Francisca says: “I just read Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and really enjoyed it. The language is beautiful and vivid and I loved the juxtaposition of simple Italian life with the glamor of Hollywood. The story intertwines the lives of several very different individuals over a 50 year period and is a page turner. It also has a lovely message about life and making the most of what we are given.”
Does this sound interesting? Click here for a sample!
3 Similar Reads
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – “Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs confront their pasts in this powerful story about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn, and how art and music have the power to redeem.” – Summary from catalog
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby – “Journalist Hornby’s very funny first novel has already hit the best-seller lists in London and with good reason. In a candid, engaging narrative voice, 35-year-old pop-music fanatic Rob, the owner of a vintage record shop who has just broken up with his longtime girlfriend, attempts to ease his misery by giving an account of his top-five most memorable split-ups.” – Booklist (note: a film adaptation starring John Cusack is also available via the SWAN network)
The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman – “In 1962 the Marx family of liberal Newton, Massachusetts, is politely discouraged from vacationing at a placid Vermont resort by a thinly veiled response to the innocent inquiry about accommodations, stating that the ‘guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles.’ Experiencing her first taste of overt anti-Semitism, 13-year-old Natalie Marx becomes instantly obsessed with the Inn at Lake Devine and the seemingly bigoted family that owns and operates it.” – Booklist
This is a great summer read, a good book to escape into. Set on the coast of Italy, the story is told from the perspective of 22 year old Etto, a young man who is struggling after the death of his mother and brother. Through friends, family and soccer he is able to find happiness and hope. I read this book in a weekend, it’s a page turner.
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman – Also set in Italy, this literary and engaging novel focuses on the interesting characters that staff a struggling newspaper. Won Publishers Weekly and NY Times Book of the Year in 2010.
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz – A collection of short stories focusing on love and loss. Told from the perspective of Yunior, a romantic and hardheaded young man. If you are looking for funny and beautiful writing, check this out. Won 2012 Publisher’s Weekly and NY Times Book of the Year. Won 2013 American Library Association Notable Books
The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie – For a more historical novel written by an important author, try this story of a stranger who arrives at the court of Emperor Akbar with a tale about a mysterious woman. Set in two empires – Florence during High Renaissance and the Mogul Empire.
“I felt this was easier to follow than his other novels. There were lots of twists and surprises in this novel.” – Victoria
“The threat of world overpopulation is the latest assignment for Brown’s art historian and accidental sleuth Robert Langdon. Awakening in a Florence hospital with no memory of the preceding 36 hours, Langdon and an attractive attending physician with an oversized intellect are immediately pursued by an ominous underground organization and the Italian police. Detailed tours of Florence, Venice, and Istanbul mean to establish setting, but instead bog down the story and border on showoffmanship. Relying on a deceased villain’s trail of clues threaded through the text of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, the duo attempt to unravel the events leading up to Langdon’s amnesia and thwart a global genocide scheme. Suspension of disbelief is required as miraculous coincidences pile upon pure luck. Near the three-quarters point everything established gets upended and Brown, hoping to draw us in deeper, nearly drives us out. Though the prose is fast-paced and sharp, the burdensome dialogue only serves plot and back story, and is interspersed with unfortunate attempts at folksy humor. It’s hard not to appreciate a present day mega-selling thriller that attempts a refresher course in Italian literature and European history. But the real mystery is in the book’s denouement and how Brown can possibly bring his hero back for more.” – Publisher’s Weekly Review
“All summer I kept seeing this novel pop up in lists of recommended books. Now I see why. Scenes shift back and forth from 1962 Italy where Cleopatra (the one with Richard Burton and Liz Taylor) is being filmed to modern Hollywood to Edinburgh. There are poignant and very funny events. It’s easy to follow the changes of scene. You will quickly get interested in how the characters’ lives play out and how they intersect.”
We had two people recommend this short novel for the month of August. Here is Hadley’s recommendation:
“I enjoyed this short novel by Italian author Niccolo Ammaniti. The main character Lorenzo is a teenage outsider who has trouble connecting with his peers, and getting a handle on his emotions. Lorenzo lies to his parents about taking a ski trip with friends, and instead intends to spend the week by himself vegging out in a hidden room of his family’s large house. Everything is going according to plan until his troubled half sister Olivia pays a visit. At times funny and sad, Me and You tells the story of a brief, deep connection of two half siblings during an important moment in both of their young lives.”
And here is Pat’s recommendation:
“Niccolo Ammaniti is the author of a little story entitled ME AND YOU, translated from the Italian. It’s a beautiful little book, a perfect tale, painful and moving. I read it in one sitting since it’s only 147 pages.”
“I loved the novel by Italian physicist, Paolo Giordano, The Solitude of Prime Numbers. It is beautifully written and translated from the Italian, with heartbreaking, unforgettable character portraits and descriptions. A prime number, divisible only by the number one and itself is the elegant analogy for the two main characters, a couple who touch, and then separate, then come back together over twenty years. Translated into twenty languages and an international bestseller, this novel is hard to put down, and hard to forget.
La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language by Dianne R. Hales
“Hale discusses vibrant Italian words and phrases to highlight Italy’s contributions to music, literature, food, and love-making. Explaining the romantic and rather bawdy terms bring the high and the everyday culture to life. A few on library staff have read it and loved it. A wonderful preview of the country if you are planning a trip. If you are Italian, it will make you even more proud of your heritage. It will give you new insight into your Italian friends.”