Fiction that Enlightens: Learning Something Adds to the Enjoyment

Oleanders and Books, Van Gogh

For many years, I avoided reading fiction. The world is vast and there is so much to know that I just couldn’t justify reading a novel. In addition, there are so many talented journalists-turned-author that it’s easy to find nonfiction on almost any subject that grabs and holds your attention—history,…

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January Potpourri: Parks, Pipes, Pics, and Popular Portrayals

Eiffel Tower in Winter

Throughout the month I come across a fair number of francophile-related articles, blogs, images, books, or videos that I’d like to share with readers. I’ve combined this potpourri of news items into a single post. Here are some of the gems from January as well as a brief book review…

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The Story of French and How it Became a Remarkably Popular Language

Last week I began summarizing some of the highlights from The Story of French, by Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow. My post left off in the midst of the French Revolution. I read much of the book in November. During the week of our election, I was learning that at…

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The Mystifying Popularity of the French Language Revealed

Parlez-vous français?

Today, France lands at number 22 in the list of countries when ranked by population size. Yet, French is the 5th most spoken language in the world, behind English, Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish. It’s an impressive status for a relatively small country—49th in the world in terms of geographic area.…

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Valentine, a Killer Debut Novel, and Banned Books

Sunset in Big Bend National Park

Last week, I finished reading Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore. I previously thought that American Dirt would be my favorite book of 2020 but unexpectedly, Valentine bumped it out of the running by a significant margin. What each of us finds praiseworthy about a book is entirely personal and while I…

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