Literary woman about town Sara Rahman has the scoop on Paris’ newest and hippest artsy event: The Book Club, occurring monthly at trendy SOPI wine bar, Le Carmen. The next gathering takes place tomorrow, so here’s everything you need to know. -Geneviève

Dress code: book required, clothing optional (not really, please don’t do that). The Book Club at Le Carmen was launched this February in order to promote a new literary magazine, A Tale of Three Cities (TOT), which will be debuting this June. The lit-chic fête is held the last Wednesday of every month at Le Carmen near Place Pigale in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, in the rooms where Bizet composed his most famous oeuvre.

I recently met with Rosa Rankin-Gee, one of TOT’s founding fathers and a talented writer, editor, and purveyor of merriment in her own right. We sat atop a hill this Easter Sunday and chatted about her most recent work in progress.

Naturally, my first question was who attends.

“Beautiful people who read.” Excellent. Those non-prescription Ray-Ban specs are being put to good use after all. Truly, though, the crowd at the two parties I attended was mighty fine looking indeed (see photos).

Now, if that isn’t reason enough, why did TOT decide to do TBC?

“It’s all to do with the magazine which is a join-up of dots between Paris, London, and Berlin. And I suppose it’s the exchange of stories by writers in those cities. The Book Club’s quite a nice way of doing that. We’re sharing books, we’re sharing stories.”

So, what to wear?

Rosa mentioned that you can think of the party’s theme as literature “lite”. “Lite” in all ways, I assume. Balancing a champagne glass with a nice, hefty volume of John Dos Passos could get tricky. And no one really wants to untangle 20th century American intellectual history while making eyes at the barman. The French are snorting into their champagne flutes.

Did I mention unfounded cultural arrogance is not allowed?

Basically, you can bring what you want and take the conversation wherever you like. If you want to debate the importance of teaching the Western canon, that’s lovely. But if your plan is just to chat up the tall redhead wearing the pocket square, who happens to be holding Huis Clos, which you happen to have read in your high school French lit class, that’s fine, too. His name is Jethro Turner, by the way, and he’s another of the event’s dashing organizers. The third is Hanna Beširević, also comely, of course.

Your book can be in English, French, Braille…the idea is to revisit the days when words in print were cool. Or rather, when they weren’t optional. “We’re trying to go against the demise of the printing press,” says Rosa. “We believe in real paper: touchable, holdable, foldable.”

So leave the Kindle at home!

Scratch that. Rosa says you can bring the Kindle as long as you trade with her first. What’s she bringing? Come and find out at tomorrow’s Book Club.

The Book Club at Le Carmen: Chapter 3. Wednesday, April 27 8:30 pm – 2:30 am. Le Carmen. 34 rue Duperré, Paris 9eme.

Book Clubs in other cities:

  • Berlin: May 4th
  • London: Mid-may

Written by Sara Rahman for the Hip Paris Blog. All images courtesy of The Book Club. For our amazing rentals in Paris, Provence & Tuscany check out our website Haven in Paris.


Sara Rahman

Sara Rahman studied history as an undergraduate at Yale University and contemporary feminism as a graduate fellow at Sciences Po. She spent the past academic year writing a paper on family planning and making friends in Paris. She will be attending law school in the fall of 2011, where she hopes to join a folk singing group, write a book, and learn to be a good student in her spare time.


  1. Well, this is so congenial and great! You know what, since I was 7 years old, I’m fond of reading books so until now, books is a big part of my life. Reading is one of my daily routine! Thank you for sharing! =)

  2. I ve been to the three first chapters of this “literary” party and it s very disappointing…Bring a book is actually just a pretext and girls and boys just maybe feel more clever with a book as some others more self confident with a cigarette. Just here to be seen and be taken on photos, far from a real book club atmosphere. Nothing happens, you ll get bored very soon even if the place is very charming.
    People just stay with there friends and would not share anything, any talk with someone they don’t know, and absolutely not talking about either intellectual or literary.
    The concept is very nice, the result is pitiful and pathetic.
    (excuse my poor english…)

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience of the book club. I have not personally been yet so I can not share my own thoughts, but to hear both sides of the story is very helpful and invaluable. I will let you know what I think if I make it to one. Your English is great and thanks again for letting us know. Anyone else who has been we would love to hear your thoughts.

  3. This is so great! I love reading French Books, they truly are my favorite! I hope to experience this soon! 

  4. Sara, I love this post. I am going to paris in june and am wondering if you think they’ll have it then. Also, I wanna ask you a few more questions! If you could email me that would be so fantastic. Merci!

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