100 books like Bartali's Bicycle

By Megan Hoyt, Iacopo Bruno (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that Bartali's Bicycle fans have personally recommended if you like Bartali's Bicycle. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Harmonica

Karen Gray Ruelle Author Of The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

From my list on courage during the holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author/illustrator of over 20 books for children, ranging from whimsical fiction about anthropomorphic cats and rambunctious dogs to serious nonfiction about hidden children, unusual heroes and surprising spies of WWII and the Holocaust. Several of my nonfiction books, including The Grand Mosque of Paris, were created in collaboration.

Karen's book list on courage during the holocaust

Karen Gray Ruelle Why did Karen love this book?

This picture book was inspired by a true story about Henryk, a Jewish boy in WWII Poland. Henryk’s family loved music and enjoyed singing together. They couldn’t afford a piano, so Henryk learned to play Schubert on the harmonica his father had given him. When his parents were arrested by the Nazis, Henryk was deported to Dyhernfurth concentration camp. A Nazi guard heard him playing the harmonica and ordered the boy to play for him. Henryk didn’t want to play for the guard, but he had no choice. Then he found out that he also had another, more important audience: his fellow inmates could hear him play. His music was a gift for them, providing tremendous comfort during a time of despair. 

The text is poetic and powerful, and the illustrations, done in a dark palette, are haunting and exquisite.

By Tony Johnston, Ron Mazellan (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Harmonica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

This powerful story, inspired by the life of a Holocaust survivor, is a testament to the human spirit and the transcendent power of music.

When the Nazis invaded Poland, a family is split apart. The parents are sent to one concentration camp, their son to another. Only his father's gift, a harmonica, keeps the boy's hopes alive and, miraculously, ensures his survival. When an officer discovers his talent, he makes the boy play each night. Through music the boy invokes his parents and brings comfort to the other prisoners, lifting their spirits if only for a moment at time.

Ron…


Book cover of Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued

Karen Gray Ruelle Author Of The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

From my list on courage during the holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author/illustrator of over 20 books for children, ranging from whimsical fiction about anthropomorphic cats and rambunctious dogs to serious nonfiction about hidden children, unusual heroes and surprising spies of WWII and the Holocaust. Several of my nonfiction books, including The Grand Mosque of Paris, were created in collaboration.

Karen's book list on courage during the holocaust

Karen Gray Ruelle Why did Karen love this book?

In 1938, a young Englishman named Nicholas Winton canceled his ski vacation. Instead, he went to Prague to help the Jewish children seeking refuge there from the Nazis. Up until the start of the war in 1939, he made arrangements to send nearly 700 children to safety in England. He did everything from raising funds and locating foster families, to obtaining travel documents—even forging them when necessary. Then he went home and never told anyone what he had done. Fifty years later, his wife found all the records he’d kept and she tracked down as many of those children as she could. A now-famous video clip from a British TV show, “That’s Life,” shows an elderly and very surprised Nicholas as dozens of those he saved stand up in the audience to thank him. Among them was Vera Diamontova, who was just eleven years old when Nicholas saved her life.…

By Peter Sis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nicky & Vera as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

In 1938, twenty-nine-year-old Nicholas Winton saved the lives of almost 700 children trapped in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia-a story he never told and that remained unknown until an unforgettable TV appearance in the 1980s reunited him with some of the children he saved.

Czech-American artist, MacArthur Fellow and Andersen Award winner Peter Sis dramatises Winton's story in this distinctive and deeply personal picture book. He intertwines Nicky's efforts with the story of one of the children he saved-a young girl named Vera, whose family enlisted Nicky's aid when the Germans occupied their country. As the war passes and Vera grows up, she…


Book cover of The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey

Karen Gray Ruelle Author Of The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

From my list on courage during the holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author/illustrator of over 20 books for children, ranging from whimsical fiction about anthropomorphic cats and rambunctious dogs to serious nonfiction about hidden children, unusual heroes and surprising spies of WWII and the Holocaust. Several of my nonfiction books, including The Grand Mosque of Paris, were created in collaboration.

Karen's book list on courage during the holocaust

Karen Gray Ruelle Why did Karen love this book?

When Paris was taken over by the Nazis in 1940, Hans and Margret Rey were forced to flee. The author and illustrator of beloved children’s book classic Curious George headed out on their bicycles, taking with them their most precious possessions, notably the manuscripts and illustrations for their books. This delightful picture book traces their journey by bike, train, and boat from France to Spain to Portugal to Brazil and then, finally, to New York.

Presented in a scrapbook style, Drummond’s energetic illustrations work well alongside the many photos, documents, and excerpts from some of the original manuscripts and artwork. All the visual elements blend beautifully to accompany the upbeat, free verse text.

By Louise Borden, Allan Drummond (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Journey That Saved Curious George as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1940, Hans and Margaret Rey fled their Paris home as the German army advanced.They began their harrowing journey on bicycles, pedaling to Southern France with children's book manuscripts among their few possessions. Louise Borden combed primary resources, including Hans Rey's pocket diaries, to tell this dramatic true story. Archival materials introduce readers to the world of Hans and Margaret Rey while Allan Drummond dramatically and colorfully illustrates their wartime trek to a new home. Follow the Rey's amazing story in this unique large format book that resembles a travel journal and includes full-color illustrations, original photos, actual ticket stubs…


Book cover of Odette's Secrets

Karen Gray Ruelle Author Of The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

From my list on courage during the holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author/illustrator of over 20 books for children, ranging from whimsical fiction about anthropomorphic cats and rambunctious dogs to serious nonfiction about hidden children, unusual heroes and surprising spies of WWII and the Holocaust. Several of my nonfiction books, including The Grand Mosque of Paris, were created in collaboration.

Karen's book list on courage during the holocaust

Karen Gray Ruelle Why did Karen love this book?

Odette Meyers was a young Jewish girl living in Paris when the Nazis invaded. Her father joined the army and her mother joined the French resistance, so Odette was sent to live with a Catholic family in the countryside, where she would be safe. She had to pretend to be Catholic and keep her secrets locked away. After the war, Odette returned to her family and had to find a way to rediscover her true identity. Writing poetry helped her to adjust and she grew up to be a poet. Macdonald retells Odette’s story in evocative free verse, capturing the poetic voice of a young girl learning how to express her innermost thoughts and feelings during a tumultuous and dangerous time. The reader comes to love this little girl and admire her courage.

By Maryann MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Odette's Secrets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Odette is a young Jewish girl living in Paris during a dangerous time. The Nazis have invaded the city, and every day brings new threats.

After Odette's father enlists in the French army and her mother joins the Resistance, Odette is sent to the countryside until it is safe to return. On the surface, she leads the life of a regular girl--going to school, doing chores, and even attending Catholic Mass with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets about the life she left behind and her true identity.

Inspired by the life of the real Odette Meyers--and…


Book cover of The Giro d'Italia: Coppi vs. Bartali at the 1949 Tour of Italy

Peter Cossins Author Of Climbers: How the Kings of the Mountains Conquered Cycling

From my list on man’s exploration of the mountains.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing about cycling for 30 years and over that time I’ve become increasingly fascinated by the exploits of bike racers in the mountains and, above all, by this magnificent terrain itself. This ultimately led to my family leaving our home in the north of England and moving to the French Pyrenees, to a tiny hamlet that’s close to nowhere but is surrounded by mountains, where we can walk and ride endlessly through stunning countryside. I may not be French, but this is where I feel most at home.

Peter's book list on man’s exploration of the mountains

Peter Cossins Why did Peter love this book?

This book recounts the epic battle between long-time rivals Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi at the 1949 Giro d’Italia.

Buzzati was a journalist and novelist, and he depicts this duel beautifully as the race travels through a country that’s still ravaged by and coming to terms with the devastation caused during World War Two.

By Dino Buzatti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Giro d'Italia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first account of Giro d''Italia p ublished in English which includes maps and illustrations of the legendary 1949 Tour of Italy. '


Book cover of Primo Levi's Resistance: Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy

Gemma Liviero Author Of The Road Beyond Ruin

From my list on WW2 occupation, resistance, and the aftermath.

Why am I passionate about this?

Gemma is the bestselling author of historical fiction novels, translated into several languages. Set against the backdrop of war in Europe, her fifth book in this genre will be released later this year. She has combined the war experiences of family members in WWI and WWII, information collected during her research and travels, and her academic studies in writing and history, to create the authentic scenes and characters for her books.

Gemma's book list on WW2 occupation, resistance, and the aftermath

Gemma Liviero Why did Gemma love this book?

The partisan experiences of Primo Levi—chemist, Auschwitz survivor, and writer—are researched and offered in gritty, thorough detail by Luzzatto. Levi, in his writings, alluded to incidents that occurred during his time as a partisan, and Luzzatto delves deeper into the motivations behind these events and the personalities involved. The Resistance in its early days, while being hunted by Nazis and their Italian allies, became a small force of its own making, using collective, military-style decisions and tactics, and meting out its own forms of justice. An important book to gain insight into the complexities of purpose within the Resistance, learn about the crimes and subsequent justice of members of Salò—the puppet government installed in northern Italy—and understand the influences on political alignments and fascism in the period beyond the war.

By Sergio Luzzatto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Primo Levi's Resistance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No other Auschwitz survivor has been as literarily powerful and historically influential as Primo Levi. Yet Levi was not only a victim or a witness. In the fall of 1943, at the very start of the Italian Resistance, he was a fighter, participating in the first attempts to launch guerrilla warfare against occupying Nazi forces. Those three months have been largely overlooked by Levi's biographers; indeed, they went strikingly unmentioned by Levi himself. For the rest of his life he barely acknowledged that autumn in the Alps. But an obscure passage in Levi's The Periodic Table hints that his deportation…


Book cover of The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography

John Foot Author Of Calcio: A History of Italian Football

From my list on how sport and history cannot be separated.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and journalist. I lived in Italy for over twenty years, immersing myself in the culture of that country—in every form. I decided to write Calcio after becoming aware of the centrality of football to Italian culture and politics, and around the time of the rise of a football entrepreneur to political power—Silvio Berlusconi. The book took me three years, led me to visit numerous cities, stadiums, and regions, and interview dozens of journalists, experts, and players. It was a love letter and a warning—dedicated to ‘my father who loves football, and my son, who hates it.'

John's book list on how sport and history cannot be separated

John Foot Why did John love this book?

A masterful, brave, and melancholic study of a doomed sporting genius. This book is a perfect example of a classic sporting history genre, the biography, which touches on Italian culture, the importance of cycling, the pressure of the media, the conspiracy theories often employed by fans and journalists. A book that was crucial for my study of Italian cycling—and also influenced my book.

By Matt Rendell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Death of Marco Pantani as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The intimate biography of the charismatic Tour de France winner Marco Pantani, now updated to include the 2014 and 2015 investigation into Pantani's death.

National Sporting Club Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award

'An exhaustively detailed and beautiful book . . . a fitting, ambivalent tribute - to the man, and to the dark heart of the sport he loved' Independent

On Valentine's day 2004, Marco Pantani was found dead in a cheap hotel. It defied belief: Pantani, having won the rare double of the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de…


Book cover of A Bell for Adano

Joseph Guzzo Author Of Mousetrap, Inc.

From my list on inspired me to become a writer and my son a reader.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first job upon graduating from college was working for an invention-marketing firm. This wasn’t my intention; armed with a degree in journalism, I was ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, the country was enduring a recession, and after six months of unemployment, I was happy to be offered a copywriting position. So often during the two years I spent there, I would think to myself, “This could make such a great novel.” It took me a while—and with more than a few rejections along the way—but inspired by the writers and books I’ve included in my collection, I finally got around to penning my own tale.

Joseph's book list on inspired me to become a writer and my son a reader

Joseph Guzzo Why did Joseph love this book?

I was a senior in high school, and my English teacher gave us customized reading recommendations. He thought I might like this book. He had no idea. Though often a serious work—it’s set in World War II Italythis novel exudes charm like nothing I’d ever read. There are books, TV shows, plays, and movies that you may like or even love, but when they charm you? You never forget them. Also, there’s a minor character in the book who shares my last name. I returned the favor in my novel by giving my protagonist the last name Adano.

By John Hersey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Bell for Adano as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic novel and winner of the Pulitzer Prize tells the story of an Italian-American major in World War II who wins the love and admiration of the local townspeople when he searches for a replacement for the 700-year-old town bell that had been melted down for bullets by the fascists. Although stituated during one of the most devastating experiences in human history, John Hersey's story speaks with unflinching patriotism and humanity.


Book cover of The Path to the Spiders' Nests

Dominic Smith Author Of Return to Valetto

From my list on armchair travel through Italy and Italian history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve just spent the last few years writing Return to Valetto, about a nearly abandoned village in Umbria and the last ten people who live there. In 2018, I received an NEA grant to conduct research in Italy and I visited about a dozen abandoned and nearly abandoned towns all across Italy. While I was traveling, I immersed myself in books about Italy—from history and biography to memoir and fiction. The books on my list were stepping stones in my education about all things Italian and I hope you find them as transporting as I did!

Dominic's book list on armchair travel through Italy and Italian history

Dominic Smith Why did Dominic love this book?

This was Calvino’s first novel when he was just in his early twenties, and long before he became known for his explorations of fantasy, fable, and magical realism.

He tells the story of a cobbler’s apprentice in a Ligurian town who becomes involved with a band of partisans during WWII. This brotherhood, who take on assumed identities by day and fight for Italy’s freedom up in the mountains by night, provides a story of second family for the protagonist, Pin, as he comes of age during a tumultuous time.

I love how we see the flickerings of who Calvino will become as a writer with this early foray into realism.

By Italo Calvino,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Path to the Spiders' Nests as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Italo Calvino was only twenty-three when he first published this bold and imaginative novel. It tells the story of Pin, a cobbler's apprentice in a town on the Ligurian coast during World War II. He lives with his sister, a prostitute, and spends as much time as he can at a seedy bar where he amuses the adult patrons. After a mishap with a Nazi soldier, Pin becomes involved with a band of partisans. Calvino's portrayal of these characters, seen through the eyes of a child, is not only a revealing commentary on the Italian resistance but an insightful coming-of-age…


Book cover of The Venice Sketchbook

Lance Hawvermale Author Of The Beekeeper's Bullet

From my list on historical action and some occasional kissing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the son of a pacifist poet and a Marine veteran of Vietnam. Perhaps because of this contradiction, I’ve been unable to find any occupation satisfying outside of writing. I spent my formative years with imaginary friends I met in libraries. My love of faraway places, romance, and war continues to this day. I write stories of strangers meeting under bleak conditions and finding the strength in each other to win the day.

Lance's book list on historical action and some occasional kissing

Lance Hawvermale Why did Lance love this book?

If you like intrigue, then welcome to Venice in 1938. This novel features a likable heroine in search of the solution to a mystery contained in a sketchbook. It’s full of art—both real and metaphorical. Set against the backdrop of impending war, this one is full of courage and heart.

By Rhys Bowen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Venice Sketchbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Rhys Bowen crafts a propulsive, unexpected plot with characters who come vibrantly alive on the page." -Mark Sullivan, author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Love and secrets collide in Venice during WWII in an enthralling novel of brief encounters and lasting romance by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and Above the Bay of Angels.

Caroline Grant is struggling to accept the end of her marriage when she receives an unexpected bequest. Her beloved great-aunt Lettie leaves her a sketchbook, three keys, and a final whisper...Venice. Caroline's quest: to scatter Juliet "Lettie" Browning's ashes in the…


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Interested in Italy, the Holocaust, and presidential biography?

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