LESSON #1: OUR FAVOURITE (FRENCH) WEEKEND READS

Written by Abbas Manai

Book stall in Paris


Bonjour tout le monde! Are you curled up comfortably?

If you follow us on social, you might have guessed BB HQ is home to a few keen readers. So we thought we’d share some of our favourite French books. Some are cast-iron classics while others are lighter but if literature doesn’t lure you, there’s always Paris Match.

And it’s no problem if you don’t parler français, they’re all available in translation. You could even go full immersion and try reading the French and English côte à côte (side by side)...

Bon, on commence! Let’s start with the heavyweights.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862)

A heavyweight in every sense – you might prefer to read Hugo’s whopping epic on Kindle. This one has leapt from page to stage to screen with huge success at every stage.

The timeless tale of ex-convict Jean Valjean’s quest for redemption and a good life for his child sweeps the reader through a rich patchwork of characters from tragic Fantine and innocent Cosette to thrusting young revolutionary Marius.

Challenging, thoughtful fiction worth switching your phone off for. All together now: ONE DAY MOOOORE....!!

Belle du Seigneur by Albert Cohen (1968)

A favourite of Bloobloom co-founder Fares, this exuberant satire follows a Jewish officer working for the League of Nations who embarks on a foxy affair with a married Swiss aristocrat. A sprawling comic novel exploring desire, culture and what it means to be Jewish, it takes an entertaining pop at middle-class pretentiousness.

Read as a standalone novel or enjoy it in context as the third book in a series of four by this Swiss author.

L'Amour Fou by Andre Breton (1937)

This novel from renowned Paris surrealist Breton is a favourite of BB team member Saria. An exhortation on love, as well as a celebration of a ‘mad love’ – as you’d expect from the title. The story explores the nature of thought, the existence of life and exactly why the world needs poetry. Saria deems it, “both wonderful and confounding”.

L'Étranger by Albert Camus (1942)

The title of Camus’ famous work can be translated as ‘The Stranger‘, or ‘The Outsider’ – and there the enigma begins for the English reader. Because those are two rather different things.

On the surface, it’s the tale of an anti-hero who cares little for anything or anyone and is drawn into a violent act which swerves his life from its tracks. Delve deeper and you get an absurd tale reflecting Camus’s own existentialist views.

Fluffy, non. Thought-provoking, OUI.

Comment Parler Des Livres Que L’On N’a Pas Lu by Pierre Bayard (2007)

The delightful title of this witty book from literature professor and psychoanalyst Bayard translates as ‘How to talk about books you haven’t read’. We loved it and so did most of France.

As big fans of spirited debate, we got on board with his view that you don’t need to have read a book in order to have an interesting conversation about it. But DO read this one – you might gain some compelling tools for life.


Bon, enough for today. Have a nice weekend – et bonne lecture!

Merci.
PHOTOS: Alex Vinogradov
WORDS: Eileen MacCallum