top ten tuesday: favorite settings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

August 13: Top ten favorite books with ____ setting

The team over at the Broke and the Bookish say to pick whatever setting you like: “futuristic world, set mostly in schools, during World War II, books set in California, etc.” Since I mentioned my fascination with the Mafia and true crime in a recent post, I thought I’d pick that for my Top Ten Tuesday today! However, after looking back it appears I’ve only actually read six mafia-themed books, but I’ve included four that I want to read to make it an even ten. In no particular order:

1. The Mafia and the Machine by Frank R. Hayde
I loved learning about the history of organized crime in my town, Kansas City!

2. Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi
A deeper look into the story of Henry Hill and his life and involvement with the New York City Mafia from the 1950s–90s. The movie Goodfellas is based on this book.

3. Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott
Set in turn-of-the-century 1900s Chicago, this one is about the most famous and controversial brothel of the era. The Everleigh sisters were trying to bring some class and sophistication to the sex industry, but were met with Puritanical opposition left and right.

4. The First Family by Mike Dash
An excellent history of the roots of the American Mafia in the 1890s–1920s, focusing on the migration of organized crime from Sicily to the United States and criminal mastermind “The Clutch Hand” Giuseppe Morello and his cronies.

5. Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano
Half exposé and half narrative, Saviano tells his personal account of how organized crime has influenced and infiltrated every aspect of life in Italy, with most of his focus on the Camorra in the southern Campania region and its capital, Naples.

6. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The one, the only.

7. The Girls of Murder City by Douglas Perry *want to read
I’ve seen some good reviews of this one! It’s the true story of two women in Jazz Era Chicago who murdered their gentlemen-friends covered by a brazen “girl reporter,” and who inspired the musical Chicago.

8. Black Mass by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill *want to read
The subject matter of this one reminds me a little of the movie The Departed: two boys grow up on the streets of Boston, one goes into the FBI, one the Irish mob. A deal struck between the two men to bring down the Italian mob in exchange for the Irish gangster’s protection leads to one of the biggest FBI informant scandals ever.

9. Capone: The Man and the Era by Laurence Bergreen *want to read
A biography of Chicago’s most notorious gangster during the Prohibition Era.

10. Five Families by Selwyn Robb *want to read
Appears to be a quintessential read on the American Mafia, a highly detailed history, and probably a good one to follow The First Family.


11. Donnie Brasco by Joseph D. Pistone and Richard Woodley *want to read
The non-fiction memoir on which the classic (well, at least to me) Johnny Depp movie is based.

[ETA: Not having to do with mafia, but I’m counting a few more true crime books as honorable mentions: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson).]

What setting for books have you been loving lately (or forever)?

14 thoughts on “top ten tuesday: favorite settings

  1. Ooooh, is that Capone book new? I’d love to read a good bio about him. He had a hideout here in northern Wi and I’m a bit fascinated by him 😉

  2. LOL – I had this same problem! I kept coming up with great settings and then realized I’d only read a few books with those settings. I finally settled on Southern Novels. I love that you picked such a unique setting.

    Happy TTT!


    • Thanks! I checked out yours too and was impressed. I love “inhabiting” a space or time through a series of books on the subject! I love that feeling that you just can’t get enough 🙂

  3. The only one I’ve read on here is The Godfather and I really liked it. I also thought the novel translated to film really well (which is always a pleasant surprise).

    • I’ll take a look at it on Goodreads, thanks for the rec! Gommorah was intense but really good. Reading the book made the film make a lot more sense to me. Have a good one! 🙂

  4. Well isn’t this original! I’ve seen so many posts today on boarding schools and dystopia that this feels like a breath of fresh air! While I’ve never been intruiged by the Mafia before, I would totally be open to a great Mafia book. Which do you like best?

    • Aww, thanks! Yeah I noticed a lot of dystopia & school lists too, and lots set in wartime. Well, the Broke & Bookish team had good suggestions from their homepage, I guess!

      Hmm, of the six Mafia books that I’ve read up there… probably The First Family and Gomorrah were the ones I liked the best. As much as I love The Godfather, truth/history is stranger than fiction, I suppose! 🙂

Leave a Reply to kristinshafel Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s