by Melinda Gallo

Reading Italian books and magazines

I love to read, but I'm very picky about what I read. It's hard for me to find good Italian books by Italian authors that I love. I don't normally read in Italian unless I'm in Italy. For some reason, the words seem to make more sense when I'm here. As if I can hear them more in my head.

I've read many books by Susanna Tamaro, like "Dove ti porta il cuore." I like her style although a lot of my Italian friends can't appreciate her writing at all.

I tried reading a book by an Italian intellectual (whose name escapes me now), but I had to look up a word in almost every sentence. And the worst part was that the words weren't even in my dictionary. I got so frustrated that I just gave up.

I have found a few Italian writers that I love. I just read "Cento colpi di spazzola prima di andare a dormire", which is a diary written by a 16-year old Sicilian girl. Friends of mine read it in one night, but I couldn't. I wanted to savor it. The ending was beautiful and worth the wait.

I have read all of the books written by Banana Yoshimoto, a Japanese writer, in Italian. It was great for me because I believe that the translations were done well enough that the words weren't Japanese.

I'm now reading books by a Belgian writer, Amélie Nothomb, in Italian and yet I can almost taste the French words. She uses expressions that when translated sound French to me, like avere aria (avoir l'air) and bizzarro (bizarre). Words that are, of course, used here, but not as much as in France and other French-speaking countries.

I've also read some of Paolo Coelho's books and because I don't know any Spanish (the language in which he wrote his books), I assume that the books are translated properly.

I like reading American authors as well sometimes. I read a small book by Deepak Chopra that was interesting. I learned a lot of words that I don't normally hear in conversation. A lot of words that seem like they were lifted from English.

My favorite reading, for learning Italian, comes from magazines. Italian magazines that were written in Italian and not translated from another language. I love reading the letters that people write, the responses, the articles, the interviews. I feel like I'm getting another perspective of the Italian language.

Reading offers me that opportunity to listen to the minds of Italians. I can hear them speak on TV or in the street, but in magazines and books, there is another level that I appreciate and welcome.

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