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by Mark Heberden, Kristen Hinman, Bob Roberts

The Dordogne & the Lot by Jan Dodd/Britaany & Normandy by Greg Ward published by Rough Guides
September — sans toursites — can be the best month to visit France’s countryside. Both of these new guides are ideal for preparing long weekends or extended visits. With detailed accounts of historic sites, up-to-the minute reviews of the best places to eat and information on activities as diverse as wine tasting in the Bordeaux vineyards and visiting the megaliths of Carnac, you won’t want to leave home without them. BR

“Passion Fruit” by Daniel Pennac — translated from the French by Ian Monk (The Harvill Press, London)
Benjamin Malaussène is a professional scapegoat, a martyr to the forces of cosmic chaos, social injustice and the diabolically fine-tuned craziness of his complicated family. In Passion Fruit, Daniel Pennac’s fifth novel featuring the hapless Malaussène, our hero is faced with the imminent possibility of being accused of the murder of a high-placed government official who enjoyed powerful family and social connections, who had married Malaussène's sister, who deserted him the day after the wedding and was then reported blown up along with her Tarot reader’s caravan... In Pennac’s light novels, from the very first page readers are delivered a full plate of wry human observation and tragi-comic humor, enhanced by a refreshingly original and surprising story line. MH

Terrasses, un art de vivre en plein ciel by Alexandra d’Arnoux & Bruno de Laubadère — photos by Deidi von Schaewen, published by Flammarion
Even if you don’t read French, this coffee table book will get you out of the salon and into the sun, ready to re-do your terrace. The lucky writers lingered on some of Paris’ prettiest balconies (belonging to well-known folk like Jean-Pierre Raynaud and Christian Duc), and sublime photos make your view just as privileged. There are flowered patios as well as all kinds of terraces — some tamed into living and dining rooms, others resembling jungles and others still with sky-sweeping views, jacuzzis, pools, bamboo... One elaborate example has chimneys dressed in mirrors. KH

“Paris Between Empires 1814-1852” by Philip Mansel (John Murray, London)
Napoleon Bonaparte is hauled off to St. Helens in 1814. and his grandiose, card-house empire collapses. In 1852 Napoleon III is proclaimed ruler of a new, less imposing French empire. Between those two dates are some of the most turbulent and politically-confusing years in French history. Yet these were also the years that Paris became a magnet for intellectual and artistic brilliance, setting the stage for its emergence as the cosmopolitan capital of Europe and, later, the world. For a historian, it’s a serious challenge to portray the intellectual and political density of this period accurately, and remain readable. In Paris Between Empires, Philip Mansel succeeds in providing a clear understanding of relationships and events. Through accounts of the daily lives of Parisians belonging to all levels of society, readers find themselves both understanding and living through, the epoch that made Paris what it is today. MH

“Acheter de l’art à Paris” by Catherine Bedel (Parigramme, Paris)
This succinct mini guide book helps neophytes evaluate art and understand how galleries operate. It tells first-time buyers how to acquire artworks via auction houses, flea markets, ateliers and vernissages, or even off the Internet. With its sound, objective and realistic advice about artists, dealers and prices, Acheter de l'art à Paris is an excellent guide to help avoid some of the pitfalls of investing in art. MH

Chocolat, l’envers du décor/Chocolate Behind the Scenes by Philippe Bertrand & Philippe Marand — trans. by Amy Lodge, published by Les Editions de l’IF
This beautiful bilingual book, written by two pastry chefs, provides a look at the magicalworld of chocolate decoration with tips on how the French pros create their lavish creations. The book explores an ensemble of techiniques demonstrating how to create spectacular chocolate decorations. Close-up photographs illuminate nearly every painstaking step of the elaborate procedures. KH

The Riches of Paris, a shopping and touring guide by Maribeth Clemente, published by St. Martin’s Griffin
Any die-hard fashionista embarking on a first or second visit to Paris will find this shopping guide useful. Classified quartier by quartier, it strikes a primer’s pose by clueing in the clueless on must-have Parisian accoutrements Apart from a superfluous section on packing tips, the book contains helpful information about tax refunds, customs allowances, shipping companies and store hours. KH

The Global Soul by Pico Iyer, Bloomsbury
Reflections on a world gone mobile. This is an informed and often poetic look at the contemporary, displaced world of air-conditioned gypsies and cosmopolitian nomads. Iyer shares his quest for “a home” coming up with some surprising answers that many Paris expatriates will understand. BR

The No-Nonsense Guide to Globalization by Wayne Ekwood, Verso
This is a straightforward dive into the issues surrounding the new global economy and its social repercussions. Reviewing the ideas of Keynes & Smith and explaining such globalization biggies as the IMF and WTO, the book fills in some of the gaps behind today’s Financial Times and Wall Street Journal headlines... BR