Five Books Set in Italy

Italy is one of the countries I dream of visiting. How amazing would it be to be able to spend a month travelling around such a stunning place that exhales history in every corner? While I save money to one day go on that adventure, I content myself with reading books set there, either in their entirety or just partially. There are five books set in Italy that I read in recent years and that I wholeheartedly recommend, despite not considering them perfect nor necessarily favourite books of mine.


The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The casual humorous tone and the subtle irony of The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim make a simple plot shine. A group of women decides to rent a small medieval castle in Italy during the month of April. Their reasons for that are different, but those charming holidays will make all of them see their lives in a new light. The evocative descriptions of their surroundings are wonderful.


My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The first book in The Neapolitan Novels is merely the initial taste of the story of a convoluted friendship that will last for years. Elena and Lila have lived in the same neighbourhood in Naples for a significant part of their lives. As readers learn more about the two friends, they also get a thought-provoking picture of Italian society, since their story is complemented by reflections on class, equality, social mobility and the role of education. Continue reading


‘EU Still 28’ Authors to Continue Reading

Throughout 2018 I read one book by an author from each of the present-day 28 EU members states. I called this project ‘EU still 28’. Some of the books that I read were written by authors whose work I was already familiar with. Others, on the other hand, were penned by writers whom I had never read a book by before.

My first time reading certain authors left me eager to know more about their work. Taking into consideration not only my enjoyment of the books that I read but also my interest in the other ones that are currently available in a language that I can read fluently (Portuguese and English), in the future I will certainly read more books by the eight authors listed below.


Robert Seethaler

To represent Austria, I read The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. Having as main character Franz Huchel, it’s a story about sexual awakening set at the time of the rise of Nazism. I now want to read A Whole Life, which is about the return of a soldier to his village in the Alps after the Second World War. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – October 2018

I normally try to choose a single favourite from the books that I’ve read, the TV series that I’ve watched and, more unsuccessfully, the music that I’ve listened to during a specific month. However, as I was struggling to decided which book and TV series were my favourites from October, I ended up opting to mention two of each. I enjoyed them almost equally, thus they truly deserve a mention in this instalment of my monthly favourites.

I’ve only read three books last month. And I say only, because I could have read more, if I had not spent around a week persevering through Freedom and Death by Nikos Kazantzakis just to end up not finishing it. But this post is about my favourites, and one of them is Tula by Jurgis Kuncinas. It tells the story of a man struggling with an alcohol addiction, while recollecting his love for Tula. Throughout the book, there are plenty of astonishingly beautiful passages that convey great emotion.

My other favourite book from the month of October is Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb. Mihály and Erzsi are a newlywed couple trying to come to terms with what they want from their lives. They married for opposing reasons, and Mihály is plagued by nostalgia for his youth. There are some genuinely funny moments and a great depiction of ambiances in various occasions. Continue reading

‘Journey by Moonlight’ by Antal Szerb

My rating: 4 stars

Set in the early 20th century, Journey by Moonlight by the Hungarian author Antal Szerb tells the story of a newlywed couple struggling to come to terms with their purpose in life. Were they supposed to conform to what society expected from them? Did they genuinely want to break away from the norm? Thirty-six-year-old Mihály, the main character, was finding especially challenging to decide what to do, seeing that he was plagued by nostalgia for his youth.

Mihály and Erzsi went on a trip around Italy for their honeymoon. While in Venice, one night he decided to wander around the back-alleys alone. When he returned to the hotel, Erzsi was worried and asked him why he hadn’t told her where he was going and why he hadn’t taken her with him. He felt offended and resentful. But that was only the beginning of their disagreements. Erzsi, who had been married before to Zolfán Pataki, didn’t fully understand Mihály at first and was sure that he didn’t understand her neither, because he didn’t concern himself with the real feelings of others.

Their next destination was Ravenna. There they received an unexpected visit from János Szepetneki, one of Mihály’s old friends. During a cryptic conversation at the local piazza, he told Mihály that he had managed to trace Ervin’s whereabouts. This encounter encouraged Mihály to tell Erzsi about the deceased Tamás Ulpius. When he was young, Mihály suffered from various nervous symptoms. One of them was feeling and seeing a whirlpool on the ground near his feet. Once at Castle Hill in Budapest, Tamás helped him when the whirlpool effect was taking much longer to disappear than usual. Continue reading

Book Haul – September / October 2018

We are less than three months away from the end of the year, and I still have quite a few books left to read in order to complete my ‘EU still 28’ reading project. Last month, I realised that I needed to buy some more of the books on my predetermined list. I obviously also took the opportunity to order a couple of other ones in preparation for winter, although I’m not normally a seasonal reader. Every excuse is a good one when it comes to justify buying books, though!

Below are the nine newest additions to my shelves:


Tula by Jurgis Kuncinas

Written by the Lithuanian author Jurgis Kuncinas, Tula takes place in a poor neighbourhood in Vilnius. The narrator dwells in the fringes of society and meets various other curious inhabitants of the same area. I don’t know much more about this book, which I believe also involves a love story. Continue reading