Posts Tagged ‘books’

3:16 am

Venturing into Montparnasse

I had occasion yesterday to visit the Institut Catholique de Paris (where I plan to be starting my business French course later this month). I haven’t been in that neighborhood before, so I did a little exploring.

I found Saint Sulpice, which has been suffering from unwanted notoriety as a result of The Da Vinci Code. More recently though, I had read an article, by Rick Steves in the travel section of, about the organ and organist. As a result, I’ve had it in mind to venture out that way for Sunday Mass some week, but just haven’t gotten to it yet. In the meantime, I have to say that it’s not a particularly attractive church, though I can’t put my finger on just what I dislike about it.

The Jardin du Luxembourg and the Palais du Luxembourg are also in that general area:

The Jardin is, according to my guidebook, a popular weekend hangout for families, but on a winter weekday, it’s pretty bleak. The Palais is now the seat for the French Senate, so it’s not generally open to visitors. I’m not sure if the Senate is sitting just now, although I saw lights on and there are police patrolling:

I also found a perfectly scrumptious bookstore: Librairie La Procure. The books are all in French, of course, but I still had a marvelous time wandering about and dreaming of the day when my French is good enough to justify a buying spree!

4:20 am

Biblioholic in withdrawal

When I arrived in France, I carried with me only a few books: my Bible, a couple of reference books on living on France, and a few novels. My intent had been to have a few boxes of books, constituting what I consider my "core" library, shipped to me here. However, as things fell out, I ended up trying to do this just hours before my flight, and I ran into so many problems at the Post Office that I just gave up and had them shipped to my brother instead. (With many thanks to Uncle Arnold for helping with the process and to Little Brother for housing my temporarily orphaned books!)

So, here I am, with hardly any of my own books. The apartment has a bookcase, tiny by my standards, of course, with a modest selection of books, including some in English. I’ve thought about asking my brother to start sending some of my books, but then reconsidered. I’ll only be in this apartment for a few months, and then I’ll have to find a new home. Really, wouldn’t it be better to wait until I’m properly settled before sending for my books? (It’s way traumatic on books to have to settle into new homes: they’re worse than cats that way. Not that books are happy about being mushed into boxes either. But it’s the lesser of two evils.)

No, the answer, it seems, is to build a new and modest library, comprised mainly of books that I can love & leave.

There are several bookstores in Paris that carry English language books, and I’ve visited two of them so far: Librarie Galignani and W.H. Smith, both on the Rue de Rivoli. Disciplining myself strictly, I came away with only two books.

Books are so expensive in France, though: even ordinary paperbacks start at a little over 10€ (about $13-14 at current exchange rates). I did a little online comparison shopping at,, and, and found that, even with shipping costs added in, ended up being least expensive. That may be in part a function of the books I chose, and I’ll continue the comparative shopping routine to be sure. But in the meantime I’ve expanded my local library by another eight books.

There’s also the French missal that I bought, since I don’t know the Mass responses in French, and my French isn’t quite up to the task of following the readings just by listening.

So here I am, barely three weeks into my stay, and I’ve already bought ten (or eleven, if you want to be picky) new books. (I’ve also finished five, including some I brought or found already here, and have three in progress.) And I consider myself justifiably proud of my self-restraint!

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