Bienvenue et Bonne année, mes chers amis,
It's time for our holiday post on the Powell's French Book Blog. I am excited to inspire you with the latest treasures found in aisles 817 and 818 of the Red Room at Powell's City of Books! You just might find that special treasure here for your French-reading student, friend, or petite amie. Allons-y!
Let's start with this gorgeous graphic novel by Michel Onfray called simply Nietzsche. Beautifully-inked drawings bring the biography of the legendary philosopher to life and present the author's interpretation of Nietzsche's views in a très beau façon. Sure to please the comic/philosophy lover on your list!
Next I want to show you a wonderful book by one of my favorite authors, Edmund White. Mes Vies (My Lives) is a fascinating autobiography by one the world's most interesting people. Edmund White has an amazing memory for rich detail and hilarious anecdotes from throughout his life, with chapter titles like "Mes Psys" (My Shrinks), "Mes Femmes" (My Wives), and "Mon Genet" (My Genet). The book is sometimes uncomfortably honest but always intelligent and funny and once again reveals White to be one of the best American writers.
Now take a look at this stunning, boxed book called Petits et Grands Seigneurs de Brousse (Small and Large Lords of the Bush) by Robert P. Pfleiger. This is a large book, published in 1939, about the author's journey across Africa. It is number 43 of a limited edition of 510. The lovely soft paper has slight foxing, but is still in good shape and illustrated with photos and gorgeous black and white original engravings by Paul de Masy. Signed by the author, this account is a work of art in itself.
Back in the history section I fell in love with these three little blue and red books called La Guerre De 70 (The War of 1870). Written by Bernard Michal, they break down the 1870 Franco-Prussian war into 3 volumes. Volume 1 is "La Capitulation," Volume 2 is "De Sedan a la Commune," and Volume 3 is "La Commune." These jaunty little books were published in 1970 by Editions de Cremille and each has a festive little red bookmark ribbon to mark your page. A lovely addition to your history-lover's bookshelf!
Now for the greatest cover currently in the aisle… Pédicures de l'Ame (Pedicures of the Soul) by Pierre Dac. This is a humorous philosophy book about cleanliness, both of the feet and the soul. Dac believes that if one grooms the feet, then why not do the same for the soul? Indeed, why not? I just hope the soul turns out better looking than this foot. C'est vraiment incroyable!
Next up, in honor of the latest Harry Potter movie released last week, Harry Potter et les Réliques de la Mort" (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) by J. K. Rowling. The last installment of the series, this is a dark and thrilling finale. However, along the way we learn more wonderful wizarding vocabulary in French, adding a whole other dimension to the enjoyment of the book. Some examples: le vif (the snitch), polynectar (polyjuice potion), elf de maison (house elf), and of course Celui-On-Ne-Doit-Pas-Prononcer-Le-Nom (He Who Must Not Be Named). A thrilling and educational read!
Another magical children's story that is sure to delight is this one called Le Cheval Magique De Han Gan by Chen Giang Hong. This is a tale of an artist who can paint horses that leap from the canvas and take on lives of their own. Beautifully painted illustrations tell a bittersweet tale of loyalty and the transformative nature of art.
Now, if you are lucky enough to be off to France any time soon, you might find some helpful phrases in this wonderful 1950 book called Brush Up Your French Again by Dr. W. G. Hartog. This is an adorable bilingual story about Monsieur et Madame Dupont who decide to cross the channel from England and go to Paris for the weekend.
Lovely illustrations illuminate their experiences, including L'Heure de l'Aperatif (Cocktail Time), Au Bureau de Tabac (At the tobacconist's), and always helpful, Chez le Chemisier (At the hosier's). Lovely little illustrations of the Dupont's weekend getaway make the journey extra fun. A great little gift for the traveler on your list!
We just got a few copies of this new edition of the beloved fantasy book Bilbo le Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Once again you will learn wonderful vocabulary (treize nains barbus: 13 bearded dwarves; la Montaigne Solitaire: The Lonely Mountain) as you follow Bilbo on his epic quest. It all begins with this seemingly innocuous, innocent sentence, "Dans un trou vivait un hobbit…"
Another book of fantasy and a true find is this beautiful book by Moebius, Chroniques Métalliques. This is a collection of poster art, advertisements, and comics, including new work by one of the best comic artists of his generation. Published by Les Humanöides Associés, this graphic novel would make a wonderful gift.
Finally here is a gift for the knitter you know and love, Album Suisse de Tricot et de Crochet. This great knitting pamphlet from the 1960s is filled with super-mod photos of ladies sporting knits of all kinds. Turtlenecks, tights, and heavy eyeliner are la mode du jour and you can't help but be inspired by the outré color palette! A great stocking-stuffer, especially if accompanied by knitting accessories!
C'est tout pour cette année. I am so happy to bring you a glimpse into the wonderful French aisle here at Powell's City of Books. As always I invite you to come down and explore the foreign language section to see what other treasures you can unearth.
Joyeux vacances, et a bientôt!