My advice would be to search for online excerpts of the books that catch your eye. Amazon almost always provides a few free pages, and then you can find some sentences here and there when people mention their favorite paragraphs on websites like Anobii.
This one is taken from the incipit of Benni's L'ultima lacrima
. Italian syntax allows for longer sentences than English syntax, so you might be better off searching for authors who keep their sentences somewhat short, like Benni. Sometimes he inserts very looong sentences, but he is a heavy user of parataxis and this makes them still easy to read. The vocabulary is as colloquial as it can get here. From what I can tell by your replies on the forum, you should be able to at least get a general idea of what is happening in the text. A few words could be tough (salatini
- salted crackers, pansé
- a kind of flower, derived from French, becchetta
- from becchettare
, to hit something with your beak, here used as a figure of speech hinting at the tap tap
produced by high heels... as if they were as pointy as a beak!). Fammi sapere come va!
È tutto pronto in casa Minardi. La signora Lea ha pulito lo schermo del televisore con l'alcol, c'ha messo sopra la foto del matrimonio, ha tolto la fodera al divano che ora splende in un vortice di girasoli. Ha preparato un vassoio di salatini, un panettone fuori stagione, il whisky albionico e l'aranciata per i bambini. Ha lustrato le foglie del ficus, ha messo sul tavolino di vetro la pansé più bella. I tre figli la guardano mentre controlla se è tutto in ordine, si tormenta i riccioli della permanente e becchetta coi tacchi sul pavimento tirato a cera. Non l'avevano mai vista in casa senza pantofole.
I'd suggest you to stick to short stories in the beginning. When there are many words you don't know, reading can get boring, and then getting to the last page of a long novel will require every bit of your willpower. Short stories are a way to... fast gratification. You finish one and you're happy to know how it ends, so you want more. Taking little steps at a time is the key here, as you don't want to overload your brain with too many new words to learn. When I first read the Lord of the Rings - I wanted to run before I could walk, ha - I used to read 10 pages at a time... an odyssey, like Frodo's journey.
Then every author has their set of favorite words. If I had a dollar for every time I read "mummer's farce" in one of the GoT books, I'd be as rich as Uncle Scrooge! If you can get past the first dozens of pages of a novel, everything gets much easier because terms tend to repeat themselves.
Then, if you like fantasy, there's a great fantasy books reviews blog here: http://fantasy.gamberi.org/
It was last updated long ago but there are tens of articles available and they are really easy to read (there's a lot of sarcasm involved too, no sympathy for bad fantasy books). Books are not marked with stars but with shrimps, hence the name of the blog (gambero = shrimp)! :D
You might want to try a few comic books as well! If you like Disney characters, go for Topolino
. It's a weekly magazine that contains comic strips and articles aimed at youngsters, but it's perfect for a beginner-intermediate level.
Last but not least, this website: http://www.grimmstories.com/it/grimm_fiabe/index