You may not know this about me, but I absolutely love a lifestyle book. Specifically, I like books in the category of How To Be Amazing. You know the ones I mean. They have a stack of them in the corner of Urban Outfitters.
Yes. I am one of those people.
And yes, How to be Parisian Wherever You Are, the joint effort of Sophie Mas, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Anne Berest is one of those books.
It’s the best. I got it for Christmas because my mother knows me very well.
This is the sort of book you keep by your desk for a quick pick-me-up during work. It’s the one you lounge around with on a Sunday afternoon or flip through on a Friday night while planning your weekend micro-adventure.
There is a lot of ridiculous to be found within it. One of the sections is called The ABC’s of Cheating (very informative), another teaches us about the Simones (Veil, De Beauvoir, Signoret) and another still on the correct lighting of a home, room to room.
My favourite part is called Off the Radar.
You have no real reason to be there: you’re not meeting anyone and no one is waiting for you elsewhere. You will stay as long as you like, and leave only when you’re ready. On a whim you can decide what to do and how to do it: there is something a bit dangerous and yet delicious about freedom.
It is, as the quote suggests, about the strange appeal of time spent alone. I like to have adventures by myself. I’m big on aimless wandering, too. There is something wonderful about self-determination.
There are many pages that suggest slowing down and taking the time to reflect and appreciate your surroundings. To immerse yourself in your culture rather than stepping on the surface of it, never looking down.
How to be a Parisian simultaneously takes on the inherent game of life while allowing – even urging – the reader to hold close their sense of self and authenticity.
It says take a long bath or get lost walking through the city, then go home and have flowers sent to yourself so the guy you like thinks he has competition.
It says don’t bother with make-up at the office, but wear red lipstick to the bakery, just cause you feel like it.
It says forget your anxieties for a while, and read.