Library Lust


My mom has been a librarian my whole life. I don’t know if this contributed to my writerly aspirations, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Our quality time often saw us curled up on our respective couches, good book in hand. Who said I needed to move to France to learn about the simple pleasures of life?

Just why it took me so long to go to the public library in Paris, then, I really can’t say. My source of English-language books has thus far been bookstores (and a semi-annual booksale where paperbacks are only a euro! Details below**)

My other English language escape is, of course, the Internet. I am simultaneously in love/in hate with the Internet. Living abroad I’m thankful for how easy it is to stay in touch with everyone and get news from home. But I also fall victim to the web’s siren song. Somehow a 2-minute email check turns into a 2-hour black hole, time disappearing into it.

I have a lot of writing I want to do. Yet my best laid plans are often interrupted by my (almost) addiction. (Or should I say my addiction is sometimes interrupted by writing).

Trying to get a handle on this, I’ve set up lots of little tricks. I’ve gone so far as to install a program called “Freedom” that makes it impossible for me to connect to the Internet for a set amount of time (thank you, Freedom!)

But it’s not only the Internet. Working at home I find a myriad of distractions, even away from the computer screen. (Why do I always decide I must eat when I can’t think of the next sentence?) So yesterday I decided to run away from my house. And the library was my savior.

Turns out you can’t actually run away from the Internet at a public library. (Don’t worry, I knew that. I’m not that behind the times). It does offer a more serious atmosphere, however, and it reminds me that I’m not there to play. (Though in my early Paris days, I was intrigued by the fact that many libraries were equipped with “discothèques”. When I learned this only meant a music collection and not strobe lights and disco balls, I was quietly disappointed).

Unassuming library book display...

As I was leaving the library, I noticed a display of women’s titles laid neatly on a table. I’m sure it had been in honor of International Women’s Day on Monday.

...until I saw this

And then I really noticed one of the books: Le Petit Bout de Bonheur (The Little Tip of Happiness). The extended title: Le Manuel de Clitology.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t think the clitoris is awesome (it is!). But some measure of American Puritanism must have lodged itself inside me because I immediately looked around, kind of embarrassed, like, um, excuse me, did you mean to leave this out?

Then I picked it up (see, I’m no prude!)…and then took a photo of the cover to share with you. (By this point, the woman browsing next to me must have really thought I was strange).

I just can’t imagine a Manual of Clitology being part of such a prominent display in a library back home – at least not in my hometown library. It was a very, ‘oh yeah, I’m in Paris’ kind of moment. (And really, is clitology actually a word?)

To find your nearest public library in Paris click here.

**Huge English-language booksale coming up on March 20. SOS Help offers an English-language listening line. Living abroad can be challenging, and it’s nice to know there’s a resource out there if you just need to talk. The booksale raises money for SOS. I love walking away with a whole new set of books – last year I walked away with 37 – and knowing I’m contributing to a worthy cause to boot. Info here if you’re interested. (And stock up for me – I have a wedding to go to and will miss the sale!)

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13 Responses to “Library Lust”

  1. 1 Alison March 10, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    How funny! (and yes it would have made me blush too!) I’m sad to say I’ve only been to the library here once in five years and it was only because a friend was dropping off a book. It’s silly really because I spend a fortune in book but I just love to own them if only temporarily for some reason. I should make an effort to explore my local library though!


  2. 2 parisimperfect March 10, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Hi Alison. I totally agree. Yesterday was the first time I went to the library here – and look what happened 🙂 There is something about owning books. Having full bookcases at home makes me happy. Though maybe I should really sort that out – remember I have very little space in my apartment! Report back about your local library experience if you decide to go 🙂


  3. 3 Lindsey March 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Hey, you’re not in Kansas anymore girl 🙂

    glad to see they display all KINDS of reading!


  4. 5 pariskarin March 10, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    “Somehow a 2-minute email check turns into a 2-hour black hole, time disappearing into it.”

    Heh!! No kidding. This is a tough one, huh.

    Totally cracking up at “clitology.” That is great. 🙂 I love the title of the book, too. “The Little Tip of Happiness.” Heh! Sooooo, did you actually look inside to see if there was any good advice?!

    I love libraries: they are havens of peace and all things good, IMHO. I know that I would probably feel very at home in a public library in Paris, although going to one has stymied me so far. How do I find one? Are there rules for entry? How would I know, since I don’t speak, read, or listen to French very well? It has felt overwhelming to me. You make it sound not-so-bad, though. And with the link, I see there are no less than SIX in my general area! I will have to see if I can suck it up, grow a pair, and make myself go to one.

    Thank you, too, for the info about the book sale! I know a couple of people that would be very happy to know about it. I hope I can check it out. Happy wedding-going to you. 🙂

    Now, get back to work!! 🙂


    • 6 parisimperfect March 10, 2010 at 5:42 pm

      Hi Karin,

      Go to the library! Right now! I don’t know how the branches in your (my old) ‘hood will be, but at this one I didn’t have to talk to a single person. ANYONE can just walk in – that’s what’s so great about a public library! I understand being intimidated, but really, you don’t have to interact with anyone if you don’t want to 🙂 Plus, there is sometimes a section of books in English, too!

      Glad I’m providing some helpful links, too. Have fun at the booksale! (And yes, what am I doing on the internet – I was working on a story, damn it!) 🙂


  5. 7 Lee March 10, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Oh,oh. I’m in the black hole “just checking email” right now. (How long have I been here?) The internet is completely seductive/addictive to me, too. Oh, and buying books. Another addiction.


  6. 9 PigletinFrance March 11, 2010 at 8:23 am

    LOL 🙂 What a strange book to have in a library! Being English I’m quite prudish so kudos to you for taking a picture of it to show us all! I would never, ever, ever have dared. Way to go!

    As for the black hole of internet, I couldn’t agree more! I actually have to limit myself otherwise I loose my whole day if I’m not careful!


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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