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Reading Takes You Places: Week 7 - Italy and Other Latin European Countries

Posted: July 21, 2020, 7:57PM

Where do you want to go this summer? This week we're heading Italia!

This week we are visiting Italy for summer reading!

Ciao! Benvenuto to Week 7. On July 23, Lou Volpe, beloved English teacher at Wheeling Central Catholic High School for many years, will lead his class 10,000 miles northwest (and 260 years back in time) for a tour of Italy through Alessandro Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), which takes place in 1628 Milan during a plague. Mr. Volpe will also teach a few Italian words and phrases.

Watch this People's University Online live, July 23 at 6:30 pm on YouTube, Facebook, or the OCPL websiteLog into your YouTube or Facebook accounts to send questions and comments to Mr. Volpe during the program. 

For those who cannot tune into our People's University programs on Thursday nights, all of our programs are recorded and available for playback following the presentation.

Have kids? See our recommended reading for kids below and don't miss our online Summer Reading programs!


Featured Italian Literature

The Betrothed book coverI Promessi Sposi by Alessandro Manzoni
Italy’s greatest novel and a masterpiece of world literature, I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) chronicles the unforgettable romance of Renzo and Lucia, who endure tyranny, war, famine, and plague to be together.

Published in 1827 but set two centuries earlier, against the tumultuous backdrop of seventeenth-century Lombardy during the Thirty Years’ War, The Betrothed is the story of two peasant lovers who want nothing more than to marry. Their region of northern Italy is under Spanish occupation, and when the vicious Spaniard Don Rodrigo blocks their union in an attempt to take Lucia for himself, the couple must struggle to persevere against his plots—which include false charges against Renzo and the kidnapping of Lucia by a robber baron called the Unnamed—while beset by the hazards of war, bread riots, and a terrifying outbreak of bubonic plague. First and foremost a love story, the novel also weaves issues of faith, justice, power, and truth into a sweeping epic in the tradition of Ivanhoe, Les Misérables, and War and Peace. Groundbreakingly populist in its day and hugely influential to succeeding generations, Alessandro Manzoni’s masterwork has long been considered one of Italy’s national treasures.

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E-book
Audiobook

Ebooks available through Project Gutenberg
Translated into English
Italian versions


More Italian Literature

Recommended Italian Authors

Photo of Italian Author Umberto EcoUmberto Eco
Umberto Eco (1932-2016) was an Italian scholar in the arcane field of semiotics who became the author of best-selling novels, most notably the blockbuster medieval mystery The Name of the Rose. As a semiotician, Eco sought to interpret cultures through their signs and symbols — words, religious icons, banners, clothing, musical scores, even cartoons — and published more than 20 nonfiction books on these subjects while teaching at the University of Bologna, Europe’s oldest university. But rather than segregate his academic life from his popular fiction, Mr. Eco infused his seven novels with many of his scholarly preoccupations.

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Umberto Eco - Fiction
Umberto Eco - Non-Fiction
Umberto Eco - Audiobooks

Ebooks available through WVDeli
View all Eco books available

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
View all Eco books available

Photograph of author Italo CalvinoItalo Calvino
A strong contender of The Noble Prize for Literature, the Italian novelist, short story writer and journalist, Italo Calvino was one of Italy’s most celebrated writers who is known to blend fantasy, comedy, and fable to give an illuminated depiction of modern life and in turn giving a new dimension to novel writing. Some of Calvino’s most widely read and acclaimed works include Our Ancestors trilogy (1952–1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), Invisible Cities (1972) and If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979). If you are interested in knowing more about Italian local traditions and the stories that you won’t find in history books nor in travel guides, dive straight into Calivino's Italian Folk Tales (1956) which include 200 local stories from all over the Italian peninsula. 

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Italian Folk Tales
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
View all Calvino books available

Photograph of Natalia GinzburgNatalia Ginzburg
Arguably the most important woman writer of post-World War II Italy, Natalia Ginzburg was born on July 14, 1916 in Palermo (Sicily), where her Jewish Trieste-born father, Giuseppe Levi, who later achieved fame as a biologist and histologist, was at the time a lecturer in comparative anatomy. His non-Jewish wife, Lidia Tanzi, was the daughter of a socialist lawyer, Carlo Tanzi, a friend of Filippo Turati (1857–1932), one of the founders of the Italian Workers Party. Natalia’s first novel appeared, in 1942, under a nom de plume, because Mussolini’s racial laws forbade Jews to publish books. Her work predominantly explored family relationships, politics during and after the Fascist years and World War II, and philosophy. Valentino and Sagittarius are two of Natalia Ginzburg's most celebrated works: tales of love, hope, and delusion that are full of her characteristic mordant humor, keen psychological insight, and unflinching moral realism.

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Valentino and Sagittarius: Two Novellas

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View all Ginzburg books available

Photograph of Andrea CamilleriAndrea Camilleri
Andrea Camilleri (1925-2019) took a late-career stab at writing a mystery novel and came up with the Inspector Montalbano detective books which became wildly successful in Italy and were the basis for a popular television series. 

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View all Camilleri books available

Ebooks available through WVDeli
View all Camilleri books available

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View all Camilleri audiobooks available

Photograph of Niccolo AmmanitiNiccolo Ammaniti
Described by The Guardian newspaper as a "master storyteller," Niccolò Ammaniti - born in Rome in 1966 - has written six novels and two collections of short stories. His first novel, I'll Steal You Away, was long-listed for The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. He won the prestigious Italian Viareggio Literary Prize for Fiction for his best-selling novel I'm Not Scared, which has been translated into thirty-five languages. As God Commands received the Premio Strega Prize in 2007.

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View all Calvino books available

Ebooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
View all Calvino books available

Elena Ferrante's identity remains a mysteryElena Ferrante
In 2011, it took just one book for an as-yet-unknown Italian novelist to become one of the most prominent personalities of the early 21st century. What made the phenomenon even more unheard of was that it involved an author who had written an epic with undeniable literary ambitions. It was a saga with numerous allusions to Italian history, anchored by geography to a small corner of Naples, and these facts seemed to condemn in advance its success as an export. But the triumph of The Neopolitan Series is also stupefying because its author does no promotion at all. Elena Ferrante is a woman without a face, whose identity is known only to her Italian publisher, E/O. Her name is a pseudonym.

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Ferrante's Neopolitan Series
All Ferrante books

Ebooks and audiobooks available through WVDeli
View all Ferrante books available

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
View all Ferrante books available


Literature From Other Latin European Countries

Spain

Photo of Carlos Ruiz Zafon Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (1964-2020) became famous with his 2001 literary thriller set in melancholy 1940s Barcelona, La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind). Ignored at first by critics, it prospered by word of mouth. Two more big-selling sequels to The Shadow of the Wind followed: the lighter, more humorous El Prisionero del Cielo (The Prisoner of Heaven, 2011) and El Laberinto de los Espíritus (The Labyrinth of the Spirits, 2016), to make up the quartet The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

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View all Zafón books available

Ebooks and audiobooks available through WVDeli
View all Zafón books available

Photo of Carlos Ruiz ZafonMaría Dueñas
Highly regarded for her unique take on the historical novel, Maria Duenas has become regarded as one of the leading Spanish writers of period-based novels. Born and raised in the Spanish city of Puertollano in Ciudad Real, many of her novels are thematically linked to her background, along with the rich cultural history of her Portugal. 

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View all Dueñas books available

Ebooks and audiobooks available through WVDeli
View all Dueñas books available

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
View all Saramago books available

Portugal

Photo of Jose Saramago José Saramago
Awarded the Nobel prize in 1998 for his ability to "apprehend an elusory reality," José Saramago (1922-2010) is without question Portugal’s most famous literary export. His 1984 novel The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, set in a prewar fascist Lisbon, is widely considered his masterpiece. Baltasar and Blimunda (1998) offers a love story with a surrealistic reflection on life in 18th-century Portugal. His works, some of which can be seen as allegories, commonly present subversive perspectives on historic events, emphasizing the theopoetic human factor.

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View all Saramago books available

Ebooks and audiobooks available through WVDeli
View all Saramago books available

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
View all Saramago books available

France

Photo of Victor Hugo Victor Hugo
The French author Victor Hugo, is regarded by many as the supreme author of French romanticism, a style of the 1800s that emphasized a free form of writing and expressed strong emotions, experiences of common people, and imaginative expressions and passion. During a literary career that spanned more than sixty years, he wrote abundantly in an exceptional variety of genres: lyrics, satires, epics, philosophical poems, epigrams, novels, history, critical essays, political speeches, funeral orations, diaries, letters public and private, and dramas in verse and prose. Outside France, his most famous works are the novels Les Misérables (1862) and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831.) 

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All Hugo books (and movie adaptations)

Ebooks and audiobooks available through WVDeli
All Hugo books (and movie adaptations)

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
All Hugo books (movie & graphic novel adaptations)

Photo of Alexandre Dumas Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) was perhaps the most popular author of the nineteenth century, and his best works continue to be popular today. Two of his novels, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, are ranked among the best adventure stories of the world and have been read by countless thousands. Born near Soissons, France, he was the son of a Creole general of the French Revolutionary armies. His grandfather was from a noble family, and his grandmother had been a Dominican slave. Dumas's father the was not merely a great soldier of the French Revolution but also the highest-ranking black leader in a modern white society. However, when Napoleon became Emperor, he expelled black officers from the armed forces and reinstituted slavery in France's overseas possessions. Dumas the novelist adored and hero-worshipped his father, who had died in 1806 but left indelible memories and would take a marvelous sort of revenge, infusing his father’s life and spirit into fictional characters who have been embraced the world over.

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All Dumas books (and movie adaptations)

Ebooks and audiobooks available through WVDeli
All Dumas books (includes graphic novel adaptations)

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
All Dumas books (includes graphic novel adaptations)

Photo of Collete Colette
Known mononymously as Colette (1873-1954), this French author and woman of letters was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, and was also known as a mime, actress, and journalist.  Frequently acclaimed as France's greatest woman writer, Colette is best remembered for her 1944 novella Gigi,  in which a young girl in turn-of-the-century Paris is being groomed by her grandmother to become a courtesan. The novella was the basis for the 1958 film and the 1973 stage production of the same name.

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Gigi - the novella
Gigi - the 1958 film
All Colette books

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View all Collete books available

Photograph of Maurice DuronMaurice Druon
A French resistance hero, a Knight of the British Empire, and a holder of the Grand Croix de la Légion d'Honneur, Maurice Duron (1918-2009) is famous for the series of 7 historical novels that was published and became popular during the 1950s under the famous title – Les Rois Maudits (The Accursed Kings). These books are the original Game of Thrones — even George R. R. Martin said so. The series of books follow several generations of kings and queens who have been cursed by the Grand Master of the Templar Order. All the books are based on the history of the French monarchy. They are filled with sex, incest, manipulation, torture, and murders.

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The Memoirs of Zeus

Ebooks available through WVDeli
Accursed King Series e-books

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
Accursed King Series audiobooks

Photo of Katherine PancolKatherine Pancol
A journalist turned novelist, Katherine Pancol has enjoyed critical and commercial success since the publication of her first novel, Moi D’Abord, in 1979. Her writing is fast-paced and eventful. She contends that one of her literary goals is to inspire and challenge women while offering insights into the female psyche. In the United States, she’s best known for two of her bestsellers’ translations, Les Yeux jaunes des crocodiles (The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles) and the sequel La Valse lente des tortues (The Slow Waltz of Turtles)

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The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles
The Slow Waltz of Turtles

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
The Slow Waltz of Turtles (audiobook)

Romania

Photo of Elie WieselElie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel (1928-2016) was born in the town of Sighet, now part of Romania. During World War II, he, with his family and other Jews from the area, was deported to the German concentration and extermination camps, where his parents and little sister perished. Wiesel and his two older sisters survived. Liberated from Buchenwald in 1945 by advancing Allied troops, he was taken to Paris where he studied at the Sorbonne and worked as a journalist. In 1958, he published his first book, La Nuit (Night), a memoir of his experiences in the concentration camps. He has since authored nearly thirty1 books some of which use these events as their basic material.

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Night 
All Wiesel books

Ebooks and audiobooks available through WVDeli
View all Wiesel books available

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
View all Wiesel books available


Featured Children's Books

Italy

Gaspard on vacation book coverGaspard on Vacation, by Anne Gutman and illustrated by Georg Hallensleben.
Weary of museums, a young puppy escapes his family, slipping into a little red kayak to explore the canals of Venice on his own. As day wears on into night, Hallensleben (And If the Moon Could Talk, 1998, etc.) sends his errant little tourist gliding through impressionistically rendered Venetian scenes both recognizable and generic. Paddling hastily away from a disastrous encounter with a gondola, Gaspard ends up huddling in a church doorway—until a police boat with his relieved parents aboard pulls up to carry him off to a meal of “the best spaghetti in the world.” This book should provoke family discussions about common-sense vacation behavior, as well as the desirability of keeping itineraries child-friendly.

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Gaspard on Vacation 
View all Anne Gutman books

Other books about Italy:
➤ View kids books available to reserve for curbside pick-up set in Italy and Venice
➤ WVDeli e-books for kids set in Italy and Venice
Hoopla e-books for kids about Italy

City Cat book coverCity Cat by Kate Banks
A plucky stray cat takes a Grand Tour in Kate Banks' story of a family on a European vacation. As the family travels from one city to the next, the cat finds its own means--by bus, boat, train, truck, and bike--to tag along on the trip, visiting historic landmarks like Buckingham Palace and the Cathedral of Notre Dame along the way. Readers will pore over the spreads to find where City Cat is hiding in each city, and detailed backmatter explains the history behind the sites in each locale.

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Picture book 
View OCPL Toddler Time online featuring City Cat

Other Kate Banks books:
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Check out ebooks immediately with no waitlist through Hoopla!

France

Gustave Eiffel's spectacular idea book coverGustave Eiffel’s Spectacular Idea, by Sharon Katz Cooper
Paris' famous Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized landmarks in the world, but it wasn't easy to build. Follow along with Gustave's Eiffel's beginnings as a bridge designer and engineer behind the Statue of Liberty to the criticism and personal attacks he faced while building the tower. Build a new appreciation for the iconic Eiffel Tower.

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Gustave Eiffel’s Spectacular Idea
View OCPL Story Time online featuring Gustave Eiffel’s Spectacular Idea

Other books about the Eiffel Tower:
Reserve  for curbside pick-up at the Library
Juvenile picture e-books on WVDeli
Chapter e-books on WVDeli
Check out ebooks immediately with no waitlist through Hoopla!

Spain

There was an old man who painted the sky Book CoverThere Was an Old Man Who Painted the Sky, by Teri Sloat and illustrated by Stefano Vitale
This intriguing creation story was inspired by a real event. An author’s note informs readers that in 1879 an eight-year-old girl discovered primitive paintings on the ceiling of a cave in Spain. Based loosely on the rhythm of the familiar folk song about the old woman who swallowed a fly, the cumulative text imagines an elderly, bearded creator who paints the sky, the stars, moon and sun, day and night, people, planets and animals into being. From there he passes the paints to his human creations, who decorate themselves and the world. Next comes “the child in a cave all alone” who finds the images on the ceiling. 

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There Was an Old Man Who Painted the Sky 

Other books about Spain:
Reserve  for curbside pick-up at the Library
Check out ebooks immediately with no waitlist through Hoopla!


Have you read some great world literature you'd like to share?

Tell us what you've been reading in the comments below!

And don't forget to join our online Summer Reading Challenge, "Reading Takes You Places." Each minute you read between now and August 15th will count as one mile. We'll be keeping track of countries visited in books and miles (in minutes) read through an online platform. Want to participate? Starting June 15, 2020 sign up online at ohiocountylibrary.readsquared.com or download the READsquared app at the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Find even more suggested books in the Adult Summer Reading Book List in READSquared. Let us know where you've traveled and how far this summer through books!






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