Brush Up Your French with These Short Novels!

We have a New Year resolution’s suggestion for you: brush up your French with any of these short and engaging French books! What’s better than easing into clear and magnetic writing, letting yourself go as you delve into a compelling and fast-pace narrative? With this selection, you’ll be in good hands, and you’ll be reading French fluently in no time, guaranteed!

Reading List

Paris est tout Petit by Jacques Prévert

A1 Level 

Le Jardin
Des milliers et des milliers d’années
Ne sauraient suffire
Pour dire
La petite seconde d’éternité
Où tu m’as embrassé
Où je t’ai embrassée
Un matin dans la lumière de l’hiver
Au parc Montsouris à Paris
A Paris
Sur la terre
La terre qui est un astre.

If you were able to understand the above, then Paris est tout Petit is just what you need to brush up on your French while dreaming of being in Paris… and in love.

Paris est tout Petit by Jacques Prévert, ed. Folio

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The Garden (English)
Millions and millions of years
Would not suffice
To speak of
The little second of eternity
When you kissed me
When I kissed you
One morning in the winter sunlight
In Montsouris Park in Paris
On the Earth
The Earth that is a star.
(tr. by Adam, Emil)


La Liste de mes envies by Grégoire DeLacourt

A1/A2 Level 

Jocelyne lives in a small town in France where she runs a fabric shop, has been married to the same man for twenty-one years, and has raised two children. She is beginning to wonder what happened to all those dreams she had when she was seventeen. Could her life have been different?

Then she wins the lottery—and suddenly finds the world at her fingertips. But she chooses not to tell anyone, not even her husband—not just yet. Without cashing the check, she begins to make a list of all the things she could do with the money. But does Jocelyne really want her life to change?

La Liste de mes envies, Grégoire Delacourt, ed. Le Livre de poche

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La Tendresse du Crawl by Colombe Schneck

A1/A2 Level

A man and a woman first meet in their teenage years, and then again decades later, in midlife. They flirt, take long walks in Paris, share meals, confide in each other, and swim together. “He taught me that I have a body,” says the narrator. A short and tender novella about being in love and its everlasting magic!

La Tendresse du Crawl, a novel by Colombe Schneck, ed. Grasset

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Combien de fois je t’aime by Serge Joncour

A1/A2 Level

Over the course of one’s life, how many times does one fall in love? A man and a woman have been emailing each other back and forth, and tonight, they’re about to meet for the first time. Another two have met on a train, and one single word may change their lives forever.

A third man seems fascinated by the numbers listed in his phone directory… These 17 short stories tell us –with much power and emotion– that love never ends.

Combien de fois je t’aime by Serge Joncour, ed. J’ai lu

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Arrête avec tes mensonges by Philippe Besson

A2 Level 

Just outside a hotel in Bordeaux, Philippe chances upon a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love. What follows is a look back at the relationship he’s never forgotten, a hidden affair with a gorgeous boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls, they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair.

Besson’s powerfully moving coming-of-age story captures the eroticism and tenderness of first love—and the heartbreaking passage of time.

Arrête avec tes mensonges Philippe Besson, ed. Pocket

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La Part du feu by Hélène Gestern

B1 Level

When Laurence, a Parisian woman in her forties, learns from her aging father that she isn’t his biological child, she starts digging into her parents’ past and stumbles on a set of intimate letters exchanged between her mother and a man, Guillermo Zorgen, whom she has never heard of.
As Laurence soon finds out, Zorgen was a charismatic leader of a far left group in the 70s who advocated for violent action, and 35 years later, she can’t resist falling under his spell…

Who was this magnetic young man? How was he connected to her parents? Here’s another incredibly romantic and addictive novel by Hélène Gestern, bestelling author of Eux sur la photo and L’eau qui dort.

La Part du feu by Hélène Gestern, ed. Arléa

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Petit Pays by Gael Faye

B1 Level

Petit pays tells the story of a young boy growing up in a period of relative peace in Burundi. The first democratic elections have been held, and everyone is excited at the prospect of prosperous times ahead. However, a coup d’etat sends the country into a tailspin, and as the massacres in the north begin to spread south, Gabriel loses his innocence and watches as loved ones lose their homes, their identities, and in many cases, their lives.
Beautifully written, heartfelt without ever being sentimental, Petit pays is a magnificent debut novel. Read more.

Petit pays, a novel by Gael Faye, ed. J’ai lu (Grasset)

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After almost two decades of working in publishing, and a few round trips between Paris and New York, Miriam has decided to settle down at Albertine to do what she enjoys most: recommending books she loves. Somehow this also includes taking bizarre pictures for Albertine's social media outlets.
Other recommendations by Miriam Bridenne