Sunday, August 9, 2015

Why I do Paris in July

 Paris in July is a  month long blogging event that my friend Karen and I dreamed up more than 6 years ago. Karen has been a mentor to me for a long time, particularly for encouraging me to read more and to enjoy books. As a child I struggled to enjoy reading, and had greater opportunities to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle and my music studies - so outdoors or music always got more of my attention than books. However, as an adult, i realised that there is so much to learn from books, and there is a vast world of amazing history, thinking, politics, story telling and so much more that can be enjoyed from books. So when I watched Karen devour books (long before her little one appeared), I sought her encouragement. She introduced me first to book club, which I loved - the motivation to read something so I could join in the discussion. I read things I would never have chosen, and learnt to be honest about how I reacted to those books. When book club folded, Karen introduced me to blogging, and a whole new world of book readers.

However my blog is more about the wide range of things I think about in life - books, films and live performances are one subject I bring here, but also my gardening, permaculture and social justice thinking too. So Karen and I proposed to bring her book blogging friends, and mine, together to celebrate all things Paris in July. As a side, here in Australia, July is a cold and dreary time, so dreaming of Paris in July makes us feel happy.

 This year, Karen has taken a break from co hosting, but she's never very far from me and has supported this event in the background - thank you K. So hosting this year fulltime has in fact been just that - a very busy month. I was trying with all my effort to read and comment on all the posts - and loving what I could get to. The participants list was growing, and there were some wonderful contributions. But for me, I didn't get much of a chance to do my own Paris in July Posts, and I found myself feeling a little stressed about that. However, on reflection, hosting, reading all the posts, and visiting Paris with you all, is just what Paris in July is about for me. I'm a parasite of sorts...virtually traveller.
 I've reflected on why I do Paris in July, and why I love it, and it seems to me, my strongest motivation is that I do love Paris - the real city, and also, the romantic notions that have been associated with Paris for centuries. I've been studying French, in a very part time way, for more than 8 years, and in these studies we learn about the culture, the politics, and the society - we study events like the Charlie Hebdo shootings, the many strikes that occur in Paris, the refugee crisis and Calais, the elections - and I've come to like the way Parisians and the French are very public about their opinions.
The Parisians live their life in the streets - the markets, the cafes, the protests, the shops, the metro.... we can observe all this - as authors have done for centuries. I reflected on that this year as I read your book reviews, and as I enjoyed Patti Millers "Ransacking Paris", where she introduced me to literary heros of the past who enjoyed visiting Paris - I think I love Paris because it challenges my Aussie upbringing - where private is private....  I love watching people.... and Paris is where people live in the streets..
When I was a child, my parents were world travellers, and I spent the first 5 years of my life amongst some of the worlds busiest and intense cities, moving alot, but I was always watching people, learning about the world through other peoples public lives. When we returned to Australia, we moved to a very quiet and remote rural setting where public lives were hard to observe - Australians, and country folk at that, are not very social creatures - and I missed that.
There's so much to love about Paris - the artists that come from Paris, the artists that are inspired by Paris - fashion, film, food, literature, architecture, music, and the lists goes on - they all share with us their take on the character of Paris.
Paris in July is an event that brings observers of that to a forum where we can share and learn more... but for me, it's a new window for me to observe life in Paris through your eyes....


Sharon said...

This was the first time I have participated in your Paris in July event and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I also live in a regional Australian community but I love the great cities of the world, Paris but also some of the other European cities like Vienna and London, I wish I was able to visit them more often. I am finding life in regional Queensland a bit narrow in many ways, and I can relate to what your write. I like that you blog about things other than just books. The blogs I most enjoy reading are rich and multidimensional, yours is one of those blogs.

Lisbeth @ The Content Reader said...

This was my second year with Paris in July, and I am already looking forward to next year. You did it so well this year, and all on your own. I can imagine it is a lot of work. Especially, since there were so many posts, on various subjects and very interesting. I really enjoyed this year. I am currently reading 'Nana' by Emile Zola, as wanting to read something written by a Frenchman.
Thank you once again for hosting this.

Christine Harding said...

Thank you for organising the month.

Each time I try to join Paris in July I get overtaken by other events, and this year was no exception, and I never caught up with myself. I'm sorry I didn't do more posts but, like you, I love Paris, and it brought back some very happy memories. In addition I've loved reading other people's contributions (still catching up on those!) and I have a list of books (many of them titles I might not otherwise have chosen) which will keep me going for months. And I discovered the French Bingo Reading Challenge, which is great fun.

Perhaps I should write some French posts now and save them for next year's 'trip'!

Teddyree said...

Wonderful post Tamara, loved getting a little insight into why and how 'Paris in July' came about. Lovely photos too. I've had such a fun time on this Paris in July tour, learnt so much, added to my TBR pile and put so many new places and things to do to on my bucket list for when I'm lucky enough to return to Paris. It was like a mini-holiday :)

Louise said...

Thank you so much for running Paris in July, and continuing to do so single handed. I'm sure it is a lot of work organising it all, making it fresh each year- it's a real highlight of the blogging year, although I think about Paris year round and not just in July of course. What is it with rural Aussie women dreaming of Paris?

Carolyn B said...

Loved reading this, Tamara. Cheers from a new fan and thanks for doing this each year.