The most recommended books about Naples Italy

Who picked these books? Meet our 25 experts.

25 authors created a book list connected to Naples Italy, and here are their favorite Naples Italy books.
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Book cover of The Coin of Carthage

Theodore Irvin Silar Author Of Ashes I: A Novel of the Poor of Ancient Rome

From my list on fiction set in ancient Rome.

Who am I?

Ever since I spent a day wandering the Roman forum, imagining Caesar’s funeral at the site of his pyre, standing on the Palatine imagining living in palatial Palatine splendor, and looking down on Senators, plebeians, public baths, the Colisseum, temples, statues, basilicae, patricians, slaves, street vendors, centurions, courtesans, ladies, gladiators, urchins, schoolboys, pickpockets, and priests, I knew I wanted to write about it. I have done intensive research, with skills honed earning a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University (specialty: literary-historical). I seek out literary historical novels, novels with distinctive style, artful plotting, engaging characterization, and historical fidelity. 

Theodore's book list on fiction set in ancient Rome

Theodore Irvin Silar Why did Theodore love this book?

Bryher's historical novels, once acclaimed, are out of print. I think Bryher deserves re-discovery. I like how The Coin of Carthage, set during ancient Rome’s war against Carthage, concerns everyday people: traders, farmers, common soldiers. And no Rome. Rome is a glimpse from a hill. I like this ̶ a true peasant’s sense of distance, where very near is still far. We follow the workaday lives of Italian-Greek traders Zonas and Dasius, from Naples docks to Carthage streets, to bucolic Tivoli, farms, markets, courtyards, piers, ships, mule-trains. Setting Italia, characters commoners, heroes Italian-Greeks, the periphery, usually silenced, is given voice. A curiously moving book.

By Winifred Bryher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Coin of Carthage (Harvest/HBJ Book)


Book cover of Naples '44: A World War II Diary of Occupied Italy

Peter Chapman Author Of Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World

From my list on telling stories from real life.

Who am I?

Fact is often more fascinating than fiction, and on occasions, a lot weirder too. As someone, London-based though lucky to have travelled extensively in Europe since childhood (my mother was keen to visit places where my father had been stationed in the Second World War) and more recently as a journalist (for The Financial Times, BBC, The Guardian, and others) in the Americas, Asia, and Africa, I have always been attracted to stories that strongly convey senses of time, place and the people you just happen to meet.

Peter's book list on telling stories from real life

Peter Chapman Why did Peter love this book?

Lewis was a British intelligence officer during the Allied forces' northward advance through Italy during the second world war. His stay in and around Naples enabled him not only to witness the 1944 eruption of Vesuvius, but also to appreciate the struggles to survive and graciousness of the local people. Lewis concludes that if he were to be offered a second life on earth he would want to come back as Italian.

By Norman Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Naples '44 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a young intelligence officer stationed in Naples following its liberation from Nazi forces, Norman Lewis recorded the lives of a proud and vibrant people forced to survive on prostitution, thievery, and a desperate belief in miracles and cures. The most popular of Lewis's twenty-seven books, Naples'44 is a landmark poetic study of the agony of wartime occupation and its ability to bring out the worst, and often the best, in human nature. In prose both heartrending and comic, Lewis describes an era of disillusionment, escapism, and hysteria in which the Allied occupiers mete out justice unfairly and fail to…


Book cover of The Story of a New Name

Laura Catherine Brown Author Of Made by Mary

From Laura's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Storyteller Comics maker Obsessive reader Artist

Laura's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Laura Catherine Brown Why did Laura love this book?

I don’t know why I stopped reading this quartet of novels after the first one, My Brilliant Friend, which I loved.

Maybe it was the hype? A few years later, I finally picked up Book Two of the Neapolitan Novels and could NOT put it down.

The breadth and depth of the world of Naples in the 1960s-70s, the violence, the patriarchy, and the deep and conflicted friendship between Lila and Elena, who need and hate and love each other, is impossible to summarize. In this story, Lila gets married, and Elena pursues her education—but so much more!

Sheer life is portrayed with such force that my lived experience pales in comparison. Suffice it to say, I did not take a hiatus after finishing this book, and I moved immediately on to the next one and the last one. Now, I want to reread them all.

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

OVER 14M OF THE NEAPOLITAN QUARTET SOLD WORLDWIDE

The Story of a New Name, the second book of the Neapolitan Quartet, picks up the story where My Brilliant Friend left off.


Lila has recently married and made her entree into the family business; Elena, meanwhile, continues her studies and her exploration of the world beyond the neighbourhood that she so often finds stifling. Love, jealousy, family, freedom, commitment, and above all friendship: these are signs under which both women live out this phase in their stories. Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila, and the pressure to excel is at times…


Book cover of The Lying Life of Adults

Daisy Alpert Florin Author Of My Last Innocent Year

From my list on the pain of growing up.

Who am I?

My Last Innocent Year is about a young woman losing innocence and gaining wisdom (the flip side of the coin) as she does the hard and necessary work of becoming herself. As Isabel navigates the transition from child to adult, she discovers that adults are, in fact, as lost and confused as she is. The books I have chosen are ones that explore the sometime (often) painful process of growing up and the joy that comes from learning that our voice matters. As the mother of three teenagers, I feel I’m witnessing this transition in real time.

Daisy's book list on the pain of growing up

Daisy Alpert Florin Why did Daisy love this book?

You don’t need me to recommend Ferrante, but I will anyway.

A ferocious story about the pain of leaving childhood behind, Ferrante tells the story of Giovanna, a sheltered only child whose life changes when she overhears her father compare her to his sister Vittoria, from whom he is estranged: “She’s getting the face of Vittoria.”

With that, Giovanna is thrown into an existential crisis that leads her to connect with her mysterious aunt, the dark side of Ferrante’s beloved Naples as well as herself. 

Ferrante understands the cruelty of women better than anyone and creates drama with the subtlest glance or turn of phrase.

Here she is at the height of her power, weaving a tense, glittering story that revolves, in part, around who is the rightful owner of a bracelet.

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"AN INCENDIARY PORTRAIT OF THE VOLCANIC CURRENTS OF SEX AND BETRAYAL."-Mail on Sunday

THE INTERNATIONAL No. 1 BESTSELLER FROM THE AUTHOR OF MY BRILLIANT FRIEND

A BBC2 Between The Covers Book Club Pick

BRITISH BOOK AWARDS 2021 - SHORTLISTED FOR FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR

Soon to be a NETFLIX original series

18M OF ELENA FERRANTE'S BOOKS SLOD WORLDWIDE


Giovanna's pretty face has changed: it's turning into the face of an ugly, spiteful adolescent. But is she seeing things as they really are? Where must she look to find her true reflection and a life she can claim as her…


Book cover of A Visit from the Goon Squad

Joshua David Bellin Author Of Myriad

From Joshua's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Teacher Science fiction fan

Joshua's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Joshua David Bellin Why did Joshua love this book?

A novel about the music industry might seem a strange choice for me. Though I love music, I've never played an instrument (except air guitar), and I find stories of rock stars' misbehavior tedious at best. But a friend urged me to read this book, and I'm glad I listened.

Yes, it's about the music industry, with a varied cast of characters (artists, producers, and more). But it's also about issues I connected with instantly: pursuing one's dreams, finding one's voice, making one's way in life, work, and love.

Creative language use matters to me, and Egan's prose knocked me out, as when she describes lifelong friends "staring at each other's new faces, our familiar features rinsed in weird adulthood." Who would think to use "rinsed" here? Genius!

By Jennifer Egan,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Visit from the Goon Squad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION
NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2010

Jennifer Egan's spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in…


Book cover of A Season for the Dead

Joseph D'Agnese Author Of The Marshal of the Borgo

From my list on discovering Italian mystery novels.

Who am I?

As a kid, Joseph D’Agnese did not feel quite normal unless he’d devoured at least two mystery novels in a weekend. Today he’s a journalist and author. His mystery fiction has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He’s a past recipient of the Derringer Award for Short Mystery Fiction, and a contributor to the prestigious annual anthology, Best American Mystery Stories. D’Agnese lives in North Carolina with his wife, the New York Times Bestselling author Denise Kiernan.

Joseph's book list on discovering Italian mystery novels

Joseph D'Agnese Why did Joseph love this book?

If you diligently work your way down this list, you’ll travel to Sicily, Venice, Florence, and Naples. But none of these cities beat Rome. I’m biased, of course. My wife and I lived in Rome when we were first married. When I close my eyes, I swear I see Caravaggios and I can still smell the woodsmoke and simmering pasta sauce that perfume Rome’s air. All of which brings me to Hewson’s Nic Costa novels. I don’t think anyone nails Rome’s sinister criminal quality the way Hewson does, but he still manages to capture the Eternal City’s beauty, food, and art. (Hewson’s a Brit who travels to Italy often; it's totally worth checking out his Instagram account.) Currently 10 books in the series. If you like them, investigate his standalone novels, some of which are also set in Italy.

By David Hewson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE FIRST IN THE ACCLAIMED NIC COSTA SERIES

'No author has ever brought Rome so alive for me - nor made it seem so sinister' PETER JAMES

'David Hewson's Rome is dark and tantalizing, seductive and dangerous, a place where present-day crimes ring with the echoes of history' TESS GERRITSEN

'Hewson keeps the reader guessing . . . relentlessly tightening the suspense until the end' Daily Telegraph

There's no rest for the wicked . . .

While Rome is sweltering in the height of summer, a serial killer is on the loose. Sara Farnese is working in the Vatican library,…


Book cover of Nelson's Letters to Lady Hamilton and Related Documents

Jonathan North Author Of Nelson at Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799

From my list on Nelson’s love for Lady Hamilton.

Who am I?

I consider myself a historian. It isn’t a job title or a career, more of a passion. The object of my passion is the period following the French revolution. When the world, for all its art and elegance, was convulsed by conflict and Napoleon. I shy from the big sweep of events, preferring to tell stories through the words of those who were there. My interest in Nelson and Lady Hamilton grew from my research on the Neapolitan revolution of 1799 and I was shocked to discover that, in addition to their love story, there was a chilling crime disguised and buried beneath their famous romance.

Jonathan's book list on Nelson’s love for Lady Hamilton

Jonathan North Why did Jonathan love this book?

And, as you can also tell from the title, we have now moved into more academic circles. Here we have some primary sources on Nelson’s intense relationship with Emma, thus allowing the two key participants in that drama to speak for themselves. They do, and it is all quite eye-opening. There’s much on the stresses of the war, and the trials of separation, but touching moments, too, and real concern for their daughter. Despite the editor being a little too sympathetic to Nelson, who was, after all, having his hardtack and eating it, and there being gaps in the correspondence at key times, such as Naples in June 1799, when the couple was together, this is a great book to understand the couple’s dynamic and the context of their relationship. 

By Marianne Czisnik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nelson's Letters to Lady Hamilton and Related Documents as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Czisnik is the author of the controversial biogrpahy, Horatio Nelson: A Controversial Hero

Nelson's relationship with Lady hamilton was viewed as shockingly modern and unconventional for the time

Nelson remains one of Britain's most famous historical figures


Book cover of Between Salt Water and Holy Water: A History of Southern Italy

Michael A. DeMarco Author Of Wuxia America: The Timely Emergence of a Chinese American Hero

From my list on uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills.

Who am I?

Life is pretty dull without passion. Since early childhood I was attracted to Chinese philosophy, then to all the cultural aspects that reflect it. At the same time, I felt the blood in my veins drawing me to ancestral roots. Learning about other cultures helps us learn about our own. I’ve been driven by sympathy for the immigrant experience, the suffering, and sacrifices made for a better, peaceful life. What prepared me to write Wuxia America includes my academic studies, living and working in Asia, and involvement in martial arts. My inspiration for writing stems from a wish to encourage ways to improve human relations.

Michael's book list on uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills

Michael A. DeMarco Why did Michael love this book?

My grandparents were from southern Italy. Over the years, I had always wanted to learn about the area, its history, and culture. Even in the Italian language, there is a lack of any quality publications dealing with the south.

Finally, a book was published in 2005 filling this gap—Astarita’s book is praiseworthy for its in-depth coverage of south Italy. Rather than scavenging together hundreds of books and articles for information, there came this main reference work.

Written by Astarita, a professor at Georgetown University, it is a scholarly work. It doesn’t read like a novel, but the thoroughness brings out the character of the people and their contributions to Italian and world culture. I praise the author for bringing this important topic out of obscurity to world attention.

By Tommaso Astarita,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between Salt Water and Holy Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of southern Italy is entirely distinct from that of northern Italy, yet it has never been given its own due. In this authoritative and wholly engrossing history, distinguished scholar Tommaso Astarita "does a masterful job of correcting this error" (Mark Knoblauch, Booklist). From the Normans and Angevins, through Spanish and Bourbon rule, to the unification of Italy in 1860, Astarita rescues Sicily and the worlds south of Rome from the dustier folds of history and restores them to sparkling life. We are introduced to the colorful religious observances, the vibrant historical figures, the diverse population, the ancient ruins,…


Book cover of The Guardian of Mercy: How an Extraordinary Painting by Caravaggio Changed an Ordinary Life Today

Idanna Pucci Author Of The Lady of Sing Sing: An American Countess, an Italian Immigrant, and Their Epic Battle for Justice in New York's Gilded Age

From my list on far-flung places and times.

Who am I?

Early in life, I felt the presence of a “guardian angel” who would take my hand and accompany my mind to imagine distant cultures. I grew up in Florence, and in our history, there were so many tales of people coming from afar, and of Florentines traveling across deserts and oceans. And as time passed, I would be drawn to beautifully written true stories which opened windows onto different epochs and dramas of life in both near and far-flung places of the world.

Idanna's book list on far-flung places and times

Idanna Pucci Why did Idanna love this book?

In this wondrous book on Caravaggio, the world of Naples unfolds from the inside through an electrifying reading experience. Written with grace, almost every sentence imparts an epiphany. The author challenges us to undertake soul-work, even if one is a secular reader. Reading becomes an act of empathy and passion. In the words of Wallace Stevens, potential readers will become ‘necessary angels’.

By Terence Ward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Profound New Look at the Italian Master and His Lasting Legacy

Now celebrated as one of the great painters of the Renaissance, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio fled Rome in 1606 to escape retribution for killing a man in a brawl. Three years later he was in Naples, where he painted The Seven Acts of Mercy. A year later he died at the age of thirty-eight under mysterious circumstances. Exploring Caravaggio's singular masterwork, in The Guardian of Mercy Terence Ward offers an incredible narrative journey into the heart of his artistry and his metamorphosis from fugitive to visionary.

Ward's guide…


Book cover of The Collaborator

H.R. Kemp Author Of Deadly Secrets: What Unspeakable Truths Lurk Beneath The Lies?

From H.R.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Curious Traveler Explorer Questioner Avid reader

H.R.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

H.R. Kemp Why did H.R. love this book?

I enjoy slow-burn, deep novels with a storyline that draws on real and serious issues. The Collaborator took me inside the callous world of mafia families, exposing the horror of their "business model" and the demand for loyalty at all costs. I love to explore this world from a safe place, and this book challenged my preconceived ideas. 

The focus on justice and doing what’s right in the face of overwhelming odds is compelling and represents the kind of story I enjoy most. It’s a story of courage; it’s gripping and intense, although not an action story in the traditional sense. 

It is thought-provoking, complex, and deep, just as I like my stories.

By Gerald Seymour,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Deadlier than the Mafia, the Camorra never forget, and never forgive.

She is an Italian accountancy student in London, and her boyfriend Eddie teaches at a language school. But the prime reason Immacolata Borelli came to Britain was to look after her gangster brother, wanted for multiple murders back home in Naples.

For the Borelli clan are major players in the Camorra, a crime network more close-knit and ruthless than the Sicilian Mafia.

Mario Castrolami is a senior Carabinieri investigator of the Camorra, his career dedicated to destroying the corruption and violence of the clans. When Immacolata calls from London…