Italian literature is full of phenomenal authors. With important works such as the “Divina Commedia” (Divine Comedy) and “I Promessi Sposi” (The Betrothed), you can surely imagine that there are many authors, both historic and contemporary, that are worth reading.
So do we Italians actually read, or not?
Hi everyone and welcome back to this new episode of the Italy Made Easy Podcast, the podcast made specifically for students of Italian like you, that offers you interesting material with which you can practice your listening and comprehension.
Today, as you would have gathered, we are going to talk about literature, but not about any specific books. We’ll talk about the concept of reading for us Italians. I just asked you a question before, did you answer it? In your opinion, are we Italians big readers or not? The truth is… Not really. We aren’t really people who read a lot.
The statistics show that we read a lot less than other European countries, especially the northern countries. It’s also true that younger people read more than the over-50’s, which is a good thing, after all, right? The fact that young people read… I’m not complaining.
So then, why don’t we read that much? There are always many reasons and many excuses for this… Surveys that ask: “Do you read?... Why don’t you read?”, generally come down to exactly this - excuses. Mainly being a lack of time. We know that, like learning a language, it requires time. You’re listening to a podcast to improve your Italian, right? That means that you’ve found the time to do it.
The truth is that the reason many Italians don’t read is because reading isn’t considered very important, rather, it’s often viewed as something boring that you have to do when you’re at school, and then - when you’re done - you’re better off not doing it. This is a generalization; there are millions of Italians who read, books get published and are read. But in this regard, overall, we just aren’t big fans of reading.
New technologies haven’t really caught on in Italy yet, either. We have ebook readers, of course, there’s the Kindle… There’s all the ebooks you want, but… We Italians who do read, still prefer the paper version. The statistics say that 78% of Italians who read, read paper books, the traditional ones. You guys would think young people would read more using the new technology, but in my experience, this isn’t the case. My niece, who’s 16 years old, reads paper books. She physically buys the books and reads them. My mother and father, who are 70 years old, mainly read ebooks… I think they have a Kindle.
But let’s talk now about the Italians who do read. On average, Italians who read, read 24 books a year. So that’s more or less 1 book every 2 weeks, which is a pretty good average, it’s not too bad, is it?
Speaking, on the other hand, about what we like to read or what type of books we like to read, in first place among the genres that we like to read, we have… Guess what? Romantic books. Romance novels. I, personally, have never read a romance novel, but I believe the statistics also show that women read more than men… And so, in a way it kind of makes sense that romance novels come in first place.
In second place we have thrillers, crime novels, all things suspense that are also popular on television. All the television series about murders, lawyers, police… the same thing is reflected in literature, that is, to have a preference for thrillers. Pay attention to how I pronounce the word “thriller”. Also relatively successful is the genre of fantasy. If I were to take the list of the most read books from the past four years in Italy, you’d notice that many of them are fantasy novels… But above all - And truth is I’m happy about this - many of them are classics… And not just from Italian literature.
So, among the most-read books in Italy in the last 4 years we have - and this doesn’t surprise me: “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling. In second place we find “Cent’anni di Solitudine” (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel Garcia Márquez. Be careful of the pronunciation of all these foreign writers, as it’s quite interesting… I should do a podcast where I talk about the Italian pronunciation of foreign celebrities. I’ll write that down.
In third place is “Il Ritratto di Dorian Gray” (The Picture of Dorian Gray) by Oscar Wilde, followed by another English literary classic… “Orgoglio e Pregiudizio” (Pride and Prejudice) by Jane Austen. In fifth place we find “Il Signore degli Anelli” (The Lord of the Rings) by Tolkien, followed by a contemporary Italian literary classic, “Il Nome della Rosa” (The Name of the Rose) by Umberto Eco. Following these comes “Il Piccolo Principe” (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and “Se questo è un uomo” (If This is a Man) by Primo Levi, another really famous and renowned Italian writer.
Also very popular are all the crime novels by Agatha Christie and the series by Glenn Cooper such as “La Biblioteca dei Morti” (Library of the Dead).
And now I can answer the question I asked before. Is Manu, of Italy Made Easy, an avid reader, a diligent reader, or not? That depends on your point of view. The truth is that I don’t read many paper books. In a year, on average, I buy and read 4, 5, maybe 6 paper books, but I’m a huge consumer of audiobooks. Now, if you’re a purist, don’t get angry, as I have my reasons. I really am a busy person, I’m always here, working. That (sto sempre qua, a lavora') was an expression in Roman dialect. I really am so, so busy. But I like to learn new things, I like to take in new information… And so, I usually multi-task. If I’m in my car, driving, if I go somewhere, I listen to a book.
So, in this regard, maybe I read even more than the Italian average of 24 books a year… Not per month… As I really do listen to so, so many books. I think about 1 a week, on average.
What types of books do I read or listen to? Well, they aren’t romance novels, they aren’t thrillers, they aren’t crime novels… nor fantasy novels, I don’t like the fantasy genre, sorry if you’re a fan of fantasy, it’s just not my thing… I read, I listen to biographies - those that interest me - biographies of artists past and present, of entrepreneurs… And this is the topic that I truly like the most. And it’s this, learning new things about business, about entrepreneurship, about technical things that have to do with my work. Things like managing a website or stuff about marketing.
These things really “intrippano” me. “Intrippano” is a Roman word, I think, which means that it fills me with joy. Technically, “intrippare” means to fill up with food, but we use it to say that something fills us with enthusiasm, that we really like something a lot.
And now my question for you. Do you read? And if you read, what type of books do you read? And in which format? Do you prefer to read standard books, traditional paper ones, or do you use new technology such as ebooks or audiobooks? Yes, let’s include audiobooks too, as they’re also books.
That’s all for today. A big hug from me and I’ll see you - and we’ll talk - next week. Bye. All the best with your studying!