I love reading about Venice. It’s a good way to daydream about the city when I’m not there and I wish I was. Reading almost turns into watching an imaginary movie as I recognize the surroundings, buildings or streets and I follow the characters in their story. It’s also a very fun way to discover new things in Venice. I have often stepped in the footsteps of these fictive characters on our trips to Venice: I know where they live, work or died, I have eaten in the same restaurants or I visited their favourite places.
I have listed below a selection of novels from my personal bookshelf, and behind this link the novels in Dutch.
I also read a lot as a preparation for my trips or out of curiosity to better understand the dynamics and history of the city. If you are interested in these books, you might want to take a look at this page.
This historical novel tells the story of John Law, who invented the paper money in the 17th century. His passion for women and gambling brings him from Paris and London to Venice, where he becomes a regular at the gambling tables in the palazzos. The novel combines romance, suspense and history.
This historical love story truly conveys the romantic aspects of Venice. The forbidden love between Andrea and Giustiniana is set in the 18th century and the author makes you feel part of high society, their parties, theatres and the culture of that time.
Venice seems like heaven for the courtesan Fiammetta and the dwarf Bucino, when they escape Rome in 1527. Of course, the city has a lot of secrets and temptations. When they meet La Draga, a young and blind healer, their lives change completely. The characters in this historical novel wander across all sestieri and let you experience the daily life back then.
When a ship enters Venice in 1576, it carries the bubonic plague as a ‘present’ from the Turkish sultan. The dogue asks Palladio to build a large church as an offering to God to rescue the city, but Palladio becomes ill. The beautiful young doctor Feyra was also on board of the ship, to escape her future as a concubine of the sultan. This is an intriguing novel with a strong woman as the main character.
Goodwin combines in this literary thriller the suspense of crime fiction with the historical ties between Venice and Istanbul in 1840. The detective Yashim has to trace back a stolen painting for the sultan and gets lost in the art scene in Venice where murders seem to be part of daily life.
Even though it is carnival time in Venice, Teresa Lupo does not come to the city to enjoy the festivities. She has to find her beloved bohemian aunt Sofia who has mysteriously disappeared. The thriller mainly plays in the Dorsoduro district and also lets you discover many unknown aspects of carnival, while keeping you in suspense on the whereabouts of Sofia.
This crime story is completely different from any other I have read. The book is set in two Venices, the physical world and its virtual counterpart Carnivia.com. When a dead female priest is found at the Santa Maria della Salute, Carabiniere Katerine Tapo must solve her first murder case in this complex environment.
When Lydia walks back from the fish market towards the Rialto Bridge, she glimpses a young man’s face in the crowd. He reminds her of a dreadful secret she believed she had banished to the past. This story about a family tragedy tends towards chicklit, but it can certainly also be enjoyed by men who like a bit of romance.
In his 23rd adventure, commissario Brunetti gets confronted with the theft of pages from rare books at a – fictive – historical library in Venice. Of course, there is also a murder to solve …. I wasn’t aware of this type of theft, as I would never tear a page out of a book, but it got me thinking about the value of books.
The crime novels with commissario Brunetti are my favourite reading as the author describes the city in so much detail that you easily recognize the different places in the story. In this book, Brunetti tries to overcome the fact that his apartment doesn’t have the right building permits in the typical Venetian way, but is then confronted with the sudden death of the local bureaucrat handling his file.
I will regularly add new books, so keep an eye on this page or subscribe to The Venice Insider newsletter if you don’t want to miss new titles. You can for instance find the top 10 books that were published in 2016 and that are set in Venice behind this link.
If you have any suggestions for good books, feel free to share them with The Venice Insider community in the comments fields below.
PS: Several links in this post are affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you when you order a book.
SHARE THIS POST WITH YOUR FRIENDS ON