Books to Read if You're Going to Greece

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Here we are, another week of Covid-19-induced lockdown later, and here’s another post from me containing book recommendations; this time books to get you in the mood for Greece…or perhaps you’re reminiscing? Either way, a literary feast awaits. Do you prefer fiction, memoirs,  poetry? Greece has inspired it all.

My visits to Greece started with childhood family holidays and I’ve been lucky enough to continue visiting over the years. The Greek islands hold a special place in my heart (it’s the sea and the sunsets!) but, the years I lived in Turkey mean the shared history of these countries is also especially interesting to me, and there's plenty of it!

Here, in no particular order, are some reading recommendations from me.

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes – Edith Hamilton
A trip to Greece without a basic knowledge of the epic tales of Greek mythology would be a waste! This is a massive book packed full of exciting tales of the many adventures and whims of the Greek Gods and the poor mortals who got in their way.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
A tenderly and humorously told love story about an Italian officer posted on Cephallonia in 1941 and a local girl, set against the backdrop of World War II. The book was also made into a film.

The Island – Victoria Hislop
A daughter’s desire to know more about her mother’s past takes her to Crete where she uncovers her intriguing family history, including her great-grandmother’s sacrifices to support a former leper colony.

The Thread – Victoria Hislop
This love story and family saga crosses between modern day and the 1920s. At times harrowing, it is based in Thessaloniki, and tells the story of a young girl separated from her mother while escaping a fire in the city. It introduces the reader to a lot of the turbulent history of that area.

The Girl Under the Olive Tree – Leah Fleming
An 85th birthday celebration takes a woman back to Crete and through her memories of the invasion in May 1941, exposes a long-buried secret.

My Family and Other Animals – Gerald Durrell
Hilarious account of the idyllic childhood spent on Corfu by a budding naturalist, with extra comedy provided by his long-suffering mother and the many adventures of his eccentric siblings, and their encounters with locals.

The Iliad – Homer
For lovers of the classics, Homer’s epic 8th century poem detailing the final weeks of the Trojan War and siege of Troy, will be a delicious feast.