“Italy in books” - reading challenge 2011

Why this challenge? This year I’ve decided to host a reading challenge because I think that they are a brilliant idea. They help to make reading a more collective experience and are a great way to find out more about any particular author / genre / topic and get to know about books you might never have come across. I chose this topic because - as an Italian who has been living abroad for many years now - I feel the need to learn more about my home country and I’m curious to see the difference between the way it is portrayed by native Italians and others.

The details of the challenge

  • The challenge will run from January, 1st 2011 to December, 31st 2011.
  • The aim of the challenge is to read at least 12 books that are set in Italy. Whether written by Italian authors or not, it doesn’t matter. They don’t have to be set exclusively in Italy but this country needs to play a significant role in the book. The challenge can include non-fiction books about Italy. You can also review Italian learning books but this is limited to a maximum of two titles. See the section “Resources” below for some suggestions.
  • The challenge is open to bloggers and non bloggers alike.
  • There will be monthly prizes for participants.

How to sign up

  • If you are a blogger: create a post about taking part in the challenge and link back to this post. After that, click here and register. In the URL field you need to indicate the URL of the challenge-related post, not the general URL of your blog.
  • Also for bloggers: display on your sidebar the challenge-related image that you can also find on my sidebar. To do this, copy and paste the following code.
  • If you are not a blogger: click here and register. In the URL field, just put n/a.
  • I will constantly update the list of participants.

What to do once you’ve read a book

  • If you are a blogger: write a review on your blog and link back to the challenge-related monthly post that I will create at the beginning of every month. After that, click on the relevant link to send me your review. In the URL field you need to indicate the URL of the relevant post, not the general URL of your blog.
  • If you are not a blogger: click on the link in the challenge-related post that I will create at the beginning of every month to send me your book review.
  • Everyone who sends in their reviews during a specific month will be entered into a prize draw. Details to follow at the beginning of every month.


  • You don't need to select your books at the beginning of the challenge. You can choose them as you go. If you do want to make a list of the books you aim to read, don’t feel bound to it.
  • Need ideas?
    a) Visit http://www.amazon.co.uk/, enter “Italy” (or Tuscany, Italian etc.) in the search box. On the left-hand column of the results page, you will find a box called Listmania! Enter your keyword again in the “Search Listmania!” box and click “go”. You will be directed to a page containing lists of relevant boos compiled by users of the website.
    b) Visit http://www.whichbook.net/ and select “Italy” as the setting. If you’ve never used this website, you can find a useful demo on the homepage.
    c) Visit http://www.packabook.com/ and choose “Italy” on the left-hand column.


I think this is an excellent idea.
LindyLouMac said…
Lots of my blog readers are fans of Italy so I will go and retweet for you now :)
Thank you for your comments and your help in spreading the word about this challenge. I hope you will join too!
LindyLouMac said…
I might be tempted but over the years I have already read a lot of books set in Italy and even reviewed a few on my own blog recently! Also it is not always easy for me to get hold of specific books. This challenge may prove to be an expensive one for me to enter?
Anglers Rest said…
Thanks for posting this. I'm planning to take part
jeane said…
Looooking forward to it!!!!!!
@ Jeane: Me too! :o)

@ Anglers Rest: Thanks for signing up! Please remember to create a post on your blog about the challenge. I want to reach as many people as possible.

@ LindyLouMac: It would be great to have you on board! You don't need to read specific books, any that are partly or entirely set in Italy will do...
Italian Notes said…
Great initiative which I have tried to promote through link from my Facebook page http://bit.ly/dbrtAg
@ Italian Notes: Thank you! I hope you will join too!
Brit_it said…
Hi BB... will help you publicise..and take part!
Debs said…
Interesting challenge...12 books about Italy in a year is probably a bit steep for me though...I live in Italy, but tend to be attracted to books set elsewhere in the world! Have tweeted it from both @DeborahSwain and @livinginitaly
@ Brit_it: Thank you for your help! I look forward to your signing up!

@ Debs: True, the goal of the challenge is to read 12 books set in Italy over 12 months but nothing happens if you join and can't complete the challenge. Even if you read only one book, you will be entered in a monthly prize draw... and you'll get the chance to see what the others have been reading. There might be some great books waiting for you to learn about them! Think about it :o)
monica cesarato said…
I just joined, I have already two books which I am going to review, so cannot wait for January!
@ Monica Cesarato: Thanks for joining! Look forward to the official start of the challenge in January!
I absolutely love this idea. Such a great way to share books we love about a country we love. I'm especially a fan of those surrounding the food of Italy or historical fiction involving art and/or a cortigiana :-). I'm in! My post will be up shortly.
I think this is a great idea!
Thank you, I hope you'll join too!
AJ said…
Superb idea. Just stumbled upon your blog after reading a tweet from 'sognoitaliano'. Definitely considering taking part in this, and I think I'd try to read most of the books in Italian too. It's good practice for me :)
Thank you, AJ! Please don't be put off by the number of books to read. That seems to be the main concern for many people... but nothing bad will happen if you read less, I promise!! Have you been learning Italian for a long time?
Adrienne said…
if I understood well, to participate I can read any book of my choice and in the language of my choice, if it is about Italy?
Hi Adrienne! You're absolutely right, as long as you write in English what you thought about it. Hope you'll join!
Adrienne said…
why in english?
I will read in french and in italian, and write in french ;-)
my english is too poor...
One of the aims of this challenge is to swap opinions with the other participants so we need a common language! I'm sure your English is going to be fine!
I love reading books in Italian and set in Italy so I'm very tempted. Can I spread my reviews over both my blogs? Can I include poetry?
Lucinda Byatt said…
Thanks for this great idea! I've added it to my blog and look forward to reading along with you.
Great to be having you on-board, Lucinda!

Juliet, do join! You can certainly include poetry and you can publish the reviews wherever you wish. You will just need to send me a link to them. And, please, I know I set a number of books to read over a year but nothing really happens if you don't reach that target. I didn't know this was going to scare so many people off!
Yes I'm going to do this as well! I'll post most of the reviews on my Over 40 Shades blog but some might end up on Crafty Green Poet. I have at least four books already and shouldn't struggle to find more!
This comment has been removed by the author.
tesorotreasures said…
I am very interested in participating as well - once the Holidays are over, I will post on my blog!!! Thanks for the great idea, and it sounds like lots of fun :)
winstonsdad said…
Hi sorry to while to reply have posted about challenge ,here is my post http://winstonsdad.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/italian-reading-challenge/
Hi Barbara! I look forward to your joining the challenge :o)
Jeane said…
I am reeeeeeady to start!!!!
parrish lantern said…
Spotted this challenge on stuart's blog (Winstonsdad) & have entered & posted
Hi Parrish! I am going to update the list straight away. I was away for a few days and I have to add the names manually! Thanks for joining :o)
Jeane said…
Who is reading what for the first month? I am reading The name of the rose and have zero idea about what it is. I am not used to read a book without any already known thoughts, ideas but it seems a good story.
Am still reading two books that are not related to any of my two challenges and haven't decided what I will be reading next. I read The Name of the Rose when I was 12. It was such a difficult book but I remember enjoying it. Maybe I should re-read it one day...
Packabook said…
Am all signed up - blog post posted and button in the sidebar. Now just trying to figure out which book to read first! And thanks for the mention as a resource above, hopefully it will give people lots of ideas.

Suzi from Packabook
tesorotreasures said…
I have joined and set up my blog page with the picture (which by the way is very attractive!!!) But...I have to wait to read my first "Italian" novel because of this huge fat book I started last week which, I don't believe, has anything to do with Italy. Darn! Bad planning on my part!!! Ha! Ha!
Look forward to reading all the reviews as they start coming in :)
Hi Barbara! If it's any consolation, I haven't started reading my first book for the challenge either!
tesorotreasures said…
Hi Again...I was wondering how we go about reading the reviews that are submitted in this challenge. Thanks!!! And...I have just begun my book for this month! Yippee!
Hello! The reviews will start being published on the blog from the 14th January. Only a couple of days left!
LindyLouMac said…
As I have recently come across a couple of titles I could use for this challenge I have decided to join in after all! Will do a post when I start participating if that is ok, but will meanwhile add the badge to my sidebar.
lisa said…
What a beautiful idea. I have already inserted the critique of my first book "Due di due" by Andrea De Carlo. I have brought him with me from Italy and I have ended him just now. Excuse for my English. And' from little that I am to London. Have you ever read this book? Is it all right for the contest?
@ LindyLouMac: I am glad you've decided to join the challenge after all. Please don't forget to send me your details via the link above (in the section "How to sign up"). And happy reading!

@ Lisa: Thanks for joining the challenge and for sending in your review. I have read books by De Carlo before but I don't think I've read "Due di due". It's a great book for the challenge!
Patricia said…
OK, I need some guidance, por favore! This is my first Challenge and I am not sure how they work. I have read my first book, I have posted my review and I have linked back to you. My question is, How do I find the reviews from the others who are participating in the challenge? For example, Lisa said she has submitted her review, but I see no link to her.
Hi Patricia! Don't worry. This is my first challenge too so we're learning together! You can find all the challenges submitted during January here: http://bit.ly/g2325F I will update the list as soon as I can - I am currently on holiday with limited Internet access.
Pete said…
What a great idea! OK, I'm in. Let's see if I can read a book before the end of January!
Scribacchina said…
Hello! I found your blog and this challenge through the Novel Challenge blog and was happy to discover a fellow Italian blogger! I'm in for this challenge (here's my sign-up post), great idea!
Claudia said…
Having just purchased two Italian-centric books (with plans for more), I will join you. I have read many of the "obvious" ones and the choices of you and the readers will be exciting. Look forward to new worlds in 2011.
Hi Claudia! I don't seem to have received your sign-up details. I look forward to your joining the challenge!
I just posted on the challenge and registered - so excited for this one! Coffee and a Book Chick: Challenges and Readalongs
I just found out today about this challenge and would love to participate. I've missed the month of January, but I'll be keeping up thereafter. What a wonderful idea and I'm a big reader of Italian historical fiction. Thanks for doing this. Mirella Patzer - History and Women
Lieder Madchen said…
Here is my start-up post! This is a lovely challenge. :) http://liedermadchen.blogspot.com/2011/02/italy-in-books-reading-challenge-2011.html
Hello Lieder Madchen! Can you please send me your details via this link? http://bit.ly/h8M4Hm Thanks!
GG Husak said…
Hi, Brighton,
This is such a great idea. I've actually written a book about Italy, but love to read what others have said, too. I plan to start right away since 2011 is underway.
I've read Tim Parks' books but like the other suggestions.
I'd be happy to submit a copy of Passeggiata: Strolling Through Italy for review if you are interested.
Thanks for a great idea!
GG Husak
Rachel said…
Last year was my year to read two great mystery series set in Italy, and I would recommend them to anyone: Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti series and Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series. Both have intriguing, complex characters, wonderful writing and some great food/music/art references.
Lynda said…
Half way through the year - but I'm in ;0)

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