Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Venice Book List: Bella Città; Bellissimi Libri

Venice is at the top of my armchair travel destinations. It is such a magical city. I love to be there. I love to think about it. And I love to read about it.

This is a list of books about Venice, including fiction, non-fiction, and cookbooks. It is not a comprehensive list. These are the books about Venice that are on my TBR shelf now (in blue), on my wish list, or that I have already read (in red).

There is a much lengthier list of Venice books on a great website called Fictional Cities, along with lists of books about Florence and London. 

Any suggestions? Please leave comments.

The general list is in alphabetical order, by title. Following that is a list of mysteries by Donna Leon featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, all set in Venice. The lengthy series is listed in publication order, starting with the first book in the series.


Alibi by Joseph Kanon (novel)

The Aspern Papers and Other Stories by Henry James (short stories)

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt (non-fiction)

The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan (novel)

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (novel)

Don't Look Now by Daphne du Maurier (short stories)

A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich (non-fiction)

The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain (non-fiction) (reviewed here);

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (novel)

Locations by Jan Morris (non-fiction) (reviewed here)

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare (play)

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro (short stories)

Serenissima by Erica Jong (novel) (reviewed here)

The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin (non-fiction; abridged)

Stone's Fall by Iain Pears (novel)

Stone Virgin by Barry Unsworth (novel)

Temporary Kings by Anthony Powell (novel)

Territorial Rights by Muriel Spark (novel)

A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi (non-fiction)

A Traveller's Companion to Venice, edited by John Julius Norwich (non-fiction)

Venetian Affair by Helen MacInnes (novel)

Venetian Holiday by David Campbell (novel)

Veneto: Authentic Recipes from Venice and the Italian Northeast by Julia della Croce (cookbook)

Venice Observed by Mary McCarthy (non-fiction)

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James (novel)

The World of Venice: Revised Edition by Jan Morris (non-fiction)


Death at La Fenice

Death in a Strange Country

Dressed for Death

Death and Judgment

Acqua Alta

Quietly in Their Sleep

A Noble Radiance

Fatal Remedies

Friends in High Places

A Sea of Troubles

Willful Behavior

Uniform Justice

Doctored Evidence

Blood from a Stone

Through a Glass, Darkly

Suffer the Little Children

The Girl of His Dreams

About Face

A Question of Belief

Drawing Conclusions

NOTE: Last updated December 28, 2012.


  1. Mary McCarthy's short Venice Observed (1956) is excellent, I suspect still good for travellers, a snapshot of Venice in the 1950s.

    I'm currently in the middle of John Ruskin's The Stones of Venice - an abridgement (Jan Morris has put one together) might be good.

    Norwich has a A History of Venice as well as the travel guide. I've read his amazing Byzantine history - no reason the Venetian book should be worse.

    None of these books are at that link - weird.

  2. AR: Thanks for the suggestions! I'll add two of them and consider the Ruskin. Cool!

  3. Here's the only book that I have but I think this one sets in Florence.

    The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant.

  4. Oh yes, the Ruskin, even an abridgement, is for the tourist who wants to get really serious about the architecture of St. Marks and so on.

    The others should have more general interest. McCarthy's book is quite short.

  5. PL: I'll give that one a look. Maybe I need to make a Florence list!

    AR: I've never tacked Ruskin. I don't know if the Venice book is the place to start. Other suggestions?

  6. I'm leafing through the Jan Morris abridgement of The Stones of Venice - maybe it's a better tourist book than I thought. 247 pages, some of it admittedly still skimmable.

    But try the abridged chapter on St. Mark's in 17 pages - Ruskin is a marvelous guide to the church, even when you can't see it. Start there and then work outward as you see fit.

  7. I liked Stone's Fall by Iain Pears which takes part partially in Venice (and is on that long list). Pears also has an art crimes series set in Venice that I enjoyed but unfortunately got rid of. Now I want to read them again!

  8. I can add two fantastic books to the list: Sarah Dunant's In the Company of the Courtesan and Jeanette Winterson's The Passion. What a great list of books! I can't wait to discover more during the Venice in February Challenge :)

  9. I read "The City of Falling Angels" last year and I didn't understand it. I am excited to give it another go here soon. :)


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