When I informed my department that I was finally going to France after years of hearing them rave about how amazing it is and how much they love it there, one of the professors presented me with a signed copy of his Very Short Introduction to French Literature. Which I thought was absolutely delightful, and it inspired me to buy some actual french literature (translated) for the trip.
This was the first book I started reading while on vacation, and it was the perfect companion during our many hours on the train. It discussed centuries of work in an approachable context – dipping your toes in the waters of french literature, if you will. I might check out a few more of these Very Short Introductions, to help me understand what’s motivating all these crazy academic types.