Reading List

Happy Winter Delve Deeper Reading List

Adult Nonfiction

Scannella, Francesco. Sicilian Shadows. Medina Publishing, 2014.

In this compelling memoir, the author throws open a window on the true nature of Sicilians, explains how and why they turn to the Mafia and how desperate life was at the time. He tells with wry humour and brutal honesty of tragic young love; of how a school friend became an assassin; of politics and philosophy, cookery and cryptozoology. Frank Sinatra makes an appearance, as does the father of the modern Mafia, Don Caló Vizzini. Sicilian Shadows, Francesco Scannella’s first book, is an absorbing story of the loss of innocence, a homage to a homeland, and a history lesson about one of the most misunderstood societies in the world: light years away from cosmopolitan Palermo and the paparazzi glitz of 1960s Italy.

Hooper, John. The Italians. Viking, 2015.

John Hooper’s entertaining and perceptive book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Fifteen years as a foreign correspondent based in Rome have sharpened Hooper’s observations, and he looks at the facts that lie behind the stereotypes, shedding new light on everything from the Italians’ bewildering politics to their love of life and beauty. Hooper persuasively demonstrates the impact of geography, history, and tradition on many aspects of Italian life, including football and Freemasonry, sex, food, and opera.

Robb, Peter. Midnight in Sicily: On Art, Food, History, Travel and la Cosa Nostra. Picador, 2007.

South of mainland Italy lies the island of Sicily, home to an ancient culture that—with its stark landscapes, glorious coastlines, and extraordinary treasure troves of art and archeology—has seduced travelers for centuries. But at the heart of the island's rare beauty is a network of violence and corruption that reaches into every corner of Sicilian life: Cosa Nostra, the Mafia. Peter Robb lived in southern Italy for over fourteen years and recounts its sensuous pleasures, its literature, politics, art, and crimes.

Benjamin, Sandra. Sicily: Three Thousand Years of Human History. Steerforth Press, 2010.

Tourists, armchair travelers, and historians will all delight in this fluid narrative that can be read straight through, dipped into over time, or used as a reference guide to each period in Sicily’s fascinating tale. Emigration of people from Sicily often overshadows the importance of the people who immigrated to the island through the centuries. These have included several who became Sicily’s rulers, along with Jews, Ligurians, and Albanians. Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Goths, Byzantines, Muslims, Normans, Hohenstaufens, Spaniards, Bourbons, the Savoy Kingdom of Italy and the modern era have all held sway, and left lasting influences on the island’s culture and architecture.

Mayes, Frances. See You in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in Italy.Crown Publishing Group, 2019.

In See You in the Piazza, Frances Mayes introduces us to the Italy only the locals know, as she and her husband, Ed, eat and drink their way through thirteen regions—from Friuli to Sicily. Along the way, she seeks out the cultural and historic gems not found in traditional guidebooks.

Tooze, Adam. Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World. Penguin Books, 2019.

In September 2008 the Great Financial Crisis, triggered by the collapse of Lehman brothers, shook the world. A decade later its specter still haunts us. As the appalling scope and scale of the crash was revealed, the financial institutions that had symbolized the West’s triumph since the end of the Cold War, seemed – through greed, malice and incompetence – to be about to bring the entire system to its knees. Crashed is an original analysis of what happened and how we were rescued from something even worse – but at a price which continues to undermine democracy across Europe and the United States.