100 books like Christ Stopped at Eboli

By Carlo Levi, Frances Frenaye (translator),

Here are 100 books that Christ Stopped at Eboli fans have personally recommended if you like Christ Stopped at Eboli. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Golden Ass

Hal Johnson Author Of Apprentice Academy: Sorcerers: The Unofficial Guide to the Magical Arts

From my list on magic not to let your parents catch you reading.

Why am I passionate about this?

The only thing I love reading more than books about myth and legend are books you’re not supposed to read. George Bataille once wrote that if you ever caught him producing a book that he risked nothing to write, you should throw it away, and I take that to heart. Every book should be dangerous, because only danger makes you think. I hope every book I’ve written is, in some sense, dangerous, although of course I also hope my readers do not get ripped to pieces by the devil. That’s a little too dangerous. 

Hal's book list on magic not to let your parents catch you reading

Hal Johnson Why did Hal love this book?

Not necessarily the world’s first novel (the world’s first novel is probably lost) nor even the world’s first great novel (that would be Petronius’ Satyricon, which you should also not get caught reading), The Golden Ass is definitely the world’s first great novel that has survived through the centuries intact.

It’s the story of a man who tries just one time to dabble in magic and accidentally turns himself into a donkey. The poor guy has a bunch of adventures as he tries to figure out how to, you know, stop being a donkey.

That doesn’t sound so bad, but no one’s ever going to let you read a book with the title The Golden Ass. It just means the golden donkey! There’s nothing filthy about it! But no one will believe you!

By Apuleius, P.G. Walsh (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Golden Ass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written towards the end of the second century AD, The Golden Ass tells the story of the many adventures of a young man whose fascination with witchcraft leads him to be transformed into a donkey. The bewitched Lucius passes from owner to owner - encountering a desperate gang of robbers and being forced to perform lewd 'human' tricks on stage - until the Goddess Isis finally breaks the spell and Lucius is initiated into her cult. Apuleius' enchanting story has inspired generations of writers such as Boccaccio, Shakespeare, Cervantes and Keats with its dazzling combination of allegory, satire, bawdiness and…


Book cover of Survival in Auschwitz

Richard Zimler Author Of The Incandescent Threads

From my list on survivors of a horrific trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m originally from New York but have lived in Portugal for the last 33 years. I write my novels in English and my children’s books in Portuguese. As anyone who reads my latest novel will discover, I have been greatly influenced the mythology and mystical traditions of various religions, especially Judaism (kabbalah). Happily, I discovered early on that I adore writing about people who have been systematically persecuted and silenced. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to explore taboo subjects and topics that others would prefer to forget or conceal. When I’m not working on a book, I like to garden and travel. 

Richard's book list on survivors of a horrific trauma

Richard Zimler Why did Richard love this book?

Almost all the survivors of the Holocaust have now died, which makes it more important than ever that we pass on knowledge about this incomparably brutal crime against humanity – and do our best to prevent future genocides.

Survival in Auschwitz is a highly detailed, profoundly disturbing, and, in the end, intensely moving account of Italian chemist Primo Levi’s eleven months in the most notorious of the Nazi death camps, Auschwitz.

If you wish to understand what the Holocaust meant to its victims – and how the prisoners did their heroic best to resist dehumanization, hopelessness, and death – you would do well to start with this important work.  

By Primo Levi,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Survival in Auschwitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The true and harrowing account of Primo Levi’s experience at the German concentration camp of Auschwitz and his miraculous survival; hailed by The Times Literary Supplement as a “true work of art, this edition includes an exclusive conversation between the author and Philip Roth.

In 1943, Primo Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist and “Italian citizen of Jewish race,” was arrested by Italian fascists and deported from his native Turin to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz is Levi’s classic account of his ten months in the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miraculous endurance. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint,…


Book cover of The Italians

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?

In many ways, this sort of book has gone out of style since it was published in the 1960s.

It’s an opinionated and ambitious portrayal of the Italian psyche and culture. Barzini looks at his fellow Italians with a dispassionate eye and a healthy sense of irreverence, uncovering their foibles, hidden beliefs, superstitions, and great strengths as a culture.

For me, Italy is an eternal paradox. Just when you think you’ve worked it out, something happens that makes you do a double-take. This book helps you understand that paradox has been part of Italy’s identity since the very beginning.

By Luigi Barzini,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this consummate portrait of the Italian people, bestselling author, publisher, journalist, and politician Luigi Barzini delves deeply into the Italian national character, discovering both its great qualities and its imperfections.

Barzini is startlingly frank as he examines “the two Italies”: the one that created and nurtured such luminaries as Dante Alighieri, St. Thomas of Aquino, and Leonardo da Vinci; the other, feeble and prone to catastrophe, backward in political action if not in thought, “invaded, ravaged, sacked, and humiliated in every century.” Deeply ambivalent, Barzini approaches his task with a combination of love, hate, disillusion, and affectionate paternalism, resulting…


Book cover of Family Lexicon

Tim Parks Author Of An Italian Education: The Further Adventures of an Expatriate in Verona

From my list on understanding the Italian mindset.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tim Parks moved to Italy in 1981 and is still there today. He has written five bestselling books about the country, brought up three splendid Italian children and translated some of the country’s best-loved authors. There cannot be many foreigners more familiar with the country, its literature, its history and its people.

Tim's book list on understanding the Italian mindset

Tim Parks Why did Tim love this book?

Among the greatest family memoirs of all time. Novelist, Natalia Ginzburg (née Levi) grew up in a big family in Turin between the wars. Her Jewish father was a famous and famously irascible scientist, her mother a charmer from the well-to-do bourgeoisie. The last of five, Natalia gives a sparkling picture of the loves, friendships and conflicts between her older brothers and sisters as Fascist Italy drifted toward war. Impossible not to laugh and cry, while at the same time getting a sense of the deeper forces driving Italian life.

By Natalia Ginzburg, Jenny McPhee (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Family Lexicon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A masterpiece of European literature that blends family memoir and fiction

An Italian family, sizable, with its routines and rituals, crazes, pet phrases, and stories, doubtful, comical, indispensable, comes to life in the pages of Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Lexicon. Giuseppe Levi, the father, is a scientist, consumed by his work and a mania for hiking—when he isn’t provoked into angry remonstration by someone misspeaking or misbehaving or wearing the wrong thing. Giuseppe is Jewish, married to Lidia, a Catholic, though neither is religious; they live in the industrial city of Turin where, as the years pass, their children find ways…


Book cover of Sea and Sardinia

Tim Parks Author Of An Italian Education: The Further Adventures of an Expatriate in Verona

From my list on understanding the Italian mindset.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tim Parks moved to Italy in 1981 and is still there today. He has written five bestselling books about the country, brought up three splendid Italian children and translated some of the country’s best-loved authors. There cannot be many foreigners more familiar with the country, its literature, its history and its people.

Tim's book list on understanding the Italian mindset

Tim Parks Why did Tim love this book?

“COMES over one an absolute necessity to move.” Has there ever been a more appropriate opening line to any travel book? D H Lawrence moved to Sicily right after the First World War and from there got the itch to board a ship and visit Sardinia to the north with his wife Frida. He was hoping to find a primitive, pre-modern society, where men were men and women were women. He did indeed find them and was appalled. But delighted too. It’s hard to think of a book with more fun in it, more self-mockery, more pathos, and more poetry. Not to mention the descriptions of Sardinia. To die for.

By D.H. Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sea and Sardinia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sea and Sardinia By D. H. Lawrence


Book cover of The Prince

Keith Grint Author Of Leadership: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on understanding why we get the leaders we do.

Why am I passionate about this?

There’s something about leadership that intrigues me. I was an army child and that might help explain why I was expelled from school and had a rather unorthodox pre-academic career: I had fourteen jobs in nine years between leaving school and starting university, and several of those involved significant leadership roles that clashed with managerial authority. Both my undergraduate degrees and my doctorate were focused on trying to understand how authority worked, so it was almost inevitable that I ended up as a leadership scholar. But my greatest achievements have been co-founding the journal Leadership in 2005 and its related International Studying Leadership Conference, now in its 20th year.

Keith's book list on understanding why we get the leaders we do

Keith Grint Why did Keith love this book?

Machiavelli is often despised as the man who promoted both authoritarian leaders and the notion that the ends justify the means, but this is to misunderstand the importance of the context within which he was writing: 16th century Florence – which was besieged by enemies on every side who proclaimed adherence to the Christian faith but acted as monsters. Machiavelli’s writing made two things clear to me. First, leaders and leadership cannot be understood if you abstract them from their context – when political morality is a contradiction in terms then leaders must be wary of sacrificing their followers for the sake of that same fallacious morality. Second, he lays out how dictators obtain and retain power – and in doing so establishes what we need to do to stop them or remove them. 

By Niccolò Machiavelli, Tim Parks (translator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is the world's most famous master plan for seizing and holding power.  Astonishing in its candor The Prince even today remains a disturbingly realistic and prophetic work on what it takes to be a prince . . . a king . . . a president.  When, in 1512, Machiavelli was removed from his post in his beloved Florence, he resolved to set down a treatise on leadership that was practical, not idealistic.  In The Prince he envisioned would be unencumbered by ordinary ethical and moral values; his prince would be man and beast, fox and lion.  Today, this small…


Book cover of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: Three Tenant Families

Roland Merullo Author Of Dessert with Buddha

From my list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twenty novels tend to focus on characters who face great challenges, and I have a particular appreciation for beautiful prose. I don’t read for distraction or entertainment, but to be enlightened, moved, and made more compassionate about different kinds of people in different environments.

Roland's book list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction

Roland Merullo Why did Roland love this book?

This is the story of a highly educated writer living with the poorest of the poor in the U.S. Agee was sent to live with Alabama sharecroppers during the Depression. His assignment was to write about them for a magazine, but he ended up making it into a magnificent memoir (Jimmy Carter’s favorite memoir) that is often paired with Walker Evans’ photos. They lived and worked as a team.

Agee is a well-educated, well-off writer, but manages to describe the lives of the poorest of the poor with great respect, artistic originality, and sincerity, and to give us a full, if painful, understanding of the lives of people who could not afford shoes and were worked to the bone by the landowners.

It’s a deeply spiritual work, artistically original in structure and language, a long, slow, magnificent read that has touched me deeply each time I’ve read it.

By James Agee, Walker Evans,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Let Us Now Praise Famous Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1936, Agee and Evans set out on assignement for Fortune magazine to explore the daily lives of sharecroppers in the South. Their journey would prove an extraordinary collaboration and a watershed literary event when in 1941 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was first published to enourmous critical acclaim. This unspairing record of place, of the people who shaped the land, and of the rhythm of their lives today stands as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century.


Book cover of Siciliana: Studies on the Sicilian Ethos and Literature

Joseph L. Cacibauda Author Of Not for Self: A Sicilian Life and Death in Marion

From my list on Sicilian Italian history and the people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in New Orleans around Cajun French and Italians. My father spoke Cajun French, English, and Sicilian. I grew up thinking his Sicilian was Italian mixed with Cajun French. We considered ourselves Italian, never aware that my grandparents, paternal and maternal, emigrated from Sicily and were born just after Sicily became part of Italy (1861). Knowing nothing of Sicily, including the Sicilian spelling of my own surname and my father’s Sicilian first name, I used the computer to contact distant relatives in Sicily, discover records online, and eventually visited Sicily to find actual documents. My research led to my passion and my first book, After Laughing Comes Crying.

Joseph's book list on Sicilian Italian history and the people

Joseph L. Cacibauda Why did Joseph love this book?

Dr. Gaetano Cipolla is the retired head of the Foreign Language Department at St. John’s University, New York. He has spent his academic career researching and writing about the Sicilian culture and its people in order to counteract the stereotypical image of Sicilians and Italians as primarily spaghetti eaters and mafia. Dr. Cipolla understands the many dialects of the Sicilian language and, through his writings, has reclaimed the literary greatness of forgotten Sicilian writers by translating their poetry and other works. To overcome the pending extinction of Sicilian, he has written and developed a two-part course that teaches the language. His course is steadily being adopted in a number of universities

By Gaetano Cipolla,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Siciliana as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is revised and expanded edition of Sicilian: Studies on the Sicilian Ethos. It contains 4 new chapters and a new index of names. Eight chapters are devoted to the characteristics of Sicilians, their history, and their culture. The other 8 are devoted to the literature produced by writers and poets of Sicily, including Veneziano, Meli, Martoglio, Pirandello and Camilleri.


Book cover of A Hidden Sicilian History

Joseph L. Cacibauda Author Of Not for Self: A Sicilian Life and Death in Marion

From my list on Sicilian Italian history and the people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in New Orleans around Cajun French and Italians. My father spoke Cajun French, English, and Sicilian. I grew up thinking his Sicilian was Italian mixed with Cajun French. We considered ourselves Italian, never aware that my grandparents, paternal and maternal, emigrated from Sicily and were born just after Sicily became part of Italy (1861). Knowing nothing of Sicily, including the Sicilian spelling of my own surname and my father’s Sicilian first name, I used the computer to contact distant relatives in Sicily, discover records online, and eventually visited Sicily to find actual documents. My research led to my passion and my first book, After Laughing Comes Crying.

Joseph's book list on Sicilian Italian history and the people

Joseph L. Cacibauda Why did Joseph love this book?

Ettore Grillo is a retired criminal attorney from Enna, Sicily, who spends his time writing and traveling. This is the second edition of his first book. I am drawn to historical fiction and creative fiction writing. They are wonderfully entertaining ways to learn about cultures and history within the story’s setting and plot. Grillo teaches about life in Enna, Sicily including the feasts, the traditions, and the people who are held together by customs while trying to solve a family mystery. 

By Ettore Grillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Hidden Sicilian History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is there life after death? A Hidden Sicilian History: Second Edition presents an intriguing and easy-to-read historical novel that starts with the investigation of a mysterious death.

While doing research in the public library in Enna, Sicily, a young man notices an ancient scroll has drifted from a shelf onto the floor. It appears to have slipped from a gap between two volumes about the Spanish Inquisition.

Though he expects it to be related to life in Sicily at the time of Spanish rule, instead the handwritten scroll reports a singular drama that was performed on the stage of the…


Book cover of Ameri-Sicula: Sicilian Culture in America

Joseph L. Cacibauda Author Of Not for Self: A Sicilian Life and Death in Marion

From my list on Sicilian Italian history and the people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in New Orleans around Cajun French and Italians. My father spoke Cajun French, English, and Sicilian. I grew up thinking his Sicilian was Italian mixed with Cajun French. We considered ourselves Italian, never aware that my grandparents, paternal and maternal, emigrated from Sicily and were born just after Sicily became part of Italy (1861). Knowing nothing of Sicily, including the Sicilian spelling of my own surname and my father’s Sicilian first name, I used the computer to contact distant relatives in Sicily, discover records online, and eventually visited Sicily to find actual documents. My research led to my passion and my first book, After Laughing Comes Crying.

Joseph's book list on Sicilian Italian history and the people

Joseph L. Cacibauda Why did Joseph love this book?

Mark Hehl gathered a bunch of Sicilian American writers to contribute pieces about their remembrances of their grandparents, those 1st or 2nd waves of immigrants that came to this country. American readers can relate better to the settings of Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Boston, and New Orleans than to the small Sicilian villages like Bisacquino, Sant’Anna, Chiusa Sclafani, the towns from which many immigrants embarked, and the towns from which these customs were carried into American cities.

By Mark Hehl (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ameri-Sicula as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The volume is a collaborative effort by twenty-eight talented writers to describe their Sicilian culture while living in the United States. Each contributor offers interesting personal insights in what it meant for him/her to grow up in a Sicilian environment while navigating through the difficulties posed by the encounter with the American way of life.


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