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While it’s great to read and learn what you can before visiting a place, I tend to like to read about different areas after I’ve seen them firsthand or while I’m traveling. I have more of a connection with the place – a frame of reference – to understand what’s happening in the book and where it’s set. I read Shantaram, a common ‘must-read’ on the backpacking trail, after spending a month in India and loved it. I would have enjoyed the book before going to the country, but by reading it after my trip I knew exactly where the characters were and what they were talking about – heck, I recognized the same streets and even cafes mentioned. If I had read it beforehand, there would have been so many details I would have missed or not picked up on.
In regards to my Italian trip, now that I’ve left the country I’m more interested in reading about it. These are the books about Italy I’m going to check out next:
The Talented Mr. Ripley
You’ve probably seen the movie, but have you read the book? Me neither…but it’s first on my list to get to. Part, crime, part psychological thriller, part vacationing around Italy, The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith, is a reworking Henry James’ The Ambassadors and is also the first in a five part series following Ripley’s escapades.
Speaking of Henry James, his book, Daisy Miller, follows a young American girl’s travel and questionable relationships through Switzerland and Italy. The novel speaks to society’s traditional views and treatment of women and courtship as well as how Europeans and Americans saw each other.
A Room with a View
Another look at society and relationships, A Room with a View, written by E. M. Forster in 1908, deals with Edwardian values, politics, restrictions and relationship rules by following another young woman during her time in Florence and Rome, falling in love and maneuvering societal standards and expectations.
Have you read any of these books or others about or set in Italy? Let me know in the comments below!
Note: The links above take you directly to where you can buy the books on Amazon where I receive a small commission with no added cost to you.