Forethoughts – ‘50 Novels’ #13: I’m Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti

Hey ciao everyone! Come è a tutti? …Hehehe..Ok enough of my atrocious attempt at trying to speak a different language. Let me assure you that I’m not suddenly turning Italian, because aside from anything else I’m just not good-looking enough :o)). No, my use of la bella lingua is simply to introduce the flavour of my next ‘50 Novels in One Year’ reading challenge choice – Niccolò Ammaniti’s I’m Not Scared, which if you haven’t guessed already, is a novel wholly Italian in nature.

Briefly, I’m Not Scared tells the story of a nine-year-old boy’s terrifying discovery at the dilapidated farmhouse that he is exploring with his friends one summer. It’s not only a discovery that he dare not tell anyone about, it’s a discovery that has a profound affect on him, one that shatters his childhood innocence. The cover blurb states – “I’m Not Scared is a devastatingly authentic portrayal of childhood as well as a marvellous and unputdownable piece of storytelling.”

I’m Not Scared has been on my ‘50 Novel’ reading list since I first started compiling it during the summer. I originally chose this 2001 Viareggio-Repaci Prize for Fiction winner as one of my 50 reads, not only because I wanted to add more of a cosmopolitan flavour to my list, but also because I’ve read so many good things about it. It’s been translated into more than 20 languages, adapted into a movie, and reviewers everywhere seem to be calling it an absolute ‘must read’; Boxall in his 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die for instance says I’m Not Scared is “the very best kind of coming-of-age novels”. Additionally, my 14-year-old daughter borrowed and read the copy I picked up a few weeks ago and hasn’t stopped raving about it since – so if it’s good enough for her persnickety taste then it’s good enough for mine :o).

My timing for reading I’m Not Scared is not just based on an eagerness to read it, although as you’ve seen this is a significant motivator. You may remember my post a couple of weeks ago announcing the launch of the translated version of Ammaniti’s latest novel The Crossroads in January? Well thanks to being in the right place at the right time the publishers have sent me out a copy of The Crossroads before launch so I’ve got that available to enjoy as well. So I’m reading both novels, back-to-back in a kind of Ammaniti Special, and I’m very excited about it!.

So there’s definitely a distinct case of Ammaniti fever going on around RobAround Mansion over this Christmas period and I couldn’t be happier. Edgar’s already raised the Il Tricolore on the flagpole and Mrs B. has gone to bake Amaretti biscuits in the kitchen. Before going to do that though, she locked me in the reading room and told me she won’t let me out until I scribe a written pledge that I’ll never to try to speak Italian again. For the sake of you guys I think she’s doing the right thing :o)

As always I’ll post my afterthoughts on both novels when I’ve finished them. Until then..[whispers]..Ciao!

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Adding it to my TBR pile. Thanks a lot. 😉

  2. Sounds like a must-read here too, Rob.

    Here’s a curious side-question: Are you reading any of your 50 top picks on your e-reader? I’m at that place now that whenever I want to add a book to my TBR list, I have to decide whether to get the “dead tree” edition or the Kindle edition. Sometimes that decision is harder than you might think. (Of course, sometimes the book isn’t available yet for Kindle, so that settles some of those decisions for me.)

    My end table next to my reading chair now has a smaller pile of books because of my Kindle, but there are still two paper novels there underneath the Kindle, plus the omnipresent book light when I don’t want to disturb hubby’s TV watching with the full table lamp.

    I will go see where I can find I’m Not Scared. After the lengthy historical novel I’m (re)reading right now, I think something like this might be a great next-book to read.

  3. Glad you’re enjoying it, Rob 🙂

  4. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

    Sarie – Done and dusted and what a magnificent novel it is. I’ll be putting up my ‘afterthoughts’ very soon! I presume this is a novel you have also read? How did you like it?

  5. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

    Linda – a couple of the titles in my 50 List will be read entirely via the ereader. Knut Hamsun’s Growth of the Soil and Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. Not many I know but the ereader is getting used almost exclusively for the both my Poe and Chehkov reading challenges, and it’s working magnificently. I’m well and truly in love with my Sony :o)

    Nice to see your Kindle is replacing some of your ‘dead tree’ editions. I think the next year mayl see a bit of a revolution in ebook reading. What do you think?

    As for I’m Not Scared – Get it! Read it! You’ll love it!

  6. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

    CB – As I said to Linda above – Get it! Read it! You’ll love it! 🙂

  7. I love reading your posts. You really make me laugh! 😀

    I have to add this book to my TBR pile. As I mentioned before, I love other cultures, and of this, Italian culture is my bread and butter. I am obsessed with Italy. I am thinking of how I can fit this into a challenge…I may have to change my pick for Italy for my 21 Cultures challenge…hmm…or maybe New Authors…Yes, yes, I will definitely be reading this book!

  8. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

    Rebecca – you say the nicest things. I’m touched, no seriously I AM!

    As for I’m Not Scared you most certainly DO have to add this to your TBR pile. I’ve yet to put up afterthoughts (although I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago *blush*) but I can tell you it’s a book that will stay with you forever. It’s full of Italian culture too, particularly culture of a rural flavour!