Paris and London in Writing, Song, and on screen

Grateful Graduate Project 2013: Reasons 286-305 to be thankful


Now that 2013 is over, it is possible to reap the benefits of hindsight and  finish off the list of 365 things that contribute to making Paris and London great places to live, work, and study.

Paris and London have inspired books, art, cinema, and other intellectual material that constantly renew one’s thinking and approach to these cities.

In 2013, the following works renewed this blogger’s appreciation of these two cities. I am grateful to have come across these, or to have revisited them, in 2013:

  1. Hugo’s Les Miserables  (got to read this in French for the first time this year. Looking forward to seeing the movie from 2012 this year. Two years after the fact but nonetheless…)
  2. Manon, the opera, set  in Paris with St Sulpice making a cameo appearance and its reflections on religion and the human impulse toward love..
  3. La Traviata and its representation of Paris in contrast to French countryside
  4. La Boheme  and its treatment of  carefree youth in Paris and the difference between this reading of Paris and those of La Traviata and Manon (Someone needs to do an academic journal about this)
  5.  Elina Garanca’s album ‘Romantique’ as a perfect companion for trips away from beloved Paris It kept Paris alive in the midst of Westminster
  6. The London Encyclopaedia  3rd Edition (ed by Ben Weinreb et al.. )as a perfect go-to reference work on all things London
  7. Zadie Smith’s  NW,  a great book to taste a bit of non-tourist London
  8. Cedric Klapisch’s 2008 movie ‘Paris’ as a constant inspiration to live more fully and experience Paris moreImage
  9. Roy Porter’s book ‘London: A Social History’ as a fascinating introduction to the socioeconomic dynamics of London
  10. The 1999 academic journal article “Songs and Society in early Tudor London” in Early History (16) that gives a layered view of London and its past
  11. David  Harvey’s ‘Paris, Capital of Modernity’ as a good primer on the historic tensions that still shape day to day life in Paris
  12. Pierre Bourdieu’s  book ‘Distinction’ – a slightly dated  insight into how Paris works as a place where social class and taste are everything
  13. The LSE’s online archive on Charles Booth’s groundbreaking working on poverty in London (
  14. as a source of digitised old maps  of he city. It changes how one relates to the city and walks through it.
  15. and its insights into literary  Paris at different points of the city’s history.  A great way to appreciate the city as a muse.
  16. Julie and Julia  (2009)  –  Watched the movie for the first time in 2013, an interesting insight into different ways of interpreting Paris, and  a reminder that Paris is what you make of it…
  17. Adam Gopnik’s ‘ Paris to the Moon’ (2000)  – an interesting set of essays by this New Yorker columnist that gives voice to the joys and frustrations of  living in Paris as an outsider.
  18. Sarah Lyall’s article in the NY Times in October 2013 brought the experience of living in  London versus being a tourist into perspective. Click here to read
  19. Simon Kuyper’s  August 2013 Financial Times article hit   close to home as he reflected on the benefits of working in London and living in Paris. Click here 
  20. Grand Designs, the TV show, and its insights into home making in London and the UK, as inspiration for future possibilities.

 I am grateful for each of these works. These are 20 things that were  a part of my 2013 experience of these two cities that reshaped my understanding of being between the Seine and the Thames.