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Start Going Places Posts

now at Stanfords

What’s the first thing you must have before going abroad?  Your passport, of course.  That magical document opens border fences and invites you to delight your senses on the other side!  Here’s a picture of mine:

Stanfords book store in London calls their loyalty card the ‘passport,’ which is completely appropriate.  Travel books and maps are their raison d’être.  That’s what they do exclusively.  All six floors of an historic Covent Garden building are cheek by jowl with everything travel-related.  Every destination is covered, and all means of transportation.  The basement maritime section and charts are phenomenal.  A couple times I’ve been so absorbed, staff have had to ask me to leave.  “Closing?  Now?  But I’m in the middle of the South Pacific!”

Can you think of a more appropriate place for my travel memoir French License ?  Sure, my adventure isn’t quite as harrowing as that of fellow Stanford patron Ernest Shakelton, but it sure felt like it!  We both got out alive, and now my grind is your guffaw.  Check out French License, and while you’re at it, pick up a map and a guidebook.  Those pesky travel destinations keep building new roads and restaurants!


tube Covent Garden or Leicester Square

12-14 Long Acre, London WC2E 9LP

open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. nearly every day

+44 20 7836 1321


© Copyright Joe Start. All rights reserved. © 2017


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Parler Paris cracked up by permit boy

I seem to cause trouble wherever I go, even when I’m not there…

This time, veteran expat blogger and Parisian property expert Adrian Leeds “laughed out loud” in her stylish nail salon while reading my book French License.  No doubt this caused a ruckus in that refined setting, a splattering of glitter and perhaps dremel damage.  I’m dreadfully sorry.

The incident has hit the front page of her Parler Paris newsletter today.  Now the whole town knows.

Look for Adrian on House Hunters International episodes on HGTV.  She’s the one with nail polish spills up to her elbow.  It’s all my fault.

Perhaps she’ll forgive me if I speak at one of her upcoming gatherings. Stay tuned for details in the new year…

© Copyright Joe Start. All rights reserved. © 2017


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Although Bleu didn’t come over on the Mayflower, he snuck in under a pilgrim chapeau on a subsequent trip.  He was fleeing persecution for his beliefs, which are “I get whatever I want, whenever I want.”  Thanksgivingly, his new home has enabled Bleu to live his lifestyle choice to the fullest.

For your reading pleasure, here’s an article which appeared this week in the USA Today with a picture from fellow author and expat Jeff Steiner:

Thanksgiving in Europe: Good luck finding a turkey and all the trimmings


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French License how-to

My book French License isn’t a how-to. It’s a humorous memoir about an expat trying to cope abroad. Half the book is about other funny things that happened along the way.
However, going through the experience the hard way has made me a bit more knowledgeable than the average California bear.  So, I’ve been asked to give presentations to fellow expats who are just as stuck as I was, and looking desperately for solutions.  Do I exaggerate ?  A few stats about the process:

‘Code’ written test has a lower pass rate than the NY bar exam

Costs more than 2 new iPhones

Takes longer than the Voyager 1 trip to Saturn

A good dozen people attended my presentation « Getting your French Driver’s License » last night at the American Library in Paris.  There were horror stories, and a glimpse of hope from some who were approaching the grail.
I’m happy to share the PDF of the presentation for those who couldn’t make it.  Simply add your e-mail below, and let me know you’d like a copy.

© Copyright Joe Start. All rights reserved. © 2017


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my journey

There was a good turnout on a chilly Friday night in Paris to hear my story about my story “French License.”  How I got the book in the right format, to distribute on marketplaces.  How I secured a professionally designed cover.  How I chose print-on-demand services.  How I knocked on the doors of dozens of independent bookstores to get hard copies on shelves.  What I did to promote, and what’s coming next in the process of marketing and selling the book.  There was also a hint of projects under works which should see the day soon.

It was great to hear all the questions, and learn where other writers are at in their author journey. At some points it was like a really cool brainstorming session on what other things I could do to build interest.

Warm appreciation to Paris Creative Writers and their fearless leader Gray for sponsoring.  Thanks to the Louvre Anticafé for hosting.

For future events, please visit this page:



Tales of Brave Ulysses

Wonderful reading event last night with drinks and conversation at the Librairie Ulysse!   I counted about 20 folks at one point.  It settled down to a solid dozen for both readings.  I read chapter 32, and my actress wife read chapter 5, both en français for the very first time.  Thanks to Aurore for the ‘theatralisation’ of the readings, making them more akin to a performance.  This must have influenced the public, which bought a couple copies of French License!

We brought mulled wine, expecting a chilly evening.  Rain showers were even predicted at one point.  Never fear, it was mild and dry outside, with clear skies exposing a near-full moon.  A wonderful night to be out, walking the bridges between the Ile Saint-Louis and the Ile de la Cité, and the bright moon floating above Notre-Dame.

Huge thanks to Catherine and Dominique for welcoming us to the Librairie Ulysse!  People were enjoying themselves so much, the duo delayed closing time for two hours past the schedule!  We finally pulled ourselves away from good conversation at 11 p.m.

For future events, please visit this page:


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now at Daunt books

The Daily Telegraph calls it ‘the most beautiful bookshop in London – designed for travellers who like reading.’  There’s carved wood everywhere in this Edwardian treasure, and isn’t that just what you want in a bookstore?  The feel is marvellous walking over inlaid boards, calling you with their squeaks to your next destination.  The continent perhaps?  Maybe France?  Are you in the mood for a humorous take on living abroad?  You’re in luck, because French License is now available at Daunt Books!

Daunt Books

83 Marylebone High Street

Baker Street tube
Open every day of the week until 7:30 PM except for Sunday at 6 PM

+44 20 7224 2295

other London locations:

Three independent book shops outside London:

© Copyright Joe Start. All rights reserved. © 2017


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now at So. Ken books

There’s a pretty little postcard of a book shop in Chelsea.  Wouldn’t you know it, they specialise in art, notably the Visual Arts, Architecture and Photography.  Stands to reason with the Victoria and Albert Museum a short walk away.

The History section is also vast.  The ancient battles between Britain and France are not forgotten, but forgiven.  In fact, this area is so welcoming to the French that you’d think it was part of France.  Nearby are a crêperie, a French high school, the French consul and cultural attaché, the Institut français, and a bookstore carrying titles in French exclusively, Librairie Française La Page.  They are the ones who suggested I present my book French License to So. Ken, who now carries it on their shelves!

So, if you’re in the neighborhood, and interested in travel and a good laugh, ask the good people here about French License.

South Kensington Books

22 Thurloe Street
London SW7
United Kingdom

Tube station: South Kensington (where else?)

Mon – Fri: 10.00 – 20.00
Sat: 11.00 – 19.00
Sun: 12.00 – 19.00

© Copyright Joe Start. All rights reserved. © 2017


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NBA starts

The NBA Regular Season Begins today.  Bleu’s sister is ready.  She got the Jordan tongue thing goin’ on.



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now at Belgravia Books

London can be loud.  Even in the parks the constant hum of busses and taxis circling remind that you’re not alone.  Side streets are often more peaceful, where you can do your thing without distraction.

Conveniently close to Victoria station, but miles from the hustle and bustle, is an oasis called Belgravia Books.  This is a place which invites you to stay a while.  Translated thrillers fresh off the foreign presses await you.  Essays make you think and travel tomes take you away.  You can tell the purveyors know about every one of their wares.  Notes and recommendations are next to many titles.  Posts on their blog help you make your list before going there.

Maybe you fancy a comical tale of cross-cultural confusion?  If so, why not tick French License in your basket?  They now carry it at this book store!

Belgravia Books and Gallic Books

59​ ​Ebury​ ​Street,​ ​London​ ​SW1W​ ​0NZ

Victoria tube​

+44 207 259​ ​9336

Monday – Friday: 9:30am – 6pm
Saturday: 11am – 6pm

© Copyright Joe Start. All rights reserved. © 2017


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