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Paris to the Moon

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  10,916 Ratings  ·  907 Reviews
Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner--in short, an exquisite romanticism that has captured the American imagination for as long as there have been Americans.

In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamo
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

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Rebecca Foster
Apr 26, 2016 Rebecca Foster rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rebecca by: Ted
(3.5) “When they die, Wilde wrote, all good Americans go to Paris. Some of us have always tried to get there early and beat the crowds.” Gopnik, a Francophile and New Yorker writer, lived in Paris for five years in the late 1990s with his wife and son (and, towards the end of their sojourn, a newborn daughter). Like Julian Barnes’s Something to Declare or Geoff Dyer’s Working the Room, this is a random set of essays arising from the author’s experience and interests. By choosing any subject that ...more
Aug 24, 2007 Kara rated it it was amazing
I have to be honest. I bought this book because I liked the title. Then I got sucked in by the back cover. Who doesn't think the idea of running away w/ your adult family to Paris wouldn't be fantastic?
Gopnik is excellent at revealing the sutle differences between life in the States and France that make up two completely seperate cultures. I felt upon finishing the book that I actually knew the secrets of French thought and behavior. Unfortunately, I now know exactly why I'd never be able to ble
May 30, 2008 Stefanie rated it it was amazing
I can't say enough positive things about this book. Such intricate descriptions of such small things... you can savor it the way the French would want you to. It's a story of a beautiful life in a far away place-- but Gopnick tells it in a way that makes it so accessible (sometimes even ordinary) that he achieves an intimacy that I have not experienced in most books I've read. He also offers a social lens that is stimulating as well as enlightening.

I purposefully took forever reading this book
Tanya D
Sep 27, 2010 Tanya D rated it liked it
This book was fine, but I didn't particularly enjoy it. I was certainly interested in the subject matter: living in paris, the expat life, culture clashes, etc. But the author's style is rather long-winded and unnecessarily dense; some passages reminded me of esoteric literary criticism I used to have to read in college, not particularly suited to light observational journalism. Perhaps I'm too critical as I just finished a Bill Bryson book of travel essays that were thoroughly entertaining and ...more
Cayt O'Neal
Aug 15, 2007 Cayt O'Neal rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
One of my very favorite reads of all time. Adam Gopnik has a lovely way with words, specifically words that detail everyday, real life. I have found very few writers who have such power to keep me enthralled no matter what the subject matter.

I had the privilege of hearing him lecture a few years back here in Chicago, his topic "The American Dream of Paris." His eloquence astounds me. Hearing him speak only made me wish I could read the book over and over again and forget it each time, so that I
May 23, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: americans who have spent or are going to spend any time in Paris
This book is actually a collection of essays from the New Yorker, and they're very insightful. His arguments mostly stem from his own family's experiences and are naturally just small scenes from which he draws grand conclusions. Like most other authors.

However, his awareness of the political scene and the major infighting going on culturally speaks of a very sharp mind. His essays have enough political analysis to show his intelligence, but then will transition into a colorful story about his s
Cristin Curry
Sep 06, 2007 Cristin Curry rated it really liked it
Adam Gopnik's memoirs of his times spent in Paris is a Sex and the City for grown ups. Seen through a male perspective, Gopnik's Frasier-like love of France, the arts, fine food and wine and a hatred for cheesy American pop culture (AKA Barney) allows anyone who's ever dreamed of dropping everything and leaving for a more romantic lifestyle the ability to do so vicariously through his family. What's refreshing about Gopnik's writing is that he realizes he's living a ridiculously privileged life ...more
Oct 18, 2007 Paula rated it liked it
My husband and I decided to be appropriately literary on our last trip to Paris -- he took Hemingway, I took this book because I love travel memoirs. The basic premise is that Gopnik, a writer for the New Yorker, flees to Paris with his family to save his young firstborn from the insidious influence of Barney the dinosaur.

It's well written, more complicated sentence structure than my usual vacation reading but engrossing. It travels an arc beginning with successfully conveying his naivete about
Apr 02, 2013 Carol rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The first reason this book was written, I believe, was so the author could impress all us ignorant English speakers with his knowledge of French. Actually, he should have just written this book in French and not annoyed us English speakers at all. The second reason was to greatly impress us with having the most perfect and nauseatingly adorable son ever and to tell us about every minute detail of that adorable son's day-to-day existence! Then, of course, we could all just slap our own children s ...more
I love, love, love adam gopnik's writing. he can write about tying his shoes and make it sound like the most fascinating subject on earth. this book is about his experience living in paris with his family, a city near and dear to my heart. paris is the perfect subject for his writerly observations. the chapter where he describes his wife's pregnancy and the interactions with the french medical system in contrast to new york (where they had their first child) is fascinating, hilarious and incredi ...more
Jun 16, 2008 Eleanor rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: American Francophiles, Aspiring Essayists
Recommended to Eleanor by: Gael Dauvillier
Yes, I realize this is getting cliche, but I am putting this book in my category of "Americans abroad." Even though I don't connect to the "isn't raising kids just a gosh darn trip" facet of this book, I think Gopnik is a fantastic writer and his observations about living in Paris and being American ring very true. What's also interesting is that because this book concerns the years 1995 to 2000 (that is Pre-Euro as the currency, Pre-Sarkozy) it is very interesting to see how much France has cha ...more
Jan 25, 2013 Evan rated it really liked it
On the cover of Paris to the Moon, Alain de Botton lauds the work as "the finest book on France in recent years," but of course he can't say why in the space of that sentence. Paris to the Moon may be the finest expatriate book of recent years, and it's a worthy update of the American-moves-to-Paris trope of which Hemingway makes up the cornerstone.

Adam Gopnik is a writer's writer, and a thinker's writer. Every inch of this book betrays careful attention to detail, editorial prowess, and the cal
Nov 30, 2014 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Francophiles
I'm re-reading this love letter to Paris, a collection of essays by Adam Gopnik. He writes with such fierce intelligence, and even though some of the "current events" are ten years old, his perspective has a timelessness. Never mind that he's lived my dream- pack it all in and go live and work in Paris.

One of my favorite elements of the book is how strongly the feeling he has for his family permeates his writing. Even an essay on a quest to save a beloved neighborhood bistro is tinged with the w
Susan Wands
Oct 13, 2007 Susan Wands rated it liked it
Shelves: french
What a priviledged crank. His recent column in the New Yorker about eating locally makes me glad that he is aware of the effects of the world around him but he doesn't seem to appreciate so much of what he has. He was involvement in the bistro takeover and the gym were the highlights of the book, with his difference as the American, but really were these the only times he actually did anything in Paris, other than go to the carousel with son and eat out? I want the New Yorker to sponsor me to li ...more
Nov 17, 2013 Thomas rated it it was ok
A very uneven book - some essays are excellent, heartfelt, incisive, clever - others are smug, condescending, boring - the book does not ultimately come together as a unified whole. And, in the end, I just don't entirely trust Gopnik - in some of his other New Yorker essays when he touches on subjects about which I have some in-depth knowledge (such as C.S. Lewis, Christianity etc.), I often find he leaps to unwarranted and seemingly pre-determined conclusions - and so I am skeptical (perhaps un ...more
I finished the book faster than I wanted to b/c I just could not stop reading. I have written alot about this previously so I will just try and summarize why one should read this book and why I give it 5 stars. It is intellectually stimulating. i don't always agree with the author's point of view but there is always something to consider in what he is saying. Secondly it doesn't just describe Paris' external beauty but also its inner beauty. Thirdly it gives a very accurate analysis of the Frenc ...more
Feb 21, 2012 Ted rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people with interests in Paris, or in the differences between American and French society
I really liked reading this book. Gopnik is a wonderful writer, he still writes frequently for The New Yorker, and is always worth reading.

Mostly the chapters could be read at random. There is a progression in them as his son Luke ages from one year old to six (1995-2000), and thus grew from a toddler to a youngster in Paris (there were a few visits back to the States). In some chapters Gopnik's family, especially his son, play major roles (see particularly the delightful chapter The Rookie). In
Maggie Campbell
Jan 17, 2008 Maggie Campbell rated it it was ok
"After all, spinning is its own reward. There wouldn't be carousels if it weren't so."

"And the slightly amused, removed feeling always breaks down as you realize that you don't want to be so lofty and Olympian- or rather, that being lofty and Olympian carries within it, by tradition and precedent, the habit of wishing you could be down there in the plain, taking sides. Even the gods, actually looking down from Olympus in amusement, kept hurtling down to get laid or slug somebody."

"It is just
Mary Beth  Williams
May 11, 2013 Mary Beth Williams rated it really liked it
I learned about this book when my niece Anna gave me a copy with the recommendation of how she loved the book and authors writing style (writes for the New Yorker). I quickly found myself savoring my time reading each of the essays that focus on different aspect of authors 5 years living as a NYC transplant in Paris from 1995 - 2000 with wife and son (daughter added to the family just before return).

Adam Gopnik captures the small details of life so deftly.....example is when he describes their
Apr 24, 2010 Katherine rated it it was ok
My sister lived in Paris for a few months with her husband and four children. She used to tell me stories about their lives there that illuminated for me both the differences between my and Parisian culture and the beauty that she encountered there every day. I expected this book about Adam Gopnik's experiences in Paris to be similar except, well better. I mean this was a collection of carefully thought out articles written by a professional (and well respected) writer not the ecstatic ramblings ...more
Jun 03, 2015 Rodney rated it really liked it
Contrary to some of the other reviews on this site, I found the stories about raising a child to be the most interesting, how mundane experiences create a portrait of a culture. Perhaps because my own life is defined by long hours alone with a toddler, these seemed most relevant to me. The uppercrusty stories were a little more grating; two essays, some 10% of the whole book, are about a group of people so offended by the new management at a classic brasserie that they form a secret society to p ...more
Oct 23, 2015 Shauna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After three weeks of slogging through this book, my first thought upon finishing it was I'm free.

The writing is pretentious and the sentences go on for forever. Sometimes a carousel is just a carousel and there is no need to wax poetically about what it symbolizes for all of mankind.

This book had its moments. Having been in Paris recently, it was nice to read a little more about the city I'd just visited. I liked reading about the author's experience joining a gym, about the restaurant rebellion
Apr 15, 2010 Margaret rated it really liked it
Gopnik spent five years living in Paris with his wife and his small son, writing articles for the New Yorker on life in Paris; this book collects many of those articles along with some of Gopnik's personal journals from that period. I found Paris to the Moon finely written and frequently witty, and I quite liked the mix of personal reminiscence and social and cultural commentary. Though I can see how those expecting a book about Paris might find that there's too much of the former, I thought it ...more
Sara Mortensen
Jul 29, 2012 Sara Mortensen rated it did not like it
There are no words to express how much I tried to like this book, even enough to finish it. The writing is actually quite good, but the story--if I can even call it a story--was dry and tiresome. This book is annoyingly pretentious, and that more than anything else has made it impossible to get through. There are much better stories about France. I began reading "Paris to the Moon" to gain a little insight into the essence of Paris, but this book does not even come close.
Jun 24, 2010 Val rated it did not like it
An utterly boring scope of minute differences between New York and Paris life. A definite sleeper, unless you consider this author's writing to be witty, which I did not.
Oct 29, 2015 Beth rated it liked it
Shelves: france, memoir
This book reads more like a collection of journalistic human interest pieces than like a memoir. Probably because that’s what it is. The author, a long time writer for The New Yorker, is sharing with us his personal essays about the five years that he and his young family spent in Paris. They arrived in 1995, with an infant in tow, and headed back to New York right after the turn of the new millennium.

Most of these vignettes focus not as much on the national scale differences between the US and
Jul 09, 2011 Reid rated it really liked it
I am one of those people (and we are legion) who have an unrequited love affair going with Paris. It's not that Paris disdains or rejects me, of course; Paris has no idea I exist and wouldn't care less if she knew. Sigh.

Adam Gopnik's book is one more love letter from another lover of Paris, and his is an articulate, cultured, experienced voice indeed. He is mostly fluent in French and his love affair has stretched over nearly the whole of his life. This is a book written during and after a five
Jenn Coia
Dec 15, 2014 Jenn Coia rated it liked it
I didn't realize that the book is actually a collection of essays about his time in Paris, as opposed to a more straight memoir style. And because of this style choice, I found I loved some of the essays, merely liked a few, and was bored by a few topics he chose to write about. He's undoubtedly a great writer and at times quite funny. A personal favorite was his essay on the Biblioteque Nationale. I do agree with other reviewers who feel he is a bit too precious about his son, and referring to ...more
Sep 02, 2012 Kerri rated it really liked it
Gopnik nails what we love and loathe about France and the French and proves that sometimes those things are the same. I am jealous of his ability to uproot his family and live in France for five years, with some help from a little journal called The New Yorker. Each chapter is devoted to a different element of life in France. He covers everything from working out at a gym to getting a library book to introducing the French to the concept of take-out. Funny, serious and philosophical, Gopnik stri ...more
Gail Goetschius
Sep 06, 2014 Gail Goetschius rated it really liked it
This collection of essays is lovely. When author and New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik and his wife Martha have their first baby they decide to leave New York and fulfill a dream of living in Paris before Luke reaches school age. Their adventures in the city are both incredibly romantic and practical as they go about setting up life in a foreign city. Taken together they are a wonderful exploration of French culture. Gopnik has a wonderful sense of humor and I particularly enjoyed his attempts to fi ...more
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An American writer, essayist and commentator. He is best known as a staff writer for The New Yorker—to which he has contributed non-fiction, fiction, memoir and criticism—and as the author of the essay collection Paris to the Moon, an account of the half-decade that Gopnik, wife Martha, and son Luke spent in the capital of France.
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