Books Set in Greece
Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in southeastern Europe with thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas. Greece may be one of the most written-about countries, so while creating this list should be relatively easy it was agonizing trying to narrow things down!
Greece has the longest coastline and is the southernmost country in Europe. The mainland has rugged mountains, forests, and lakes, but the country is well known for the thousands of islands dotting the blue Aegean Sea to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Ionian Sea to the west. On your travels you can expect ancient sun-bleached ruins, piercing blue skies, the balmy Aegean lapping an endless coastline, and a culture alive with passionate music, wonderful cuisine, and thrill-seeking activities.
Greece a fantastic country that offers everything from beaches and islands to culture and history as well as delicious food and friendly locals that keeps visitors coming back. If you’ve never visited or you’re simply longing to go back, these books set in Greece are sure to transport you there and inspire a future adventure!
The Iliad by Homer (760–710 BC)
Sometimes referred to as the Song of Ilion or Song of Ilium, The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states. It tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.
The Odyssey by Homer (760–710 BC)
The Odyssey is a poem about violence and the aftermath of war; about wealth, poverty and power; about marriage and family; about travelers, hospitality, and the yearning for home.
The King Must Die by Mary Renault (1958)
In this ambitious, ingenious narrative, celebrated historical novelist Mary Renault take legendary hero Theseus and spins his myth into a fast-paced and exciting story.
Renault starts with Theseus’ early years, showing how the mystery of his father’s identity and his small stature breed the insecurities that spur his youthful hijinx. As he moves on to Eleusis, Athens, and Crete, his playfulness and fondness for pranks matures into the courage to attempt singular heroic feats, the gallantry and leadership he was known for on the battlefield, and the bold-hearted ingenuity he shows in navigating the labyrinth and slaying the Minotaur.
Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières (1994)
The Greek island of Cephallonia – peaceful, remote, famed for its beauty, its light, its mythic history – and only just beginning to enter the twentieth century when the tide of World War II rolls onto its shores. This is the setting for Louis de Bernieres’s lyrical, heartbreaking, and hilarious chronicle of the days and nights of the island’s inhabitants over fifty tumultuous years.
Little Infamies: Stories by Panos Karnezis (2004 )
In a nameless Greek village, the lives of its citizens–the priest, the whore, the doctor, the seamstress, the mayor–and even its animals–a centaur, a parrot that recites Homer, a horse called History–are entwined. As their lives intersect, their hidden crimes, their little infamies, are revealed, in a place full of passion, cruelty, and deep reserves of black humor.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (1956)
My Family and Other Animals is Gerald Durrell’s hilarious account of five years in his childhood spent living with his family on the island of Corfu. With snakes, scorpions, toads, owls and geckos competing for space with one bookworm brother and another who’s gun-mad, as well as an obsessive sister, young Gerald has an awful lot of natural history to observe. This richly detailed, informative and riotously funny memoir of eccentric family life is a twentieth-century classic.
The Names by Don DeLillo (1982)
Set against the backdrop of a lush and exotic Greece, “The Names” is a thriller, a mystery, and a moving examination of family, loss, and the amorphous and magical potential of language itself, “The Names” stands with any of DeLillo’s more recent and highly acclaimed works.
Greece: A Traveler's Literary Companion by Artemis Leontis (1997)
Discover Greece — a country that has inspired centuries of travel — through its best modern writers. Against a superb landscape of islands, rocks, caves, villages, windmills, vineyards, cities, ports, beaches, and ruins, all bathed in the rich light of the Mediterranean, these twenty-four stories draw from the long oral and written evolution of the Greek literary tradition. Incorporating myths, the meditative tranquillity of the region, and a past full of struggle and civil war, these stories are arranged by geographical region for the traveler and provide an enriching odyssey through the Greek landscape and mind.
It's All Greek to Me! by John Mole (2004)
Intoxicated with dreams of a Greek paradise, John Mole inflicts upon his family a tumbledown ruin on a hillside with no water, no electricity, no roof, no floor, no doors, no windows and twenty years of goat dung … far away from the tourist resorts and posh hotels.
Greek to Me by Mary Norris (2019)
Greek to Me is a charming account of Norris’s lifelong love affair with words and her solo adventures in the land of olive trees and ouzo. Along the way, Norris explains how the alphabet originated in Greece, makes the case for Athena as a feminist icon, goes searching for the fabled Baths of Aphrodite, and reveals the surprising ways Greek helped form English.
The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault (1956)
In The Last of the Wine, two young Athenians, Alexias and Lysis, compete in the palaestra, journey to the Olympic games, fight in the wars against Sparta, and study under Socrates. As their relationship develops, Renault expertly conveys Greek culture, showing the impact of this supreme philosopher whose influence spans epochs.
The Magus by John Fowles (1965)
A young Englishman, Nicholas Urfe, accepts a teaching post on a remote Greek island in order to escape an unsatisfactory love affair. There, his friendship with a reclusive millionaire evolves into a mysterious–and deadly–game of violence, seduction, and betrayal. As he is drawn deeper into the trickster’s psychological traps, Nicholas finds it increasingly difficult to distinguish past from present, fantasy from reality. He becomes a desperate man fighting for his sanity and his very survival.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2011)
A unique retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War. A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame and the human heart. The Song of Achilles is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure and an epic love story.
Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis (1946)
First published in 1946, Zorba the Greek, is, on one hand, the story of a Greek working man named Zorba, a passionate lover of life, the unnamed narrator who he accompanies to Crete to work in a lignite mine, and the men and women of the town where they settle. On the other hand it is the story of God and man, The Devil and the Saints; the struggle of men to find their souls and purpose in life and it is about love, courage and faith.
Afternoons In Ithaka by Spiri Tsintziras (2014)
A charming memoir of self-discovery, family, connection and the power of a tomato.
From the first heady taste of tomatoes on home-baked bread in her mother’s village in Petalidi, to sitting at a taverna some 30 years later in Ithaka with her young family, Spiri tsintziras goes on a culinary, creative and spiritual journey that propels her back and forth between Europe and Australia. these evocative, funny and poignant stories explore how food and culture, language and music, and people and their stories help to create a sense of meaning and identity.
The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller (1941)
Like the ancient colossus that stood over the harbor of Rhodes, Henry Miller s The Colossus of Maroussi stands as a seminal classic in travel literature. Miller headed out with his friend Lawrence Durrell to explore the Grecian countryside: a flock of sheep nearly tramples the two as they lie naked on a beach; the Greek poet Katsmbalis, the colossus of Miller s book, stirs every rooster within earshot of the Acropolis with his own loud crowing; cold hard-boiled eggs are warmed in a village s single stove, and they stay in hotels that have seen better days, but which have an aroma of the past. “
A Separation by Katie Kitamura (2017)
A searing, suspenseful story of intimacy and infidelity, A Separation lays bare what divides us from the inner lives of others. With exquisitely cool precision, Katie Kitamura propels us into the experience of a woman on edge, with a fiercely mesmerizing story to tell.
The Thread by Victoria Hislop (2011)
A beautiful and epic novel that spans nearly a hundred years, The Thread is a magnificent story of a friendship and a love that endures through the catastrophes and upheavals of the twentieth century–both natural and man-made–in the turbulent city of Thessaloniki, Greece.
The Two Faces of January by Patricia Highsmith (1964)
Originally published in 1964, and the winner of the CWA Best Foreign Novel Award, Patricia Highsmith’s The Two Faces of January is a chilling tale of suspense, suffused with her trademark slow, creeping unease.
The Girl Under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming (2012)
Back in 1941, the Greek island of Crete is captured by the Germans and the lives of two very different women are changed forever…
Sixty years after the invasion of Crete, Lois West and her young son, Alex, invite feisty Great Aunt Pen to a special eighty-fifth birthday celebration on the island, knowing she has not been back there since the war.
The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir by Tom Stone (2002)
Tom Stone went to Greece one summer to write a novel — and stayed twenty-two years. On Patmos, he fell in love with Danielle, a beautiful French painter. His novel completed and sold, he decided to stay a little longer.
The Summer of My Greek Tavérna is as much a love story as it is the grand, humorous, and sometimes bittersweet adventures of an American pursuing his dreams in a foreign land, a modern-day innocent abroad.
Honey, Olives, Octopus: Adventures at the Greek Table by Christopher Bakken (2013)
Combining the best of memoir, travel literature, and food writing, Christopher Bakken delves into one of the most underappreciated cuisines in Europe in this rollicking celebration of the Greek table. He explores the traditions and history behind eight elements of Greek cuisine–olives, bread, fish, cheese, beans, wine, meat, and honey–and journeys through the country searching for the best examples of each.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)
The story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan.
What do you think of these books set in Greece?
Have you been to Greece before or is it on your bucket list? Have you read any of these books set in Greece? Do you know any books set in Greece that I may have missed? Let me know your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions about Greece and books set there in the comments below!