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How to Behave in a Crowd

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,280 ratings  ·  394 reviews
Isidore Mazal is eleven years old, the youngest of six siblings living in a small French town. He doesn't quite fit in. Berenice, Aurore, and Leonard are on track to have doctorates by age twenty-four. Jeremie performs with a symphony, and Simone, older than Isidore by eighteen months, expects a great career as a novelist. She's already put Isidore to work on her biography ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 21st 2018 by Tim Duggan Books (first published August 1st 2017)
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Tracey Ayres No. I think it is very much an adult book. A very good adult book in fact. I loved it.
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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I thought this book was wonderful! It has mixed reviews but I don't really care about that, I only care about what I think.

The first couple of paragraphs from the book had me choosing this one as my next blog book.


There was a darker brown stain on our brown suede couch. If I swept it one way with the palm of my hand, it almost blended in. I could squint and forget it was even there, but then a swipe in the other direction, and the stain reappeared, darker than I remembered, like I'd
Angela M
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is described as a dark comedy and while there are some funny moments, I found it more sad than comical. The Mazal family is a quirky family like none I've ever known. I have to admit at first I didn't like any of the six children in the family except Isidore (Dory), the youngest and our narrator. I wasn't sure I wanted to continue , but I was so taken with this 11 year old boy who takes us through the next few years of the lives of this odd family who live in a small French town. An odd bun ...more
Larry H
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Have you ever gone to see a movie or a comedian that everyone says is really funny, but you sit there and wonder when it will get funny?

I think I have a good sense of humor; those who know me know that I'm really very sarcastic (I often say that sarcasm is my superpower) and I love a good joke, yet for some weird reason movies and books that are supposed to be hysterically or even darkly funny often miss their target with me. In fact, when I see books lauded as funny, I often steer clear of them
Hmmmmm.....Took me awhile to get into the character-driven....matter-of-fact writing style of this novel. It's so different....with little to no plot, and (for me) leaned toward more of a character study.

Anyway....The Mazel family are all highly intelligent....but rather cold....distant....loners for the most part who spend much of their time indoors studying. Even when tragedy strikes, the announcement is monotone....and the immediate reaction (by family members) a non-event, but there is grief

Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
Short pitch to see if you'd like How to Behave in a Crowd: meet the Mazals, kind of like the French version of "The Royal Tenenbaums", a family comprised of a somewhat absent father and solid, grounded mother to a cadre of snarky, sharp, smart, somewhat asocial savant children. We're exposed to the Mazals through our narrator, Izidore but more commonly known as Dory, youngest son of this unique tribe, less intelligent and accomplished than his older siblings but also deeply emotional, empathetic ...more
This book was addictive. I wasn't sure where it was going, but I just didn't want to stop reading. The story is told through the eyes of Isidore, the youngest of the six Mazal children and seemingly the least remarkable, academically speaking anyway, as all of his siblings are already working on advanced degrees when most people their age are finishing high school. They are on a whole other plane on thinking from the 11-year old... and from pretty much everyone except one another.

It doesn't tak
Roger Brunyate
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bildungsroman
The Normal One

Isidore Mazal (generally called Dory although he prefers Izzie) is the youngest child in a French family of six. His three eldest siblings all complete PhD's in the course of the novel: Berenice is an historian, Aurore a classicist, Leonard a sociologist. Jeremie, still in college, is a musician. Simone, the only one close to his age (in his early teens), fanatically studies literature. And Izzie? Though clearly bright—his narrative voice is consistently engaging—he is no academic
Lolly K Dandeneau
via my blog:
“Because what goes on in your head when you step out of the present is always richer and more satisfying than what you come back to when you’re done. That’s the sad part. That’s what’s at the core of melancholy, not the things you actually imagine. The present is disappointing in a way you can’t act upon while it’s happening. But once you’ve made a memory of something, you can throw away the meaningless parts and write better versions of it.”

mindful.librarian ☀️
Quirky, French, intellectual and like no other story I have read in recent memory.

Thanks to Crown Publishing for providing me with a free finished copy of this book for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

NOTE: I'm not providing a summary - Goodreads did a great job of that!

You know how sometimes you just fall into a book and mark almost every single page and feel like this book was written FOR you? That's how I felt with this one. I had zero expectations going into it and was pleasant
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what to think of this book. It started out so strong, and I immediately loved it so much, and then it was as if a switch had went off: my fondness for it just completely evaporated. It felt like what had initially been a great book in the making had, at a certain point, taken a wrong turn and left its strengths far behind.

What initially struck me about this book—and what instantly drew me to it—was Bordas's ability to write observations. Keen, distinctive character observations can
Book Riot Community
A moving story about a tragedy in a family and the young boy who thinks he can heal them. Isidore is the youngest of six successful siblings. Living in their shadows, he hasn’t received a lot of credit for also being his own person with his own skills and interests. But when a tragedy happens, Isidore feels he has the unique skills to help his family get through it – that’s if he decides he wants to help. It’s a lovely story about a boy learning that the adults don’t always know what is best, ei ...more
St. Gerard Expectant Mothers
I picked up a galley copy of this at work and thought the premise was very interesting. How to Behave in a Crowd is a mixture of a quirky dark comedy combined with the dramatic elements of a dysfunction family story. Basically it is Augusten Burroughs' memoir Running with Scissors thrown with the film The Royal Tenenbaums.

In this novel, we meet the French family The Mazals, a six sibling unit with a neurotic mother and a distant father who range in age from adult graduate students to the younges
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Read FRANNY & ZOOEY instead.
Shelves: lit
What Salinger said. For real.
Tonstant Weader
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Isidore Mazal is the youngest of six children. He’s eleven and unlike his five older siblings, he is not going to be skipping four or five years of high school or getting his doctorate before he’s twenty-four. He is a moth in a family of intellectual butterflies.In a family that is all about intelligence, Izzy feels maladept. His siblings are even better at watching television than he, predicting the endings and analyzing them through the framework of Aristotle’s Poetics.

He does not have a plan
Rachel León
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017, 2017
(4 stars, rounded up because the ending is perfect and English isn't the author's first language so deserves props there, too.)

I really enjoyed this novel and am excited to get the chance to interview the author. This novel is smart, funny, sad, and tender. There's not a lot to the plot, but the characters are great and everything is pulled together in a really admirable way. I found it brilliant.

Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"'Fear of death is the only thing that doesn't abandon you as you age,' Daphne insisted, humidifying her lips with her tongue every five seconds or so. 'On the contrary, I would say. Death gets scarier every day. I'm so much more diminished now than even last year...this physical's all a preview, you know? And the movie doesn't look good!"

My Q&A with Bordas for the Chicago Tribune:

Camille Bordas' first two novels, "Les treize desserts" an
Let's make one thing clear: How to Behave in a Crowd contains no JD Salinger quirks or sparks of witty commentary.

It doesn't even quite fall in the dark comedy/dramedy category.

It's kind of sad, depressing, almost meaningless in that way when you see terrible things happening to young people on the news and once the newscast is over, you forget about them.

Isidore Mazal is the youngest child and the most observant, understated person out of his five older, very studious, very brilliant sibl
Claire is looking for Bloodlines series ARCs
This book sounded pretentious. And I know one of the characters in this book (Simone) would hate me saying this because I'm not using the word, pretentious, correctly. What I meant is that this book is kind of "showy." The author's diction/writing is as beautiful as the cover of the book. However, at some point in your reading, you ask yourself how an 11 year old boy's voice would sound so eloquent, and how he could also ask the right questions in the perfect moment. The questions a child a
Edwin Howard
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HOW TO BEHAVE IN A CROWD by Camille Bordas is a first person narrative told by Isidore Mazal, an eleven year old boy surrounded his overachieving older siblings, who is constantly misunderstood by those around him, yet really he is making the most sense of anyone.
The author took special care to create and describe the characters in HOW TO BEHAVE IN A CROWD and one of the joys of the book is finding out that there is more to every character than appears on the surface. Isidore sibling's are port
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
Thank you NETGALLEY!! This is a book about a family; told through the perspective of a young teenage boy named Isodor who has like 4 or 5 older siblings and really it's just his account of his life and how he sees his older sisters and brothers. They're all pretty smart. They live in France and the parents are not really in the story but it's important when the father dies (literally he's called The Father) and how their life changes in the 2 years after.
There's no plot, really. It's just the w
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Subtly gets at you. Extremely intelligent. Macabre humor. 10/10. Would recommend.
Andy Weston
This is an extremely enjoyable and humorous novel set in rural France about childhood and adolescence, and more specifically a family dealing with grief.

Isidore, who narrates, is just short of his 12th birthday when the novel begins. His two brothers and two sisters are older. Bordas’s writing is at a strength when writing about the children, there are so many perfectly decent coming of age stories that don’t manage to deal with adolescence in such a convincing way.

There is a refreshing honest
This was an odd little book but not in a bad way. The Mazal family is very blunt in the way they speak to each other and to other people. I found it refreshing. The book is the POV of Isidore or Dory and how he interacts with everyone. I'm still not sure I get the title but that's okay. Isidore is 12-14 in the book. It's slow paced and not really a specific plot, just going along in his life. It was kind of refreshing. There were times I laughed out loud.

How To Behave In A Crowd reads like an intellectualist's guide to growing up. Written from the point of view of the youngest child, the Mazal family is seen through the eyes of Isidore (Izzie), the least brilliant of his siblings, aged 11 at the start of the story. Over four years we follow the Mazal family's growth, or lack thereof, following the death of "the father", a man who is seen very little by the reader and his wife and family due to his continuous travel schedule.
Bordas explores the
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC of this book in a Giveaway.

"How to Behave in a Crowd" spoke to me on a spiritual level. Although I'm the oldest and I don't have a ton of siblings, I still found myself identifying with Izzie's journey to understand who he is and where he fits in his crowds. Bordas uses Izzie's story to touch on philosophical ideas like what it means to live a fulfilled life and different aspects of the process of death and grief. I don't think it's written with the typical American sense of hu
Mary Lins
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
"How to Behave in a Crowd", by Camille Bordas, thoroughly delighted me. From the first page I fell in love with our first-person narrator, Isidore (called Dory but would prefer Izzie) Mazal, eleven and a half years old, the youngest of 6 very unusual and highly intelligent children. It wasn't long before I likewise fell in love with his highly-intelligent and uniquely-quirky siblings; Berenice, Aurore, Jeremie, Leonard, and Simone. (They are French, hence the names; the novel is in English but t ...more
Katie B
Isidore Mazal lives in a small French town with his parents and six siblings. He is nowhere near as smart as his older siblings who have skipped grades and are working towards doctorates. He doesn't fit in at school where he is outcast. When tragedy strikes the Mazal family, each member reacts in a different way. Isidore just might be the right person to teach his family members how to cope with grief and loss.

This book takes place over the course of a few years and is filled with amusing and to
Dakota Sillyman
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books of the year and probably my favorite by a local Chicago author.

It is easy to make comparisons between this novel and the works of J.D. Salinger. Like Salinger, Bordas writes about the links between intelligence, depression, and family. Both authors have a brilliant mastery of the English language (despite French being Bordas' native tongue.)

However, in my opinion the differences between Bordas and Salinger are just as interesting as the similarities. 'How to Behave in a Cr
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There’s something really beautiful & sad about the fact that even though I read this book closely, I still tried to connect the dots on its cover.

The meta-question at its center is one that’s been on my mind, given how apathetic I’ve felt toward many of my recent reads (despite their literary merit): “Isn’t there a way to have it all?... To be, at the same time, intellectually & emotionally involved?”

In other words: can’t I have well-drawn characters, language as craft, *&* stimulating ideas? I
Danielle Mootz
Isidore is watching and observing everyone else's life and at some point after his father's death decides to start living his life, even if he hadn't noticed yet. in a family full of genius it's not easy to be "normal" but Dory manages to ground everyone around him with the simplicity in life. ...more
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Camille Bordas est née à Lyon, en 1987. Elle a passé son enfance au Mexique et vit maintenant à Paris. Elle est étudiante en anthropologie.
En 2009, elle a été remarquée par la critique avec la parution de son premier roman, Les treize desserts, pour lequel elle a reçu la Bourse Thyde Monnier de la SGDL et le Prix du Livre du département du Rhône.

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“So the problem with any dictatorship,” I said, following Simone’s argument, “is never really the dictator himself but the people who agree with him.” “Exactly,” Simone said. “There could potentially be a good dictatorship—I don’t see why the public could only be sheep for horrible leaders—but the problem is that good people never want to be dictators.” “That’s a bummer,” I said.” 6 likes
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