Italian BOOKS to improve your Italian language skills for all LEVELS of Learning

Reading is a very useful activity to improve our language skills because it allows us to know and learn new structures, words and grammar rules of the language of we’re studying in addition to improving of our memorization skills. For this reason, today we are going to recommend you some titles you should read that are suitable for your level! In addition, in the video related to this article, you’ll find a useful reading-related exercise.

The best Italian books you should read to learn Italian 

Let’s begin with:

Beginner level: A1-A2

Given that Italian authors write for Italian readers, it’s quite difficult to recommend books for this level to a foreign reader who might feel discouraged since they can’t understand what they’re reading. However, what is really important is approaching the language and not understanding the meaning of every single word.

Here are some useful tips to get it started:

1) Don’t start with the reading of children’s fairy tails: because they’re full of verbs that are conjugated in the “passato remoto” (past simple) (B2-C1 level) and they’re also full of terms related to fantasy, thus being not very useful to a beginner

2) Don’t start with the reading of Italian teenage classics (for example those written by Italo Calvino): because they might have too much complex and sector-specific lexicon (thus of little use) for a beginner.

3) Avoid the reading of Italian classics (especially those written by authors from the late 1800s or the early 1900s): because thy might be written in an ancient Italian and therefore they might be a bit difficult to understand and of little use for a foreign reader.

4) Read bilingual books or adult books that are adapted for children: because they are provided with a text in Italian and a parallel text in your mother tongue.


Our suggestions are:

Un’estate senza precedenti (written by Elodie Nowodazkij)

The author is not Italian, thus the book is not written in the original language, but it’s a good way to start; among other things the plot is quite simple as well: in fact, it talks about the love between the boy and the younger sister of his best friend during the course of a summer that is very different from all the others.

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Divina Avventura (written by Enrico Cerni and Francesca Gambino)

This book is a re-telling the events of Dante’s Divine Comedy seen through the eyes of children but remaining true to the original work (through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven) and trying to make known places and curious, fantastic and bizarre characters as well.

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Tre Cavalli (written by Erri De Luca)

This 109 pages book features a very simple and clear style with the presence of verbs that are mostly conjugated in the present simple and present perfect. The interesting plot talks about a man who moves to Argentine for love and, after the death of his love, he decides to join the fight against dictatorship. Throughout the book, many strong and always current themes are treated, such as solitude, immigration and willpower, teaching the reader that whatever happens, we should never lose hope and never stop fighting.

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Ma le stelle quante sono (written by Giulia Carcasi)

This is a romance novel telling the story of Carlo, an honest but clumsy boy, and Alice, a dreamy non-ordinary girl, who start a serious of relationships with people that are very different from them, namely more easygoing and intriguing! The peculiarity of this novel is its presentation as a two-sided, two-perspectives, two-genders story… in fact, you’ll experience the story form Carlo or Alice’s point of view, depending on the way you’ll read the book (that has two covers); in addition, the simple writing and the presence of verbs in the present simple and present perfect make the reading of this novel very enjoyable.

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Now, let’s move to the:

Intermediate Level: B1-B2

At this level, you must experience new types of reading, you must keep testing yourselves. In fact, only persistence and commitment will allow you to reach an advanced level. But be careful because you’ll have to deal with the much-feared “passato remoto” (past simple).

Here are our suggestions:

Cipì (written by Mario Lodi)

Even though this is a children’s book, you can find many of the most common verbs in Italian conjugated in the “passato remoto” (past simple) but in a very simple context that will allow you to focus entirely on the learning of this tense. In fact, the plot revolves around Cipì, a little bird that is the protagonist of a story made up the the author, who’s also a teacher, for his students, while he was looking out of the window. It’s a very light-hearted story that will prepare you to deal with more difficult readings but, above all, it’s very useful as well, because there are some exercise you can do to improve your comprehension skills.

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La vita che volevo (written by Lorenzo Licalzi)

The plot of this book revolves around several stories experienced by different people dealing with different problems that leaves the readers reflecting on their lives, on the decision they’ve taken and on their regrets. But it also leads them to consider the existence of a destiny, or a coincidence that perhaps influences our lives. In short, this book will make you reflect on who you are and who you’d have liked to be but at the same time it will help you to decide who you want to be in the future.

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Bianca come il latte, Rossa come il sangue (written by Alessandro d’Avenia)

In this touching book, the author treats the theme of teenage love, telling the story of Leo, a sixteen-years-old boy with the typical dreams and passions of a teenager who’s encouraged by his professor of history and philosophy to follow his dream, related to the color red: it’s Beatrice, a girl with red hair who is n love with. Unfortunately, the girl is affected with an illness, related to the color white, that makes the boy suffer as well (in the heart). But he can rely on her loyal friend Silvia. You can’t miss this book because it’s intended for everybody and it will touch the strings of your hearts!

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At last, we have the:

Advanced Level: C1-C2

At this level you can’t consider yourselves almost native speakers, therefore you have the necessary skills to read novels, essays and the great Italian classics!

Here are the books we’d like to recommend you:

Il rumore dei tuoi passi (written by Valentina d’Urbano)

Even though the writing of this book isn’t particularly complex, it must be considered an advanced level reading because of the high presence of verbs conjugated in the “passato remoto” (past simple) and colloquialisms that often result being too crude as much as the plot. In fact, the story is set in an imaginary neighborhood on the margins of society, called “La Fortezza”, where degradation, crime, addiction and violence are a daily occurrence. In such a strong context, the two main characters, Beatrice and Alfredo, a boy and a girl who grew up together, must face several problems like Alfredo’s father’s alcoholism, which will lead the boy to use heroine to comfort himself, and Beatrice’s family’s poverty who non-the-less has good values. Therefore “la Fortezza” becomes the representation of one the many “ghetto-neighborhoods” still existing in Italy where everyone seems destined to a tragic end, although sometimes there’s a hope to change things.

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Il giorno in più (written by Fabio Volo)

This book, written in a very “soft” style, talks about the love at first sight striking a couple of young people, Giacomo and Michela, on the tram they usually take to go to their workplaces. Even though they never interact with each other, the attraction between the two is obvious. But everything looks set to change when Michela, by taking the initiative, speaks to Giacomo telling him she would move to New York. After hearing those news, Giacomo is upset but he decides to track her down in the Big Apple, showing courage for the first time of his life.

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Homo Stupidus Stupidus – L’agonia di una civiltà (written by Vittorino Andreoli)

This book is one of the latest works of the author that has the purpose of raising awareness about the problems we’re experiencing nowadays that might cancel the achievements of Western society. In particular, the author argues that the death of a civilization is preceded by several warning signs associated to three attitudes that are quite prevalent nowadays:

  • destructiveness
  • demise of the principles at the base of social life
  • humanity without any form of control

By analyzing these topics, the author affirms that humanity should be called “stupidus”. It’s up to you to find out why.

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The last book we recommend you today is of course Italiano Colloquiale: Parole ed Espressioni per Tutti i Giorni, our book on the expressions and words that Italians use every single day. In addition, there are some pages devoted to Italian culture and facts! This book is perfect for those who want to learn the Italian spoken on a daily basis by Italian people!

Alright, that concludes our list! We hope you’ll find these book interesting! Let us know in the comment section if you’ve already read any of these books or if you’re going to do that. Alternatively, if you want to improve your skills in listening, as well as in reading, then don’t miss our video on the best Italian YouTube channels and podcasts!

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