Want to read a French book? Don’t want to spend a fortune if the exchange rate goes bad? Buy a two euro book. All Parisians read a book. Ride the Paris metro and look at what people are holding in their hands: A book.
Over the past couple of years, the Paris metro announcement said, “Beware of pickpockets; be careful with your phone.” The message made enough sense. You could spot the kids doing the pocket picking. One time I needed eyes in back of my head (but that’s another story).
I become engrossed in what I am reading on the phone and slip into another consciousness. Now, I open my two euro book and read contendly. I have joined the other Parisians in the hardcopy written word.
“Boule de Suif” is a book of short stories by Guy de Maupassant* that began my two euro addiction. I skipped looking up the adjectives because I understood the gist of the stories. Each of the stories is about a woman in different settings and social status. They each fall into a trap of cultural constraints of the period around the 1870s. I could not put down the book and took it on vacation. I read it on the way to the airport and finished it at my destination.
FNAC Les Halles carries a large selection of Librio and Folio editions written by French, American and British authors. The books are in French.
But what if you want to know every word of what you are reading? Buy a bi-lingual book. I found a bookshelf full of them just past the “Litterature” department at FNAC Les Halles. Turn left at “Bons Plans/Litterature”, go past the books in foreign languages, and head toward the back of the store. If you reach the animated books, you have gone too far. The bi-lingual books range in price from six to twelve euros.
*If you prefer to read the short stories in English, I found a website that is being updated with the latest translations. “Project Gutenberg Ebook” of Guy de Maupassant’s 180 short stories. Albert M. C. McMaster, B.A., A. E. Henderson, B.A., Madame Quesada and others are the translators. “Boule de Suif” is translated as “Tallow Ball”.