With the upcoming trip to Europe, the natural thing for me to do is read absolutely everything I can. I'd become sick of travel guides, so, so sick of travel guides (you don't want to know how many I borrowed from the library) but needed to satiate my need to know more. The answer is books, of course (and the internet--but I'll spare you all of my odd search phrases today), thus began my nonfiction kick this past week.
Londoners (Craig Taylor), I found oddly depressing with none of the romance or joie de vivre I expected--at least not in the first fifty pages. I promptly stopped reading after that, deciding I wanted to keep my rose-colored glasses for my actual trip to the city. Paris My Sweet (Amy Thomas) was, as promised in the title, a light confection of a book---and I suspect I will be blaming my ten-pound weight gain on her since she recommends a ridiculous number of (very tempting) boulangeries and patiserries. Thank goodness I will have my cousin to share sweets (and order in flawless French) for me! Tout Sweet (Karen Wheeler) was a little too Bridget Jones for me---what is amusing in fiction is a little more awkward to read when it happens to someone in real life, but I appreciated the perspective of the fashionable Brit (as opposed to hardened New Yorker, the usual protagonist in the "I'm moving to France" type books).
The winner, surprisingly, was I'll Never Be French (Mark Greenside). I cannot count the number of times I laughed out loud during my evening read, startling my husband out of his tablet-watching (how that can make someone sleepy I have no idea, but he has headphones on so I can't complain--better than a tv in the bedroom anyway). I truly enjoyed this book--full of dry humor followed by unexpectedly poignant thoughts of people and life. Typically, these kinds of travel narratives are all "Oh, this truly opened me up to living!" (think Eat, Pray, Love or Bella Tuscany). I think Greenside went beyond that, reminding me to be nicer to people now (no need to travel!) and think about how our interactions with people can change us as opposed to a place inspiring that change (although there is a lot of that too).
So many more books to read--maybe I will go on a Peter Mayle bend next.