How could you not feel inspired to crack open a book or notebook in Paris? After all, so many authors wrote some of their best work while living in the City of Light; you can feel their creative energy pulsing out of every corner of the city. We asked French authors, authors who’ve written about France’s luminaries, and well-traveled authors to share their favorite places to read and write in Paris (and beyond). Some answers put these authors in the shoes of their forebears, browsing the stacks at Shakespeare and Company for a sign of James Joyce’s workspace, or raising a martini to Ernest Hemingway at the Paris Ritz. But others find more unusual inspiration spots, from gardens to churches to cemeteries. Keep these reading and writing nooks in mind for your next trip!
Meet the Author
Anthony Marra’s new book, The Tsar of Love and Techno is, without a doubt, one of our favorite reads of 2015. Marra’s latest is an interwoven collection of short stories that reads like a novel; as each seemingly disparate chapter unfurls, you find its relation to the last through interlocking people, objects, and places.
Spanning decades in tumultuous Russia, the book tells stories of the resiliency of the human spirit and the ability to create and appreciate art, even in the most dire circumstances. Anthony Marra paints a picture of humanity with honesty, grace, and humor (you’ll definitely laugh out loud in parts). We might love this book even more than his smash-hit debut, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, but it’s a close call.
You can imagine how excited we were to sit down with Anthony Marra, talk to him about his book, and ultimately convince him to read us a passage from the title story, “The Tsar of Love and Techno.” (If you’d like to read along, it’s on page 193.) Here’s Marra’s introduction to the passage:
“This describes the first date that a character named Kolya has with Galina. Both of them are main characters that weave through some of these stories. It describes their first date and I love it because they’re walking around this place called Lake Mercury. This lake is in a town that is big on nickel mining, and Lake Mercury is so polluted with exotic chemicals that it doesn’t freeze, even in the middle of February. It’s surrounded by smokestacks called the twelve apostles. It seems like one of the grimmer places on earth. I love this little scene because Kolya invites Galina for a walk around this lake for their first date, and despite being in this rather unromantic climate, there’s an ethereal moment they have together.”
Dutch writer Peter Buwalda is keenly attuned to the ironies of being a successful novelist. “A successful writer is living a paradox,” Buwalda says from to his home in Amsterdam, where he moved after his gripping literary debut, Bonita Avenue, became a bestseller in Holland in 2010.
“Being successful and writing sort of exclude each other. Before I was a real recluse, and now I am an outgoing person. I have to be,” Buwalda says.
Until he was 34, he worked as an editor and journalist and was “a very fanatical reader.” Then he decided to write fiction and “changed like Gregor Samsa in the story by Kafka into a novelist. For me it was late, so I had to try to write a thick, serious novel at once, without hesitating, diving into the deep.”
“My novel Bittersweet is my attempt to write the kind of books I love to read when I’m on vacation,” says Miranda Beverly-Whittemore.
“My favorite beach reads mix high and low, they contain beautiful language and juicy plots, and they almost always contain some kind of central mystery, even if it’s not a traditional ‘whodunit’; I love a ‘what happened?’ (the darker the better, as far as I’m concerned!).”
Here are five of Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s favorite books to read in a deck chair.
“Every book is a separate little journey that we take it because we want to see where it leads,” says novelist Kieran Shields. “But alongside that desire to discover something new is a competing force, the pull of the familiar, that urge to search for a familiar face in a crowd, even when you’re in a strange new place. As intriguing as it is to start down a new road, it can feel all the richer for knowing that you’ll see old friends along the way. I suppose that’s the answer to why I wrote a sequel. I’d spent a lot of time with these characters in The Truth of All Things. I wasn’t ready to part company from them just yet. I wanted to know what happens next.”
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society – from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer. Susan Cain’s extraordinary bestselling book Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves. We asked Susan to share some tips for a quiet holiday. Enjoy!
“After A Dog Named Christmas was released, and made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, more than a few people agreed with me that holiday fostering could be done,” writes Greg Kincaid, author of A Christmas Home. “Primarily, they were people that loved dogs, or at least hated to see them suffer, and were willing to take a chance on saying yes to a different approach. Four years later, with the help of Petfinder.com, Random House, and Hallmark, Foster A Lonely Pet for the Holidays has moved from the pages of this little book and into over three thousand shelters that have chosen to say yes. The lives of tens of thousands of dogs and cats have been improved and, in most cases, literally saved. For the last several years, the animal shelter in my home town has sat virtually empty on Christmas Day. It’s a happy stillness.”
“One of my most cherished Thanksgivings occurred on a year when none of my traditional family was present,” shares Sarah McCoy, author of The Baker’s Daughter. “Some might think that a tragedy and others a blessing . . . . I’d recently moved to El Paso, Texas – two thousand miles from all of my beloved kin in the Virginia/DC Metro area. My husband had to work Thanksgiving eve, so we couldn’t fly home to be with everyone. In lieu of scampering about the kitchen baking with my mom, aunts and grandma, I sought out a meal-delivery program in my new community. I went in with the intent of working at a soup kitchen, aiding the less fortunate and needy, but when I saw that my local firehouse was on the list of meal requesters, I stopped.”