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Paris to the Moon

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  8,831 ratings  ·  779 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...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2000)
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Kara
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...more
Stefanie
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...more
Kelly
May 23, 2007 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Tanya D
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
Cristin Curry
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
Paula
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...more
Eleanor
Jun 16, 2008 Eleanor rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Cayt O'Neal
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...more
Andrea
Sep 14, 2007 Andrea rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
Jessica
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
Susan Wands
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
Katherine
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
Chrissie
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
Ted
Feb 21, 2012 Ted rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Carol
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
Mary Beth  Williams
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...more
Heather
On a re-reading streak, and after having just finished Gopnik's other essay collection, thought I'd take myself on a vacation of the nostalgic imagination. Serendipity strikes me again: upon opening the book the other evening, I found my boarding pass to the flight that officially relocated me to Paris. If that was not enough, it just so happened that this slipped out from between the pages exactly eight years to the DAY- February 26- that I took the trip that changed my life forever.

Does this s...more
Margaret
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
Gail Goetschius
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
Allika
I really enjoyed this collection of meditations and feel I've been altered by them, which is why I gave it such a high rating. Gopnik is a reliable observer and is able to tease out the underlying logic which condition cultural patterns (American and French) as well as a French structuralist. His writings made me think, in the way that I have to put the book down at times. His chapter on Paris gyms was especially entertaining.

While in Paris, he does live the life I would be unlikely to have, so...more
Evan
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...more
Reid
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...more
Kerri
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
Beth
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...more
Maggie Campbell
"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 ...more
Barbara
I love the way Gopnik contrasts French culture and civilization: small shops and large monuments, intimacy and officiousness, even the cover shows a small boy (Luke?) against the backdrop of the immense Luxemburg Palace.

Gopnik states this theme early: “What truly makes Paris beautiful is the intermingling of the monumental and the personal, the abstract and the footsore particular, it and you. A city of vast and impersonal set piece architecture, it is also a city of small and intricate, improv...more
Molly
Enjoyed this more and more as it went on. I've always like Gopnik, but early in this book, he seems overly fixated on sounding clever, which is unnecessary—he's naturally clever. As the book progresses, his tone is more relaxed and funny. Also, it begins as a serious of (fairly disjointed) essays, but knits together nicely later when he spends more time on his family and personal experiences in Paris.
Erin
This is an excellent, intelligent and emotional book that really sets a new bar for this kind of travel nonfiction. The author, an American writer, relates stories from the five years that he lived in Paris with his wife and young son. While Gopnick's musings on French mannerisms and cuisine are interesting, I particular enjoyed the stories about his young son Luke growing up very French and how that's occasionally difficult for his doting father. The events in Luke's early life, the puppet show...more
Catherine Byers


I laughed out loud as Gopnik vainly attempted to locate a NY style fitness club in Paris and when he could not figure out how to make French Christmas tree lights work like their American counterparts. (Spoiler alert: someone explains the lights to him in the end.) These essays illuminate the joys and frustrations of living in Paris after years of being a New Yorker. The quixotic attempt to save a favorite brasserie with a group of its patrons could only happen in Paris - I cannot imagine the s...more
Thomas
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
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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.
More about Adam Gopnik...
Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York The King in the Window The Table Comes First: Family, France and the Meaning of Food Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life The Best American Essays 2008

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