100 books like Under the Light of the Italian Moon

By Jennifer Anton,

Here are 100 books that Under the Light of the Italian Moon fans have personally recommended if you like Under the Light of the Italian Moon. 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 All the Light We Cannot See

Jill Wallace Author Of War Serenade

From my list on impossible odds and satisfying endings.

Why am I passionate about this?

My ultimate read is when the action is fast, but the character's discovery of self is slow. Besides, being engrossed in the challenges of others makes my own pale by comparison. The author needs to get me to empathize with the characters - even if their struggles are nothing like my own - and once they’ve done that, I’ll be in for the long haul! Journeying through life’s mire and finding the rainbow with a character you believe - and believe in - makes for the ultimate in vicarious living. And ‘Heck, YES’ to a satisfying ending!

Jill's book list on impossible odds and satisfying endings

Jill Wallace Why did Jill love this book?

This book, with its prose as poetry, made me want to read it again the minute I finished. To absorb Mr. Doerr’s majestic words was to be transformed into a little blind girl with the heart of a lion, the wit of a comic, the determination of a world leader. I became Marie-Laure LeBlanc and felt all the while sublimely grateful that I could see. And then I met Werner Flemming and wept for him. I understood him. I was deeply moved by him. 

I felt it was profoundly destined that these two should meet and fall in love, but my imagination carried me far into the future. I was surprised to find though I should have been disappointed, I was not. You see, this book made me realize that while many people touch our lives, some can change the course of our trajectory even by a single degree. And…

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

41 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…

Book cover of The Paris Library

Susan J. Godwin Author Of Rain Dodging: A Scholar's Romp through Britain in Search of a Stuart Queen

From my list on women spies and ‘lost libraries’ of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sadly, there is not one Jewish family in this world who does not have a connection to the Holocaust. I imagine that my pull towards World War II heroic women is become I am a Jewish woman. I have a passion for books and many of the characters in my choices share this passion. I also have a passion for Britain. France is not too shabby either; the Parisian setting in some of the books are descriptive and gripping.

Susan's book list on women spies and ‘lost libraries’ of World War II

Susan J. Godwin Why did Susan love this book?

Books and Paris, need I say more?

Based on the true story of the librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II, The Paris Library is “an ode to the importance of libraries, books, and the human connections we find within both,” writes author Kristin Harmel.

I gravitate towards books about bookstores, their coziness, their safety. The main character, Odile, reminds the reader that we all have bravery within. I gravitate to older women in my own life, the mother-figure I never had. As a mentor in Odile’s later life, I am heartened by the intergenerational relationship she nurtures.

By Janet Skeslien Charles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



'A wonderful novel celebrating the power of books and libraries to change people's lives' JILL MANSELL

'Heart-breaking and heart-lifting and always enchanting' RUTH HOGAN

'An irresistible and utterly compelling novel that will appeal to bibliophiles and historical fiction fans alike' SUNDAY EXPRESS

'I devoured The Paris Library in one hungry gulp . . . charming and moving' TATIANA DE ROSNAY

'An irresistible, compelling read' FIONA DAVIS

'Paris and libraries. What's not to love?!' NATASHA LESTER

'Compelling' WOMAN & HOME


Book cover of Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Lorenzo Petruzziello Author Of The Taste of Datura

From my list on books with underlying and self-made conflicts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write in my spare time, drawing inspiration from my frequent trips to Italy, dating back to my childhood summers. I am an indie writer of noir crime fiction with an interest in uncomfortable moments, especially those created by the main characters themselves. My list journeys across a vast array of genres, but they all have that tone of something happening in the shadows or underlying truths working to achieve an outcome or fight against adversity. I like unspoken dialogue and self-made conflicts, which are both elements included in all the stories I mention in this list. 

Lorenzo's book list on books with underlying and self-made conflicts

Lorenzo Petruzziello Why did Lorenzo love this book?

This book was recommended to me because it was set in Italy–specifically in Milan, where I spent some time years ago. It was interesting to learn about the region during the time of WWII and the tribulations that befallen the city and certain groups of people. In this story, the characters participate in a discreet fight against the force of fascism that took over their city.

Of course, I appreciated this fascinating story of this young man’s role. But what really remained with me was learning how the people worked together in the shadows to fight against evil.

By Mark Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Beneath a Scarlet Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man's incredible courage and resilience during one of history's darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He's a normal Italian teenager-obsessed with music, food, and girls-but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape…

Book cover of The Rose Code

Bruce Stachenfeld Author Of Faythe of North Hinkapee: The Saga of a Young Woman’s Quest for Justice and Love in Colonial America

From my list on irrepressible, exciting and heroic female lead characters that you will never forget.

Why am I passionate about this?

I made up Faythe of North Hinkapee by being a jerk! I was ranting about how bad a "best seller" book I had read was. My wife looked at me and said, "So, could you write a bestseller?" I was challenged, and then, somehow, this book just tumbled out. It was about a girl in Colonial Timesher family burned as witchesvowing vengeance and how she gets it. My wife looked at me and said: “My God, that could be a bestseller!’ My kids also loved the story. For about twenty years, I planned to write it, and after a ton of work, I finally finished.

Bruce's book list on irrepressible, exciting and heroic female lead characters that you will never forget

Bruce Stachenfeld Why did Bruce love this book?

I loved this book!

Three women, all different, all with amazing characters, decoding Nazi transmissions during WWII. I loved the women as their characters developed. And I admit I was chilled and fearful as to how it would turn out since the beginning (almost) tells you the end, but definitely not quite. So, I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Not a book I would want to start reading before a work deadline since I would probably be up all night and blow the deadline.

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Rose Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything-beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses-but she burns to…

Book cover of The Road to San Giovanni

Barney Norris Author Of Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

From my list on collage novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first novel Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain was a collage novel; an interweaving of several voices in order to create a composite portrait of the city of Salisbury, which told several stories as a way of revealing more of the life of that place. Since then I’ve written three more novels, all of them interested in the effects of using different voices to tell different parts of the story. I think that polyphony makes for great books, and these are four examples of that—different ways of weaving multiple tales together.

Barney's book list on collage novels

Barney Norris Why did Barney love this book?

Calvino, like Perec, was an experimental novelist, interested in imposing games and rules on what he created. Here, he took the convention of the short story collection and used it to dramatise the arrival of the twentieth century into rural Italy—the machine age, but also the fascist age, and the consuming fires of the Second World War. The incremental tension that comes from time passing is a powerful reading experience.

By Italo Calvino, Tim Parks (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Road to San Giovanni as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In five elegant autobiographical meditations Calvino delves into his past, remembering awkward childhood walks with his father, a lifelong obsession with the cinema and fighting in the Italian Resistance against the Fascists. He also muses on the social contracts, language and sensations associated with emptying the kitchen rubbish and the shape he would, if asked, consider the world. These reflections on the nature of memory itself are engaging, witty, and lit through with Calvino's alchemical brilliance.

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…

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 The Postcard from Italy

Anna Valencia Author Of The Chestnut House

From my list on transporting you to the magic of Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I may be English by birth, but my soul has always felt Italian! I have lived and worked in Italy for many years, first in Rome, then Milan, and finally Tuscany when we fell in love with an abandoned farmhouse. I wrote The Chestnut House while we were living in the mountains of the Garfagnana in northern Tuscany, inspired by the wartime stories our neighbours shared with us. For me Italy is the perfect country—great weather, food, wine, language, and culture! I love both reading about it, and writing about it. I hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have!

Anna's book list on transporting you to the magic of Italy

Anna Valencia Why did Anna love this book?

I have read several of Angela Petch’s excellent novels, all set in Tuscany. I lived in Tuscany for two years, and her descriptions not only of the countryside but also the characters that inhabit this special part of the world are spot on. This novel kept my interest, was well-plotted, and a real pleasure to read. Her research into the wartime period is well done, and I love the details about how people lived back then. It really is another world. How our modern world integrates with it, and what we can learn from it, is something I feel she explores really well, by introducing the past to the present through her characters. 

By Angela Petch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Italy, 1945. ‘Where am I?’ The young man wakes, bewildered. He sees olive trees against a bright blue sky. A soft voice soothes him. ‘We saw you fall from your plane. The parachute saved you.’ He remembers nothing of his life, or the war that has torn the world apart… but where does he belong?

England, present day. Antique-shop-owner Susannah wipes away a tear as she tidies her grandmother’s belongings. Elsie’s memories are fading, and every day Susannah feels further away from her only remaining family. But everything changes when she stumbles across a yellowed postcard of a beautiful Italian…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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