Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, if not the world. And if you’re dreaming of a family holiday to the Greek Islands, it might be worth learning more about the country through a good book. Below, check out this list of the best books to take with you on a family holiday to Greece. From historical fiction novels to short stories, these books will make your family adventure to Greece even more unforgettable.
What should you be reading ahead of your holiday to Greece?
#1 The Odyssey by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer is a captivating depiction of Homer’s epic poem from the 8th Century BCE, which follows the decade-long journey of Odysseus as he travels back home to his wife and son after the Trojan War.
In case you didn’t know, the Odyssey is one of the major ancient Greek poems dedicated to Homer. It’s one of the oldest forms of literatures still widely read today. Along with Iliad, the poem is divided into twenty-four books. The poem follows Odysseus, a Greek hero, on his journey home after the Trojan War. On his way home, he meets many challenges, such as storms at sea invoked by Poseidon and intense fights.
The Odyssey is a great book for those wishing to learn about Greek history and culture in preparation for your family holiday to Greece. Aside from learning about Greece’s rich culture and history, you’ll be taken to a world of cinematic drama and suspenseful events as you read through the pages. This is the perfect book to read when taking a family cruise tour of the Greek islands.
#2 My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
My Family and Other Animals is written by British naturalist Gerald Durrell. It’s an autobiographical book that narrates in an exaggerated and often fictionalised way the many years he lived as a child on the Greek island of Corfu, together with his siblings and widowed mother, between 1935 and 1939. While living in Corfu, he joyfully pursues his passion for natural history amid a chaotic and unconventional family life, which he brilliantly retold in this book.
The book will delight the animal lover and adventurer in you. Since it’s centred around family life, it’s the perfect book to take with you on a family holiday to Greece. It also includes some hilarious experiences with animals, shooting adventures gone bad, and loads of parties with unusual guests.
When Durrell’s family moved back to England and left Greece, a guard checking their passports described the family as a travelling circus with some staff. That’s exactly what you will feel reading this book. As per the Sunday Times, this is a “truly fascinating book that will leave you wanting more”.
#3 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
Written by Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is an evocative novel centred around Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer who is part of the occupying forces and is posted on the Greek island Cephalonia (Kefalonia). At first, Captain Corelli is ostracised by the locals. However, as time goes by, he has proven himself to be civilised and humorous.
A significant event in the novel is the massacre of the Italian troops by the Germans in September 1943. It happened due to the Italian troops’ resistance to surrender. They fought with the Germans for nine days until they ran out of ammunition. More than a thousand Italian soldiers died, and 5,000 others were massacred. They sent the rest to Germany, where 3,000 died as the ship that carried them drowned.
Set on the stunning island of Kefalonia, this book would be a great read for families heading to the island for a holiday. With sublime beaches, breathtaking natural beauty, and various opportunities for adventures, Kefalonia is the perfect setting for a relaxing family holiday. Make your holiday even more relaxing by staying in a Greek family villa, especially ideal for families with older teens and adults.
#4 Mythos by Stephen Fry
Published in 2017, Mythos is written by award-winning British author Stephen Fry. It’s a retelling of several ancient Greek myths that Fry selected. This book is humorous and filled with crackling, quick-witted dialogues, offering a fresh take on age-old Greek legends.
At the start of the book, Fry explained that no background knowledge is necessary to appreciate Greek mythologies and that there’s nothing intellectual or academic about them. They are entertaining, addictive, and astonishingly human. The stories featured in the book are mostly retellings of myths derived from Apuleius’s The Golden Ass/donkey, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Hesiod’s Theogony. Stephen Fry fell in love with these Greek mythologies as a child, which prompted him to retell these myths.
Greek Mythology is a significant part of Greek culture. It’s a set of stories about Greek gods and goddesses, heroes, and rituals of the Ancient Greeks. If you’re fascinated by Greek culture, this would be a great book to take on your trip to Greece.
#5 KeeKee’s Big Adventures in Athens, Greece
If you’re buying a book for your little ones coming with you to Greece, the KeeKee’s Big Adventures in Athens is highly recommended. It centres around KeeKee, a kitty who travels the world. In this book, KeeKee will explore Athens, one of the oldest cities in the world. This book is a wonderful way to introduce Athens to your kids.
The adventure starts the moment KeeKee land at the Parthenon riding her balloon. From here, KeeKee will take you on fun adventures that include running through the ancient Olympic Stadium, meeting the Greek gods, enjoying moussaka in Plaka, and so much more! This book perfectly illustrates why Athens is a must-visit destination in Greece.
Scroll through to the back of the book, and you’ll find a child-friendly pronunciation guide and glossary together with a well-illustrated map of the top things to see in Athens . This book is a wonderful travel guide to Greece that you can also read to your kids at bedtime.
What books, set in Greece, have you read? Would you recommend them to others? If so, please let us know in the comments below.