June 22nd marks the annual celebration of National Chocolate Eclair Day, a day named in honor of the decadently filled creme pastries topped with chocolate coating. Eclairs are one of the most well know French pastries and are likely to be in any Paris cafe you visit. Chocolate eclairs were first created in the 18th century by Antonin Careme, a pastry chef who served French royalty. Eclair translates from French to “flash of lightning,” because the pastries will disappear that quickly when left unattended.
Although it might be unrealistic to eat an authentic French eclair on National Chocolate Eclair today, here is a list of six books that will help you feel like you are enjoying a pastry in a quaint Paris cafe. So sit down with your eclair, or any sweet treat of your choosing, and crack open one of these books.
1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna Oliphant’s life is flipped upside down when she is unexpectedly shipped to boarding school in Paris right before the start of her senior year. She has to leave her job, friends, and a budding romance behind in Atlanta, and trade it in for a new life in Paris. Things start to turn up when she meets Etienne St. Clair, and with his quick wit and charm, Anna begins to develop feelings for him. There is one problem though: St. Clair is already in a committed relationship. During her year in Paris, Anna navigates new friends and unrequited feelings in the city of lights.
2. Paris for One by Jojo Moyes
Heartbroken, frustrated, and in need of a change, twenty-six-year-old Nell journeys to Paris alone after her boyfriend bails on their vacation plans. With just herself to keep her company in a foreign city, Nell confronts the discomfort of traveling abroad solo. Her unexpected independence and newly found adventurous spirit surprise her as she journeys through her weekend getaway in the city of love.
3. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Some wounds need more than just medicine and time to heal. Monsieur Perdu prescribes customers who climb aboard his boat bookstore on the Seine with literature to treat their souls. Jean Perdu’s natural intuition has connected with countless people, yet he can’t seem to heal himself with his “literary apothecary.” With an old letter to guide him, Jean sets off on a quest to pursue his long-lost love. Jean is accompanied by his neighbor, Max Jordan, a young successful author, and Cuneo, an Italian chef they meet on their journey in this charming adventure filled with love, loss, and literature.
4. Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
Adam Gopnik’s collections of essays accumulate into a masterful representation of life in Paris from the perspective of an expatriate. Between 1995 and 2005, Gopnik, along with his wife and young son, ventured into a new, dynamic life in Paris. Gopnik details his interactions with French intellectuals and his discoveries of how American and French cultures clash. With his thorough knowledge of history and unique perspective, Gopnik creates an illuminating narrative of “La Vie Ordinaire” in France.
5. Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau
American teen Mia is studying at a prestigious summer ballet program with a fast deadline approaching. She has six weeks to secure an audition with the ballet company of her dreams. Mia knows she is destined to dance for the Paris Opera Ballet, and her success in her summer ballet program is necessary for achieving her goals. Mia’s concentration is challenged by the charm of Louis, a French boy who befriends her and injects some fun into her life occupied by strict regiment and flawless discipline.
6. The Red Notebook by Antoin Laurain
French bookseller Laurent Letellier is set on a mission when he finds an abandoned handbag on the streets of Paris and becomes determined to return it to its owner. Laurent searches through the bag and does not find any sort of clue to lead him to the mysterious owner, but he does discover a red notebook. The pages of the notebook are covered with words handwritten by the woman, and the contents of the notebook prove even further motivation for Laurent to track this woman down and, not only return the bag, but meet her too. Laurent journeys through the winding boulevards and bustling avenues of Paris in pursuit of one woman lost in a city of millions.
For more book recommendations, click here!