Ten Books for Francophile Readers

This is your new reality: You are confined at home for the foreseeable future. Take advantage of this time to read. France-Amérique has compiled a list of 10 books in French, novels, essays on economy or history, graphic novels, and even a coffee-table book on French cheese! Some bookstores offer curbside delivery, and others, like Albertine in New York, made ordering books online easier by waiving the minimum purchase amount.
© Arte Editions

Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty, translated from French by Arthur Goldhammer (2020)

Six years after the publication of the 800-page bestseller Capital in the Twenty-First Century, in which he defended increased taxation on higher incomes to reduce inequalities, French economist and writer Thomas Piketty is back with a new subversive and even bigger work. Weighing in at 1,104 pages, Capital and Ideology was published in France last September and came out in the United States this March.

© Ed Alcock/The Guardian

2. Real Life by Adeline Dieudonné, translated from French by Roland Glasser (2020)

In her first novel, published in the U.S. in February, Belgian writer Adeline Dieudonné portrays a young girl struggling with her tyrannical father, a big-game hunter with a fascination for bloodshed. Awarded the Prix Renaudot des Lycéens in 2018, Real Life reveals an author with a singular perspective blending unease with dark humor.

© Stéphane Remael/Interlinks Image

3. Disturbance by Philippe Lançon, translated from French by Steven Rendall (2019)

In Disturbance, French writer and journalist Philippe Lançon describes his slow reconstruction after being severely wounded in the terrorist attack against newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. An intimate odyssey steeped in collective history, a major work sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who reads it.

© Aejandro Garcia/ EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

4. Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq, translated from French by Shaun Whiteside (2019)

The French writer, winner of the 2010 Prix Goncourt for The Map and the Territory, was 62 when he wrote another take on his favorite character, the depressed white male. While less political than Submission, the novel with a print run of 320,000 copies made the front pages in France, despite the author’s silence.

© Andreu Dalmeu/EPA/Shutterstock

5. Animalia by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, translated from French by Frank Wynne (2019)

French author Jean-Baptiste Del Amo won the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman for Une éducation libertine in 2008, and in 2016 published Règne animal (translated as Animalia), a denunciation of the violent treatment of animals. Driven by lyrical, organic writing, rarely does a book stimulate all the senses to such an extent, sometimes to the point of nausea.

© Michel Vanden Eeckhoudt/Agence VU'/Gallimard
6. Isadora by Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie, translated from French by Edward Gauvin (2019) Ninety years after her death, long-forgotten American dancer Isadora Duncan is back in the spotlight. She is the lead character in a graphic novel published in France by Dargaud in 2017 and translated into English by SelfMadeHero. Isadora retraces the fanciful life of the woman who revolutionized the world of dance, from her poor upbringing in San Francisco to her success in Paris in the early 20th century.
© Courtesy of SelfMadeHero

7. A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle by Julian Jackson (2018)

As historian Julian Jackson insists in the preface of his biography, published by Harvard University Press and translated in French by Seuil, De Gaulle is “everywhere” in modern France, an undisputed hero of World War II, a significant figure of republicanism, an amazing figure.

charles-de-gaulle-chartres-1944 (1)
© No. 5 Army Film and Photography Unit, colorized by R. White

8. Fromages: An Expert’s Guide to French Cheese by Dominique Bouchait, translated from French by Jonno Slysa (2019)

From Abondance in Haute-Savoie and Valençay in Berry to Corsican Brocciu and Munster from the Vosges, artisan cheesemaker Dominique Bouchait, winner of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France contest, presents 45 iconic French cheeses in a coffee-table book published by Rizzoli. A mouth-watering work filled with anecdotes and practical advice.

© Marie-Pierre Morel

9. Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French by John von Sothen (2019)

John von Sothen is an American columnist who lives in Paris, where he covers entertainment and society issues for French Vanity Fair. He moved there after meeting his French wife in a café in Brooklyn. Monsieur Mediocre, his first book, is a love letter to France – to its absurdities, its history, and its ideals.

© Jacques Pépion

10. Lucky Luke: A Cowboy in Paris by Achdé and Jul, translated from French by Jerome Saincantin (2019)

Lucky Luke is the main character in a Francophone comic-book series, but is all but unknown in the United States where the market is dominated by superheroes. For the first time ever, in A Cowboy in Paris, published in French and English, the sheriff has left the American West to visit France during the Belle Epoque.

© Luck Comics/Dargaud