Master your Minecraft

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Tour our stores


Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Le Blog Français Numéro Quatre

Un grand bonjour and welcome back to the Powell's City of Books French blog, Numéro Quatre. Today I have une très belle collection of wonderful French books to share with you, from many different subsections of the French aisle, located in aisles 817 and 818 of Powell's City of Books! Allons-y!

Let's begin with this amazing leather-bound three-volume set by Antoine Hamilton. Oeuvres is a collection of Hamilton's works published by Augustin Renouad. The volumes are a bit worn, but still beautiful in their leather covers and filled with the old parchment-like papers. Lovely!

Next I'd like to feature a new book called Trois Femmes Puissantes (The Three Powerful Women) by Marie NDiaye. This book won the 2010 Prix Goncourt, and NDiaye is the first black woman to have done so. Bravo!

I'd also like to show you this selection of books by Georges Bernanos: L'Imposteur, Journal D'un Cure de Campagne, Un Crime, et Sous le Soleil De Satan.

Bernanos was critical of modern society and of government's role in censuring the privacy of the individual. His book Sous le Soleil de Satan was made into a starkly fierce movie starring, who else, Gerard Depardieu.

From our miscellaneous nonfiction section I want to show you is this wonderful hardbound book called L'Écriture, published in 1961 by Robert Delpire. It is a history of the written word and has black and white photographs of alphabets through the ages. You'll find illuminated manuscripts and hieroglyphics, ancient Arabic script and modern fonts. Très interessant!

Next you must see this very old and beautiful book called Le Telephone, published in 1882. One of the Bibliothèque des Merveilles series by Hachette et Cie, this is an illustrated history of the telephone — up until 1882, that is. A short history, to be sure! A bit worn, but still lovely with its blue cloth boards and embossed gold embellishments. A treasure from time gone by.

Next from the literature section, I would like to share this absolutement adorable edition of Stendhal's Chartreuse de Parme. The Collection Nelson is a series that always seem to have beautifully illustrated covers and this is no exception. This copy's dust jacket is a bit beaten, but is well-protected by Mylar. Très mignon!

Now let's move on to the mystery section. I absolutely love the cover of this thriller Saint Crapule, or Holy Bastard, by Exbrayat — the perfect place to hide your gun... in your sandwich! Un pistolet dans la baguette, quelle horreur!

Next up we have this wonderful paperback called L'Écran Fantastique (or The Fantasy Screen) by Christian Poninski. This is a 1979 collection of science fiction movies, including an analysis of the Roger Moore Bond film Moonraker. Lots of great photos, including many shots of the wacky creatures from Sinbad. A great gift for the science fiction fan!

Now here is a real curiosity. L'Essentielle sur les Pacemakers (The Essentials of Pacemakers) by G. Fontaine. Published in 1985, this paperback book describes the uses and science behind this modern health technology.

There are some full-page drawings of people getting defibrillated, don't miss out! It would also make a great gift for a medical or nursing student. À la santé!

Another surprising find is this cookbook called Une Soupe aux Herbes Sauvages (Soup of Wild Herbs). A slim paperback that gives recipes for country soups by Emilie Carles, pictured. Somehow, I trust her to know her soups aux herbes sauvages. Delicieux!

Switching gears, I'm going to show you one of my favorite books in the aisle. Merde! is a classic grammar/expression usage book by Geneviève. In this book, along with the completely vulgar argot of the street you can find many colorful and useful expressions such as le gros rouge qui tache et qui pousse au crime, which means "the ordinary red wine that stains and incites crime." Or, you might say Je secoue les puces de quelqu'un, which means "I shook someone's fleas," which is to say, you gave them a piece of your mind. If you had some pocket change you might refer to it as la feraille; literally, scrap iron. Use these terms correctly and impress a Frenchman. Use them incorrectly and you might get in trouble.

Now for the sweeter side of the aisle. I found this children's book called Le Chameau Abos by Raymond Rener. It is the story of a sweet camel that tells stories and has an adventure. Lovely simple illustrations give this book just the right feel and will delight you and your petits enfants.

One more of my favorites is the classic James et la Grosse Pêche, or James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl. Poor little James is tyrannized by Tante Éponge (Aunt Sponge) et Tante Piquette (Aunt Spiker). Lucky for him he meets up with the friendly giant bugs Mademoiselle L'Araignée (Miss Spider), La Coccinelle (Ladybug), Le Milles-Pattes (Centipede), and Le Ver de Terre (Earthworm). James and his friends have a rollicking adventure that you will love to read again and again. Especially in French!

Finally, I would love to share an example of the great graphic novels we get in our aisle. Arzach is by the venerated Moebius, born Jean Giraud. Moebius has illustrated many books and won many awards, including the Grand Prix de la Science Fiction Française in 1980. He has many styles, but this one shows one of his most popular, a very dream-like technique with pale colors and dramatic line drawings. His books fly off of our shelves, so make sure to get yours!

Regrettably, we have come to the end of another post; it is bittersweet as there are so many other wonderful finds I would like to share. Please do come down to Powell's City of Books, deuxieme étage, and browse through aisles 817 and 818 in the Red Room. I am certain you will find many surprises and a few must-haves.

Until the next time, à la prochaine!

÷ ÷ ÷

Diane Rios is an Oregon native with a love of the French and their culture. She plays music in Portland and is currently writing and illustrating a children's book called Dizzy's Dream. She has an 11-year-old daughter, a husband, two cranky old cats, and a sweet black lab. La vie en rose!

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Trois Femmes Puissantes Used Trade Paper $21.00

  2. Merde! Used Trade Paper $3.50

Post a comment:

Get Your Gravatar

  1. Please note:
  2. All comments require moderation by staff.
  3. Comments submitted on weekends might take until Monday to appear.
PowellsBooks.Blog uses Gravatar to allow you to personalize the icon that appears beside your name when you post. If you don't have one already, get your Gravatar today!
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at