The Best Books about Greece

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Updated: September 29, 2020

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Tip: The Best Bookstore in Greece

Any true bibliophile visiting Greece should make a point of visiting Atlantis Books in Oia, Santorini. An independent bookshop sunk into an enchanting painted cave, Atlantis Books is lined floor to ceiling with books in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Since its opening in 2004, this tiny gem has earned a spot on just about everyone’s “Best Bookstores in the World” lists, all the time remaining true to its friendly, helpful, and utterly adorable vibe.

Stairs leading down into a colorfully-pained cave-style bookshop

Atlantis Books in Oia, Santorini

The 13 Best Books about Greece

Best books about Greece, Athens, the Greek Islands, and Greek History.

1. Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation – Roderick Beaton
2. The Rise of Athens: The Story of the World’s Greatest Civilization – Anthony Everitt
3. The Durrells of Corfu – Michael Haag
4. Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen – Mary Norris
5. Eleni – Nicholas Gage
6. The Odyssey – Homer
7. Zorba the Greek – Nikos Kazantzakis
8. The Colossus of Maroussi – Henry Miller
9. Santorini: Portrait of a Vanished Era – Robert A. McCabe and Margarita Pournara
10. Santorini: Volcano, Natural History, Mythology – Walter L Friedrich
11. My Greek Table: Authentic Flavors and Modern Home Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours – Diane Kochilas
12. Modern Greek Cooking: 100 Recipes for Meze, Entrées, and Desserts – Pano Karatassos and Jane Sigal
13. World Food Greece – Susanna Tee

The Best Books Set in Greece

  • Eleni – Nicholas Gage
    A haunting and inspirational true story in which a New York Times investigative reporter returns to his northern Greek homeland to unravel the mystery of his mother, a heroic woman who struggled to ensure her children’s survival and escape from the violence of the Greek Civil War. Non-fiction that reads like a novel.
  • Zorba the Greek – Nikos Kazantzakis
    An introverted and bookish narrator moves to Crete in the early 20th century to work on an abandoned lignite mine, and is soon accompanied by a lusty and larger-than-life Greek working man who eventually transforms his way of thinking and of experiencing the world.
  • The Colossus of Maroussi – Henry Miller
    In this seminal work of travel writing, the famous author and his friend Lawrence Durrell (see Prospero’s Cell, below) explore the Grecian countryside, Corfu, and Crete just before World War II. Henry Miller has said that of all his books, this is his favorite.
  • Corelli’s Mandolin: A Novel – Louis de Bernieres
    Sweeping and beautifully-written historical romance in which a young woman on the Greek island of Cephallonia is torn between two love interests amid the island’s Italian occupation during World War II.
  • The Durrells of Corfu – Michael Haag
    For fans of the BBC series “The Durrells in Corfu” or the writings of Gerald and Larwence Durrell, this book chronicles the real-life story of the Durrell family. Included are details of their lives before and after living in Corfu, and lives of the characters that feature prominently during their lives on the island.
  • The Corfu Trilogy – Gerald Durrell
    Charming series of memoirs (My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts, and Relatives, and Garden of the Gods) that explores a young boy’s move (along with his quirky family, including his older brother Lawrence, whose Prospero’s Cell also features on this list) from Britain to Greece in the 1930s, and his discovery of the wonders of Corfu’s flora, fauna, people, and culture. Recently adapted as an award-wining television series by BBC Masterpiece.
  • The Island – Victoria Hislop
    Historical novel set in a Greek seaside village in World War II. A 25 year-old British woman travels to Crete to untangle the secrets of her mother’s homeland and the former leper colony that haunts her family’s history.
  • Little Infamies: Stories – Panos Karnezis
    Series of intersecting short stories featuring the disparate and colorful characters who live in a small, unnamed Greek village. Inventive, darkly funny, and lyrically-written.
  • Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese – Patrick Leigh Fermor
    A travel-writing adventurer, described by some as “a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Graham Greene,” explores the rugged southernmost tip of the Peloponnese peninsula. Alongside beautiful and florid descriptions of the country (a dictionary is sometimes required) are exerpts on Byzantine history, Greek culture and religion, and more. Companion piece to Roumeli, which chronicles the author’s journey through northern Greece, including the phenomenal Meteora monasteries.
  • North of Ithaka – Eleni Gage
    The granddaughter of the heroic woman described in the book Eleni (see above) travels to her ancestral Greek village to rebuild her grandparents’ home.
  • Prospero’s Cell: Guide to the Landscape and Manners of the Island of Corfu – Lawrence Durrell
    Eloquent and beautifully-written, this book of travel essays is compiled from the author’s 1935-1939 diary entries, during his time spent living on the island of Corfu. Musings on philosophy and Greek culture are found alongside evocative descriptions and day-to-day adventures with Durrell’s wife, Nancy, and his family. (Lawrence Durrell is the older brother of Gerald Durrell, whose Corfu Trilogy also features on this list.)
  • Scorpionfish – Natalie Bakopoulos
    A Greek-American woman moves back to her family’s home in Greece after the tragic death of her parents, renews connections with old friends, and is inspired by new neighbors and the surrounding city. Very evocative of the modern-day city and culture of Athens.

The Best Books on Greek History and Culture

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