Great Books to Read as an Expat

petite-uk paperbackBy Chantal Panozzo

While living in Switzerland, I have devoured many books about the living abroad lifestyle. Books about a British woman involved with too many French men. Books about an American man trying to buy something as simple as a bay leaf in France to disastrous results. And books about an Australian journalist who can’t help but run out in her sweat pants to buy a baguette to the horror of her chic Parisian neighbors.

Below I’ve listed some of my favorites—and as you’ll see, I have an affinity for books taking place in France. Am I a traitor? I don’t think so. Because right now, I can’t seem to find any memoirs about living in Switzerland, even though the country has a foreign population of 20%. But no matter. Because the experience of living abroad and reinventing one’s self is a universal theme no matter the location. And because most of the books below have reinvention abroad as a major theme, I can relate to them all—and I think maybe you will too.

Petite Anglaise by Catherine Sanderson is a memoir about life in Paris with a modern, digital twist. What happens when your blog messes with your love life and gets you fired from your job? This British author and expat has the answer.

I’ll Never Be French by Mark Greenside is a hilarious account of what happens when an American man buys a house in Brittany. It’s fun and lighthearted and makes me want to move to France.

A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke is an international bestseller, “almost memoir”, about a British businessman who takes a job in Paris. It’s an entertaining and humorous book that deals with the realities of life and work abroad.

GenXPat by Margaret Malewski and A Moveable Marriage by Robin Pascoe are both excellent informational and practical guidebooks books on living abroad.

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull is a bestseller in Turnbull’s native Australia and deals with a young woman trying to discover a new identity abroad.

But enough about what I like. What are your favorite books about life abroad?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

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  1. I really enjoyed A Year in the Merde! Jo Parfitt is another great expat author and there are rave reviews for The Expat Arc by Danielle Barkhouse. Planet Germany by Cathy Dobson is another one that I’ve heard a lot about. Great selections in the post – I’ll have to add them to my reading list!

  2. Hi Tiffany,

    Thanks for your recommended reads. I know of Jo Parfitt but have yet to read one of her books. Thanks for the suggestions. They sound great as well!

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