Review: Paris Letters

I decided to read Janice MacLeod’s Paris Letters for two reasons: (1) Janice’s ongoing story of working to ditch her tiresome 9-5 corporate life for something bigger resonates deeply with me, and (2) well, Paris. A relatively quick read, I’d recommend this book to anyone who has even the slightest inkling that there might be something more than what’s been sold to them. Or to anyone who wants to read dreamy descriptions of – in my humble opinion – the best city in the world. Swoonfest.

My recommendation comes with a caveat: as much as I enjoyed Paris Letters and thoroughly applaud Janice for her zeal, determination, writings, and creativity, I found her story a touch unrelatable at times. This admittedly is not her fault. For example, at the start of her journey, she sets a personal goal of saving $100/day for a year in order to free herself from the chains of cubicle life.

$100/day? Save $100/day? That makes her monthly savings goal triple what I make in a month. I honestly didn’t know a person could do such a thing. She writes about how her climb up the corporate ladder had landed her in a very comfortable financial situation, but still. The thought of saving $100/week sounds lofty, let alone a day. Again, not her fault, but it was off-putting for me in the beginning. However, I liked her style and could see images of Paris dancing in the horizon, so I kept reading. I’m glad I did.

As someone who grapples with a lot of the things she writes about on a daily basis, I saw myself in many of her mental meanderings. She writes,

“I had grown tired of my straight line: building the résumé, the account balance, saving for a down payment, etc. I wanted to flit about with a complete disregard for sensible living.”

Preach. Janice tells us about her new habit of daily journaling, her adventures in purging and getting her life down to “one suitcase,” her increased ability to do things for herself instead of things people expect of her (e.g., dinners out with friends who order more drinks than you do and suggest the check be split evenly, aka the bane of my existence). These and other lifestyle changes land her exactly where she wants to be: Paris.

Like anyone on a journey like Janice’s, you set out looking for something. You might or might not think you know what you’re looking for, but usually, whatever it is that you don’t know you need finds a way of presenting itself. If you’re anything like me, Paris Letters will make you nod your head ferociously, roll your eyes a couple times (think: every Italian man stereotype you’ve ever heard come to life), audibly chuckle, and reconsider what it is you’ve been doing all this time. And start researching flights to Paris.

I’ll leave you with this quote and let you read the rest:

“Along the way, I replaced a bad habit of being upset with a good habit of being happy. Could it really be that simple?”

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