Quick Tip: Zola, Balzac, Hugo
I am a history and literature nerd. If you throw in art history it is the ultimate trifecta; art allows you to see the past and literature allows you to live in it through words. I guess it takes a certain type of person to see the beauty in that.
As I have mentioned many times before, I am especially a Paris history nerd. I like to see the things I read about. I collect history books and autobiographies on or about Paris, and am always seeking out things I haven’t read before. So far I only have about 75+ books, but sadly I would probably have even more if I could read French. And yes, I have done a piss poor job of updating the page dedicated to my favorite books on Paris.
To learn Paris’s past doesn’t always mean you have to find it in history books. One great thing about this city being basically stuck in time is that some of the great French writers saw what you still see today. If you’re interested in reading some of these accounts, I would highly recommend you read Zola’s “La Ventre de Paris” (about Les Halles), “Lost Illusions” by Balzac, “Bel-Ami” by Maupassant, “A Moveable Feast” by Hemingway, and yes a cliche Disney film, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Hugo.
I wouldn't necessarily call them "beach reads" but what better time than now?