9 nonfiction books to improve your Italian
This is my list of the nonfiction books I have read in the last few years. Every book on the list has inspired me in a way or another. Some books were recommended to me by my lovely students too! Since I believe that reading nonfiction in Italian is an excellent exercise for intermediate and advanced learners, I hope you also will find any of these books a valuable addition to your Italian language bookshelf. Read this article too.
The Mafia and its implications in our society is not an easy topic to explain to foreigners as it has its roots in the cultural and political context of centuries of Sicilian/Italian history. That’s why I have started to recommend my students interested in getting to know what the Mafia is to read La mafia spiegata ai ragazzi. This short book is thought to explain the Mafia to young adults. This format is particularly useful as the language is tailored to younger readers and so, suitable to most intermediate Italian learners.
This very delightful book explores the concept of Ikigai, a Japanese word that stands for the reason to live or the reason to get out of the bed. After researching the lives of many peoples who stands our for its longevity, the authors concluded that the main ingredient for a happy and long life is the Ikigai itself. This book inspired the 2nd episode of my Podcast – 7 minutes in Slow Italian, where I discuss the idea of Blue Zones.
This is a book I was recommended by one of my students a couple of years ago. It’s a bestseller revolving around the idea that waking up a little earlier every day can help you to be more productive and energetic long term. The authors promote the idea that morning is the best time of the day to cultivate one’s hobbies or complete the tasks that we might not be able to finish after our regular workday. As an Italian proverb recites, “Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca” (the early bird catches the worm)
If you had to choose just one book out of this list, I would opt for this one. This was a life-changing reading for me, and I think for most people that have read it. Non-violent communication is a work developed by the American Psychiatrist Marshall Rosenberg. The manual provides a set of skills and guides to apply in our day-to-day conversations with our friends, family and clients and teach how to understand our deeper needs and the ones of others with the only help of the power of listening and peaceful communication.
Another great way to integrate authentic Italian reading into your Italian routine is with the use of Italian graphic novels. That’s a fantastic way because the content comes in the shape of conversations and the drawings will help your understanding. Salvezza is one of my favorite examples of graphic novels which I have already used with many of my students in my Italian fluency programs. This work is the result of the author’s experience of spending a whole week on an ONGs ship rescuing immigrants in the Mediterranean Sea and of the interviews they conducted with the staff and the refugees on the boat.
This is another incredible short book f written by a Buddhist monk and Nobel nominee Thich Nhat Hanh. His short book revolves around how silence is what we need, to listen to ourself and stop the mental chutter that “pollute” our lives. Easier said than done, but this little gem of a book is a good start.
This is one of my favorite books and guesses what the suggestion came from one student. This book explains why it is essential to quiet our minds and explains clearly and straightforwardly why it is so hard stopping our thoughts. It is so good because it also explains what induces our inner chatter and prevents us from living in the here and now. I enjoyed every minute of this reading and helped me to empower my focus, mindfulness concentration.
This is an international bestseller about the spiritual journey of a lawyer who decides to embrace a more spiritual way of life, after a significant life event. His spiritual journey brings him to India, where he meets all the spiritual gurus that changed his life forever. The whole book is a metaphor for the path of self-growth and uses the monk’s experiences to teach great life lessons.
This is an international bestseller about the spiritual journey of a lawyer who decides to embrace a more spiritual way of life, after a significant life event. His spiritual journey brings him to India, where he meets all the spiritual gurus that changed his life forever. The whole book is a metaphor for the path of self-growth and uses the monk’s experiences to teach great life lessons. [only in English, but excellent for cultural insights ]
Why reading books in Italian is essential
Do you know that 70 % of the vocabulary of educated people comes from reading in his mother tongue?
Reading is widely recognized as one of the most powerful learning tools when it comes to foreign languages.
The reason is that when you read a book in Italian (or any other foreign language)…
- You unconsciously absorb grammar patterns and the correct spelling of words. Reading in Italian is an excellent way to get the hang of the prepositions or verb conjugations: as you read, you visualize and absorb the (correct) language naturally. In other words, when reading in Italian, you polish your Italian.
- It does not sound like “learning”. Forget about those boring textbooks where you are forced to read about Marco and Chiara’s happenings when they are on vacation or at the supermarket. You are in charge of the content you want to spend time with.
- Through Italian reading, you reactivate all the passive vocabulary that you have previously internalized during your Italian lessons or trips to Italy.
When my students ask me to recommend to them what Italian books to read, I always give them two pieces of advice.
- Pick something comprehensible (you should understand at least 90% out of it)
- Read nonfiction books
Why the letter?
Why reading nonfiction books in Italian is a great idea
I love nonfiction books. When I end up reading a great book, I have the habit of reading it a second time in a different language. I have read in five different languages so far and profoundly enjoyed every minute of it. Despite my personal experience, I think nonfiction books offer the opportunity, not only to learn and improve your Italian but also to expand your horizons in your field of interest.
In addition, I find the language used in a nonfiction book way easier to remember and even more useful. When you read something related to a field that interests you, you are more likely to retain that vocabulary and use it in your Italian conversations.
I will never stop saying, language is a tool to expand your knowledge, hobbies and visions. It’s never the final destination. Use the language with a purpose.