Your Reading Life

Good for Book Clubs

We RIFers are voracious readers and we love to tell a good story. Your Reading Life features personal essays, reader reviews — anything that embraces our literary lifestyle. Pull up a mug of your favorite cozy beverage and join in on the conversation.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Good News for Book and Chocolate Lovers

I have to admit that, next to books, chocolate is one of my favorite things—especially dark chocolate. Ghirardelli knows I’m not alone in that, so they’ve combined the two in their new Savor the Dark Book Club. This 3-month subscription brings Ghirardelli Intense Dark flavors and great summer reads straight to your doorstep, along with surprise bonus content that isn’t for sale anywhere else.

Here are my five favorite things about this awesome combo:

1. You get to try awesome dark chocolate flavors like Hazelnut Heaven and Cherry Tango and Cabernet Matinee—dark chocolate infused with grape and blackberry.

2. June’s book is appropriately titled June! The third novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore is a delicious tale of an unexpected inheritance from a movie star that pulls a young woman into a world of wealth, celebrity and haunting secrets—a read as addictive as cocoa.

3. …

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Healing from Heartbreak Through Chick Lit

When I think of my sister Megan’s and my first Eurotrip together as adults in 2012, I remember laying on a deflated air mattress on the hard, unyielding floor of her dorm at University College of London. Punchy from jet lag-induced insomnia, reading and crying myself to sleep—my reading material a chick-lit novel that made the tears stream down my face as I sought answers to my broken heart in the love lives of imperfect women.

For the first few days after the breakup, each morning had the same routine: Drag myself out of bed, stumble through my suddenly strangely empty two-bedroom apartment, turn the shower to blisteringly hot. Each morning, I began to feel more like myself just in time to shout along to Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” on Spotify.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Falling for a Frenchman in France

To say that I fell in love in Paris feels almost cliché. Paris is known the world over as the most romantic city on the planet, so to fall in love there makes sense…but it also seems rather predictable. But that’s what happened to me in the spring of 2013. I met a man, a Parisian, in a cabaret in Montmartre, and within a matter of weeks I was in love. Everyone around me was shocked; I’m not the type to fall in love so easily or quickly. I guess Paris does that sort of thing to people, even jaded New Yorkers like me.

Olivier—the man who would become my husband—and I met on a Wednesday. It was March 6. I had been in France since mid-January and it had been an unusually cold winter for Paris. In other words, I hadn’t really gone out much. But in early March, a friend came to visit from New York and I was forced to play both host and tour guide. Despite not having slept in almost 24 hours, my friend, who had arrived in Paris that morning, insisted on going out that night. After taking her up to Sacré-Cœur to see the glow of the city below, we headed to Place du Tertre and made our way to one of those very touristy cafés. We just wanted to drink lots of wine and eat lots of cheese, so any place would do at that moment.

We weren’t at the café long when my friend set her sights on a waiter; a waiter whom she proceeded to flirt with in English while he proceeded to flirt with her in French. As the only one out of the three of us who had any sort of grasp on both languages, I was put in charge of translating this flirtation and the absurdity of it all caught the eye of a man a few tables away. That man was Olivier.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

An Ode to Paris’s Shakespeare and Company Bookstore

Travel from Paris’s bustling, bohemian Latin Quarter, pass the baroque fountain at Place St. Michel, then cross over the Seine River to the Île de la Cité. Most onlookers would assume you’re headed to the 671-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral to witness its breathtaking flying buttresses and stained glass rose windows. But if, like me, you’re a literary nerd, you’re likely headed to a different site of religious devotion: the Shakespeare and Company bookstore.

In a glittering city brimming with historic treasures and head-turning architecture, Shakespeare’s is not to be missed, as important a place in literary history as the oft-visited Emily Dickinson museum in Amherst, Massachusetts. The original bookstore was the bookish hub of the 1920s and 30s in Paris, helmed by expat Sylvia Beach, who originally aimed to sell English language books to Americans in Paris. But her store quickly became a lending library and one-stop-shop for eventual Lost Generation legends like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound, who were all frequent visitors that dropped in to find their latest read or to receive an extra eye on their work.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Twice-Told Lists: 13 Books to Get You Stoked About Shakespeare’s Birthday

I know, I know, this is another one of those Shakespeare lists to celebrate his birthday (and his death day), which is estimated to be on April 23rd—it’s like, c’mon, we get it. Shakespeare was the best writer ever. Woo hoo. Who cares? What relevancy can Shakespeare possibly maintain over the course of 400 years?

Well, that’s what I’m here to try to communicate, and to do so I needed to make not one but two lists: one focusing on the richest and most convincing nonfiction books ever written on the Bard, and another highlighting Shakespeare’s profound influence on contemporary fiction. Between the two lists, I think we can understand Shakespeare’s historical legacy and his lasting effect on writers of today.

(NB: neither of these lists even pretends to be authoritative and complete; rather, they represent merely a sampling of myriad books I could have chosen but that necessity forced me to exclude.)

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Six Writers Inspired By Paris—And Drinking

Paris is famous for giving the world many things, from street lights and movie theaters to croissants and chic style. But we can’t forget one of the most important gifts given to us by The City of Lights: The endless, alcohol-fueled inspiration that led rising authors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to stumble and write their way to greatness. Here, we share the hard drinking that inspired some of the literary canon’s hardest writing—including each auteur’s poison of choice, in case you’re in the mood to cuddle up with a book by one of these legends accompanied by a cocktail (or two).

Meet the Author Good for Book Clubs

Authors Share Their Favorite Places to Read (and Write!) in Paris

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!