In another article, we explained how big of a help reading can be when you’re learning another language. So naturally, we’ve made a list of the best books for learning Italian. We specifically chose books for practicing Italian vocabulary and memorizing phrase structures you can use in real life, but more importantly, our sights were set on books that focus on our interest: Italian culture.
Books to Read if You Want to Learn Italian in an Entertaining Way
Italian is one of those languages that’s only spoken in a few places around the world. Yet it still draws people in. Why? Italian is esteemed for its link with culture. If you like opera, you will love Italian. If you like culturally diverse cafes and restaurants, you will appreciate properly ordering a frappuccino or cappuccino in Italy. Some of the charms of Italian culture are Venice, Ancient Rome, Florence, the Tower of Pisa, Marco Polo, Michelangelo’s paintings and Galileo’s theories.
The books on our list explore all of these aspects of Italian culture, and more. As an added bonus, they’ll help you learn the language!
Books for Starting Italian from the Ground Up
Read Classic Italian Novels
By relying on an English translation as a backup, you can begin reading Italian novels even as a beginner. Here’s how. Find a classic Italian novel, such as The Moon and the Bonfires along with its original Italian version, La Luna e i Falò. As you read the Italian version, be sure to keep pace with the English version, taking note and jotting down new words and structures you’ve learned.
Giallo is a very narrow, yet much-loved subgenre. Basically, Giallo novels are Italian translations of classic English mystery novels. Using both versions of the books for practicing Italian is a great opportunity to experience English authors you have heard so much about but never read. Edgar Allen Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie still have modern communities of translators.
Books for Beginners and Food Lovers
What could be better than mixing language learning with another subject you love? This section covers books about delicious food and drinks. And if you are only just starting to learn Italian, they’re perfect for you!
Lasciatemi cucinare! Ricette mediterranee por apprendisti Cuochi
This book is accessible for all ages. It teaches the art of cooking as a creation that plays on all your senses and feelings. Lasciatemi cucinare! shows why love is the main ingredient to a great dish.
Cappuccino italiano. Latte art
Cappuccino and latte art are the main topics in this book, available online. Best of all, it’s written in Italian and English and is filled with appetizing pictures. It’s perfect for coffee lovers who want to practice both languages.
Books for Practicing Italian at an Intermediate Level
Literature is a great way to learn about the history, humor and spirit of Italian culture. Below you’ll find our favorite Italian books for intermediate learners.
Le storie della fantasia
This book is one of many works by Gianni Rodari, one of the most famous children’s literature authors. If you liked this story, you can begin reading other books by him. This book is especially important if you’re learning Italian with your children. Or, if your goal in Italy is to work in an extracurricular environment or a daycare center for example.
Le storie della fantasia on Amazon
Marcovaldo ovvero le stagioni in citta
This amazing classic by Italo Calvino tells the story of Marcovaldo in the city. Luckily, the vocabulary and sentences structures are simple and easy to understand. And as a bonus, the characters are particularly interesting.
Find the Italian version on Amazon
Books for Practicing Italian at an Advanced Level
L’Italiano Attraverso La Storia Dell’Arte
This book is great for readers who love art and want to travel to Italy to see it up close. It makes numerous references to Italian art. And it offers some detail about Italy’s most famous works, artists and the cultural reality of different periods.
Comandi, sior paron! Storie e storielle del carnevale di Venezia
And for our last spot, we’ll cover another book for children. This time, we offer you the story of the Venice carnival and other jokes and amusing tales about this centuries-old festival. Added bonus: the book is filled with illustrations and other anecdotes which make reading it even more enjoyable.
If your public library has books in foreign languages, chances are that you’ll find other books just like these. Otherwise, we suggest checking out online retailers like Amazon and IBS.
If you have any recommendations or have just read a great book in Italian, feel free to let us know in the comments section to help others learn Italian.
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