cookbook to be relegated to the bookshelf or kitchen, it's meant to be devoured like your favorite novel. To be paired with a glass of chilled rosé. 

Click here to read my recent interview with David on the new book and how and where he likes to travel. 

"Naughty Paris, Volume II" by Heather Stimmler-Hall
If anyone has cracked the surface of Paris's sensual leanings it's expat/journalist/tour guide Heather Stimmler-Hall. Her award-winning guidebook for women 'Naughty Paris: a Lady's Guide to the Sexy City' from 2008 has been revised and expanded to include even more tips for tapping into the city's hidden pleasures, from burlesque shows and kinky cabarets to insights on how French women embrace pleasure and beauty in their everyday lives.

Heather launched a KickStarter campaign to finance the printing and production costs (goal reached!). Supporters get an advanced copy of the book this summer (campaign ends July 7th) while others can pre-order for December delivery.

What are you reading this summer? 

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