100 books like Ciao, America! An Italian Discovers the U.S.

By Beppe Severgnini,

Here are 100 books that Ciao, America! An Italian Discovers the U.S. fans have personally recommended if you like Ciao, America! An Italian Discovers the U.S.. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Jim Landwehr Author Of Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir

From my list on the trials and joys of outdoor adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a lover of all things outdoors since I was a boy. After my father was killed at a young age, my brothers and I took his love for outdoor adventure and made it our own. Fully aware of all that can go wrong, my brothers and I went into our ventures with a keen sense of humor. Camping, fishing, and kayaking all come with their own challenges and requisite hilarious moments. It is these moments of adversity, and personal risk, that are sometimes lightened by a good dose of laughter and levity.

Jim's book list on the trials and joys of outdoor adventure

Jim Landwehr Why did Jim love this book?

Much like A Walk in the Woods, Wild takes an ordinary person and puts them in an extremely challenging environment only to show they were unprepared for the rigors of the great outdoors.

Strayed has a similar goal to Bryson, but chooses the Pacific Crest Trail. The hike is an attempt at self-discovery as well as to challenge herself after experiencing various addictions and the loss of her mother. Strayed’s motives are not unlike those of my brothers and I as we ventured into the BWCAW while navigating our young lives as twenty-somethings.

By Cheryl Strayed,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the…


Book cover of Under the Tuscan Sun

Susan Pohlman Author Of Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home

From my list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the transformational power of travel ever since my husband and I unexpectedly signed a lease to an apartment on the Italian Riviera instead of divorce papers. The power of that year abroad saved our marriage, united our family of four in a sacred way, and introduced us to the many cultures of Europe. I learned the crucial difference between taking a trip and embarking on a journey. Capturing a travel experience on the page for those who can’t journey to a destination themselves is a joy and a privilege I don’t take lightly. Publishing this memoir allowed me to pivot in my career to a full-time writer and writing coach/editor.

Susan's book list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel

Susan Pohlman Why did Susan love this book?

I remember seeing this book for the first time on my mother’s bedside table.

As a mother of six children (five boys and a girl—me), I strongly suspect she dreamed of escape from time to time. A mother now myself, I understand feelings of overwhelm.

When I read this book back in the late ‘90s I saw a woman brave enough to step into her dreams and create a beautiful and sensuous life. It was bold, and it allowed me to dream of a bigger life. It made me curious if I could ever do such a thing.

Read the story of how she and her husband transformed an old villa as well as their lives!

By Frances Mayes,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Under the Tuscan Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the New York Times bestseller that inspired the film. The perfect read for anyone seeking an escape to the Italian countryside.

When Frances Mayes - poet, gourmet cook and travel writer - buys an abandoned villa in Tuscany, she has no idea of the scale of the project she is embarking on.

In this enchanting memoir she takes the reader on a journey to restore a crumbling villa and build a new life in the Italian countryside, navigating hilarious cultural misunderstandings, legal frustrations and the challenges of renovating a house that seems determined to remain a ruin.

Filled with…


Book cover of A House in the Sky

Susan Pohlman Author Of Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home

From my list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the transformational power of travel ever since my husband and I unexpectedly signed a lease to an apartment on the Italian Riviera instead of divorce papers. The power of that year abroad saved our marriage, united our family of four in a sacred way, and introduced us to the many cultures of Europe. I learned the crucial difference between taking a trip and embarking on a journey. Capturing a travel experience on the page for those who can’t journey to a destination themselves is a joy and a privilege I don’t take lightly. Publishing this memoir allowed me to pivot in my career to a full-time writer and writing coach/editor.

Susan's book list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel

Susan Pohlman Why did Susan love this book?

There have been only a handful of books that I have been unable to put down.

This memoir is one of them. In 2008, Amanda Lindhout began her career as a reporter by traveling to Somalia. On her fourth day, she and another journalist were abducted and held for ransom.

She recounts her harrowing experience in captivity (460 days) in vivid, and heart-wrenching detail. When she is most desperate, she travels in her mind to A House in the Sky enabling her to block out her dire circumstances and let in a ray of hope.

This is a true story you will never forget.

By Amanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A House in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BREAKING NEWS: Amanda Lindhout’s lead kidnapper, Ali Omar Ader, has been caught.

Amanda Lindhout wrote about her fifteen month abduction in Somalia in A House in the Sky. It is the New York Times bestselling memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most remote places and then into captivity: “Exquisitely told…A young woman’s harrowing coming-of-age story and an extraordinary narrative of forgiveness and spiritual triumph” (The New York Times Book Review).

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself visiting its exotic locales. At the…


Book cover of The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World.

Susan Pohlman Author Of Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home

From my list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the transformational power of travel ever since my husband and I unexpectedly signed a lease to an apartment on the Italian Riviera instead of divorce papers. The power of that year abroad saved our marriage, united our family of four in a sacred way, and introduced us to the many cultures of Europe. I learned the crucial difference between taking a trip and embarking on a journey. Capturing a travel experience on the page for those who can’t journey to a destination themselves is a joy and a privilege I don’t take lightly. Publishing this memoir allowed me to pivot in my career to a full-time writer and writing coach/editor.

Susan's book list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel

Susan Pohlman Why did Susan love this book?

This is just plain fun and inspiring to read!

Three friends, each on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, make a pact to quit their high-pressure New York City media jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the world.

From the first chapter when they were invited to dance with the Maasai in Kenya, I was swept along with them for an unforgettable journey!

By Jennifer Baggett, Holly C Corbett, Amanda Pressner

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A triumphant journey about losing yourself, finding yourself and coming home again. Hitch yourself to their ride: you’ll embark on a transformative journey of your own.”  — Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of The One That I Want and Time of My Life

Three friends, each on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, make a pact to quit their high pressure New York City media jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the world in The Lost Girls.

With their thirtieth birthdays looming, Jen, Holly, and…


Book cover of The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo

Kimberly Nixon Author Of Rock Bottom, Tennessee

From my list on books based on a true story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for the family story, and I have been blessed with a plethora of them. My mother grew up in Appalachia during the Great Depression and faced shame because her mother left the family to commit a felony. Her accounts of a childhood without and sleeping in an abandoned log cabin have been seared into my soul. My father, one of fourteen children during the Great Depression, worked on neighboring farms from the age of seven. History has two parts, the facts and details, but the telling of the story wrangles the purpose and sacrifice of those involved.

Kimberly's book list on books based on a true story

Kimberly Nixon Why did Kimberly love this book?

After a trip to Florence to see Michelangelo’s earlier works and then David, I struggled to understand the genius, his intense pursuit of excellence, and how his surroundings influenced his art.

The author set me in one of the most fascinating eras of history and made me feel as if I were an apprentice in Michelangelo’s shop. I wept to comprehend the artist and realized that perfection was not a choice for Michelangelo, but a non-negotiable burden.

As I now observe genius in a musician, a scientist, or a mother caring for an autistic child, I give credence to what I learned from Oliver Stone’s portrayal of Michelangelo.

By Irving Stone,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Agony and the Ecstasy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Irving Stone's classic biographical novel of Michelangelo-the #1 New York Times bestseller in which both the artist and the man are brought to vivid, captivating life.

His time-the turbulent Renaissance, the years of poisoning princes, warring Popes, and the all-powerful de'Medici family...

His loves-the frail and lovely daughter of Lorenzo de'Medici, the ardent mistress of Marco Aldovrandi, and his last love, his greatest love-the beautiful, unhappy Vittoria Colonna...

His genius-a God-driven fury from which he wrested brilliant work that made a grasp for heaven unmatched in half a millennium...

His name-Michelangelo Buonarroti. Creator of the David, painter of the ceiling…


Book cover of Cosmicomics

Michael Sussman Author Of Incognolio

From my list on absurdist humor.

Why am I passionate about this?

I craved attention as a child, and often used humor to get it. I also loved to read. As I aged, I was increasingly struck by the absurdity of the human condition and was drawn to stories that dealt with the ridiculous, nonsensical, and incongruous sides of life. Prone to depression and fascinated by Freud, I became a clinical psychologist, only to discover that my colleagues were as emotionally disturbed as I was! I even wrote a book about it, titled A Curious Calling: Unconscious Motivations for Practicing Psychotherapy. So, when I turned to writing fiction—Otto Grows Down, Duckworth: The Difficult Child, and Incognolio—I reveled in the absurd.

Michael's book list on absurdist humor

Michael Sussman Why did Michael love this book?

Calvino’s Cosmicomics is perhaps the funniest and most outlandish collections of short stories I’ve ever come across. Think Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time meets Alice in Wonderland. Starting with the Big Bang and charting the entire evolution of the universe and of life on Earth, Calvino’s narrator shape-shifts from a man, to a dinosaur, to a mollusk, a single-cell organism, a subatomic particle, and even a disembodied being. In this linked collection of modern fairy tales, the author displays wild flights of imagination, combining scientific rigor with an uproarious repudiation of logic. Oh, and the narrator’s name is Qfwfq.

By Italo Calvino, William Weaver (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Introducing Little Clothbound Classics: irresistible, mini editions of short stories, novellas and essays from the world's greatest writers, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith.

Celebrating the range and diversity of Penguin Classics, they take us from snowy Japan to springtime Vienna, from haunted New England to a sun-drenched Mediterranean island, and from a game of chess on the ocean to a love story on the moon. Beautifully designed and printed, these collectible editions are bound in colourful, tactile cloth and stamped with foil.

Twelve enchanting and fantastical stories about the evolution of the universe from the giant of Italian literature,…


Book cover of Police Power in the Italian Communes, 1228-1326

Jill Leovy Author Of Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America

From my list on escaping the true-crime rut.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jill Leovy, author of Ghettoside, is a journalist and independent researcher who covered the Los Angeles Police Department and homicide for fifteen years, and who is currently working on a book dealing with murder and feud in human history. She has covered hundreds of street homicides and shadowed patrol cops, and she spent several years embedded in homicide detective units. More recently, she has been a Harvard sociology fellow and a featured speaker on Homer and violence at St. John's College, New Mexico. She is a senior fellow at the USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.

Jill's book list on escaping the true-crime rut

Jill Leovy Why did Jill love this book?

This is a much-needed antidote to the navel-gazing tendencies of American criminal justice thought.

Reading contemporary treatments, you might almost be fooled into thinking that certain types of police controversies have a specifically American – or at least modern origin. They don't. In fact, the peculiar challenges of policing and its inevitable discontents might even be universal.

Certainly, they were present at an early stage in medieval Italy, long before the first English "bobbies" ever dawned a uniform. Use-of-force controversies, weapons prohibitions, reluctant witnesses, hostile crowds, simmering beefs among local gangsters: it's all here. Roberts' medieval world so eerily resembles our own when it comes to law enforcement that one ends up surprised to encounter any differences at all.

Here's one, though: medieval town dwellers did not have cell phones with which to film the cops misdeeds. Instead, they hollered for notaries to scribble records on the spot.

By Gregory Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Police Power in the Italian Communes, 1228-1326 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Medieval states are widely assumed to have lacked police forces. Yet in the Italian city-republics, soldiers patrolled the streets daily in search of lawbreakers. Police Power in the Italian Communes, 1228-1326 is the first book to examine the emergence of urban policing in medieval Italy and its impact on city life. Focusing on Bologna in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, Gregory Roberts shows how police forces gave teeth to the communes' many statutes through a range of patrol activities. Whether seeking outlaws in the countryside or nighttime serenaders in the streets, urban police forces pursued lawbreakers energetically and effectively.…


Book cover of Verdura: Vegetables Italian Style

Mary Taylor Simeti Author Of Sicilian Summer: An Adventure in Cooking with my Grandsons

From my list on food catering to the plate, the eye, and the mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an American living and cooking in Sicily for almost sixty years, I have soaked up Sicilian cuisine and culture both through research and by osmosis, delighting in discovering how the food I was preparing reflected the island’s position in history and geography, a meeting point for almost all the civilizations of the Mediterranean. My first book, a memoir of my life here entitled On Persephone’s Island, was followed by Pomp and Sustenance. Twenty-five Centuries of Sicilian Food, the first book on Sicilian cuisine to be published in English. Six more books on different aspects of Sicilian food and culture, in English or in Italian, have followed.

Mary's book list on food catering to the plate, the eye, and the mind

Mary Taylor Simeti Why did Mary love this book?

I am apt to come back to the kitchen from the garden or the farmers’ market with a large bag of irresistible vegetables that I have no idea what I’m going to do with. More often than not I turn to Viana La Place’s book for a simple and satisfying recipe that uses Italian ingredients with a touch of California thrown in.

By Viana LA Place,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fresh ingredients and ease of preparation characterize the recipes for every course of Italian food, from the antipasta to pasta and risotto, from soups and stews to sandwiches, and from main dishes to salads. With recipes for bruschetta topped with roasted tomatoes and country stews fragrant with saffron and rosemary, to tantalizing puddings, this book covers the full range of Italian cookery.


Book cover of The Days of Abandonment

Nina Schuyler Author Of The Translator

From my list on iconoclastic women.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was 12, I was given The Book of Questions by Neruda Pablo. “Tell me, is the rose naked or is that her only dress?” It was the perfect book for me, with an abundance of questions. As I got older, the questions turned more serious: what are these forces restricting women to a narrow strip of being? To a slim wedge of psychological existence? How did the definition of female pare down to only a fistful of traits—nurturing, accommodating, object of desire, etc.? I’ve found solace in books, with fully dimensional female characters who refuse society’s common assumptions. It’s these females I try to create in my work. 

Nina's book list on iconoclastic women

Nina Schuyler Why did Nina love this book?

I’d recommend any one of the novels by Elena Ferrante, a writer who depicts with nuance and complexity her female characters’ psychology, as it’s impacted by the forces of society, family, motherhood, wifedom, work, economics, and politics. The Days of Abandonment is one of her earlier novels about a woman whose husband leaves her for a younger woman after 15 years of marriage. A common story, unfortunately, but what isn’t common is the brutally honest depiction of rage, sorrow, depression, loss of self, and the slow evolution of a new life and a new self. 

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the New York Times–bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend, this novel of a deserted wife’s descent into despair―and rage―is “a masterpiece” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

The Days of Abandonment is the gripping story of an Italian woman’s experiences after being suddenly left by her husband after fifteen years of marriage. With two young children to care for, Olga finds it more and more difficult to do the things she used to: keep a spotless house, cook meals with creativity and passion, refrain from using obscenities. After running into her husband with his much-younger new lover in public, she cannot even…


Book cover of The Italian Renaissance and the Origins of the Modern Humanities: An Intellectual History, 1400-1800

Herman Paul Author Of Writing the History of the Humanities

From my list on the history of the humanities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my career as a historian of historiography and now hold a chair in the history of the humanities at Leiden University. What I like about this field is its comparative agenda. How does art history relate to media studies, and what do Arabists have in common with musicologists? Even more intriguing, as far as I’m concerned, is the question of what holds the humanities together. I think that history can help us understand how the humanities have developed as they have, differently in different parts of the world. As the field called history of the humanities has only recently emerged, there is plenty of work to do!

Herman's book list on the history of the humanities

Herman Paul Why did Herman love this book?

Whether or not one wants to make a case for the modern humanities deriving from the studia humanitatis in Renaissance Italy, it is undeniable that Renaissance humanism has been a source of endless fascination for humanities scholars. I enjoyed this book partly because it shows how this fascination led seventeenth- and eighteenth-century scholars to “recapitulate practices and mentalities that Italian Renaissance humanists pioneered.” It is such borrowing and reapplying that explains how a “humanistic tradition” could take shape. Another intriguing point is Celenza’s argument that this tradition has historically revolved as much around wisdom as about knowledge. While we modern academics know very well how to produce knowledge, what has happened to the wisdom part? Can the humanities survive, Celenza asks, without “reflection on the self and on life”?

By Christopher S. Celenza,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Italian Renaissance and the Origins of the Modern Humanities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Christopher Celenza is one of the foremost contemporary scholars of the Renaissance. His ambitious new book focuses on the body of knowledge which we now call the humanities, charting its roots in the Italian Renaissance and exploring its development up to the Enlightenment. Beginning in the fifteenth century, the author shows how thinkers like Lorenzo Valla and Angelo Poliziano developed innovative ways to read texts closely, paying attention to historical context, developing methods to determine a text's authenticity, and taking the humanities seriously as a means of bettering human life. Alongside such novel reading practices, technology - the invention of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Italy, Rome, and Venice?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Italy, Rome, and Venice.

Italy Explore 384 books about Italy
Rome Explore 321 books about Rome
Venice Explore 69 books about Venice