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Paris to the Moon

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  12,513 Ratings  ·  1,014 Reviews
With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century.

Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner--in short, an exquisite romanticism that h
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2000)
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Aug 24, 2007 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
Rebecca Foster
Sep 03, 2013 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
Tanya D
Sep 27, 2010 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
Aug 13, 2012 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
May 30, 2008 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
Otis Chandler
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Otis by: Elizabeth
A fun book that gives you a sense of living in Paris as an expat and what to appreciate about French culture. Narrated by the author so definitely recommend listening. Great read while on vacation in France. I loved many of the annecdotes were hilarious - eg the one about how the gym had no plan for visiting every day they only had a once a week plan. Or the one comparing the French fax error codes to French culture.
May 23, 2007 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
Cayt O'Neal
Aug 15, 2007 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
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
May 30, 2011 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
Cristin Curry
Aug 08, 2007 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
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 series of (fairly disjointed) essays, but knits together nicely later when he spends more time on his family and personal experiences in Paris.
Feb 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
There's some valuable stuff in this book, but mostly it's a lot of New-Yorker-house-style pseudo-profundity from a writer who's not particularly aware of his own privilege.
Susan Wands
Sep 19, 2007 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
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
Jun 24, 2010 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.
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
Aug 08, 2010 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
Maggie Campbell
Jan 03, 2008 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
Apr 07, 2010 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
Mar 25, 2015 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
Sep 30, 2015 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
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
Sep 14, 2007 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
May 25, 2008 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
Apr 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
While there were some clever bits in this book (like how the writer tried to go sign up for unlimited access to a gym and the Parisian gym owners did not even know how to respond--they had never heard of anyone wanting to go the gym everyday), the bulk of it felt like jumbled (and not all together interesting) leftovers from his New Yorker submissions. A good read when you just want a chapter at a time. While in chronological order, each chapter could stand alone. I finished it because I felt I ...more
Michelle Christensen
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like it -an expat living in Paris raising his first child but ugh. Esoteric literary snobbery. Long winded. Exhausting. I skimmed a bunch.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I loved this book when I first read it about ten years ago. This time, not only was I murmuring, "Oh, lucky ducks, this family is in Paris," but I was also gushing, "Yes, yes, I went there, too!"
Feb 21, 2012 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
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, france
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
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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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