The best books about Venice 📚

Browse the best books on Venice as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Venice

Venice

By Jan Morris

Why this book?

Jan Morris’s book is a fantastic discussion about the evolution of Venice. It explores why the city looks as it does, why the inhabitants behave in a particular manner, it explains how the buildings are constructed, why the boats are shaped as they are, how the navy constructed their Arsenale, what is best to eat, and when, what the climate is like and how this has informed behaviour and so much more...

From the list:

The best books on the future of the interior

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Book cover of Veneziaenigma: Thirteen Centuries of Chronicles, Mysteries, Curiosities and Extraordinary Events Poised Between History and Myth

Veneziaenigma: Thirteen Centuries of Chronicles, Mysteries, Curiosities and Extraordinary Events Poised Between History and Myth

By Alberto Toso Fei

Why this book?

Toso Fei is a Venetian author who writes about the quirks and mysteries of Venice. He has several books about ghost stories, strange events, and inventions. All his books are great because he not only writes well but is knowledgeable as only an insider can be.

From the list:

The best books about Venice (non-guidebooks)

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Book cover of Venice Observed

Venice Observed

By Mary McCarthy

Why this book?

Here you get McCarthy’s whit and her fine descriptions about living in Venice. Although her stay happened long ago, her stories about interacting with her landlord and other Venetians, and all the adjustments one must make when living in a water-bound city, ring true today as well.
From the list:

The best books about Venice (non-guidebooks)

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Book cover of Cry to Heaven

Cry to Heaven

By Anne Rice

Why this book?

There’s a reason why so many books set in Venice revolve around death, heaven (aka Paradise), mystery, and love lost & found. There’s a story lying in wait around every alley corner, under every bridge, and at the bottom of every canal. It’s no surprise that Anne Rice, the queen of Vampire lit, set Cry to Heaven in Venice. Her novel is impeccably researched and written, bringing to life the castriti of the 18th century—men who were castrated to become sopranos for the opera houses and royal courts. Beneath the decadence of the surface of Anne Rice’s Venice lies…

From the list:

The best historical fiction set in Venice, Italy

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Book cover of Dead Lagoon: An Aurelio Zen Mystery

Dead Lagoon: An Aurelio Zen Mystery

By Michael Dibdin

Why this book?

Tangled canals. Crooked alleyways. Slumping palazzi 500-hundred years old. Venice is Italy’s most atmospheric city, right? Maybe. Genoa runs a close second. Both are misunderstood and misrepresented in literature. Outsiders don’t dip below the theme-park surface. Except for the late, great Michael Dibden. Dead Lagoon features Commissario Aurelio Zen, a flawlessly drawn Italian detective. What makes me so sure? Genetics, experience, passion. My mother’s family is Venetian (via Rome). I’ve spent decades diving deep into the Lagoon City. I even did a year of college there. When I follow Zen into those crumbling palaces to unnail their intrigues, or watch…

From the list:

The best crime novels that double as travel books

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Book cover of The Passion

The Passion

By Jeanette Winterson

Why this book?

"What you risk reveals what you value." This struck me so deeply when I first read it that I quote it to this day.

The Passion is a gorgeous, baroque, desperate symphony of a book. A love story spanning time and place, against the odds. The writing elevates the grotesque and disturbing to art. It leads you by the hand through the giddy, opulent confusion of Venice at Carnival and freezes you in the wintery depths of Napoleonic despair. It was one of the first books I read in my teens that was overtly queer and played with gender identity.…

From the list:

The best books to warm your heart and freeze your soul

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