Books about travel, especially to Greece
March 4, 2013 6:23 PM   Subscribe

As a gift for a friend, I'd like to find a book about Greece, but not a travel guide exactly.

My friend's birthday is in a week, and tonight she told me she's planning a solo trip this fall, probably to Greece. She perused a bookstore this weekend and could not find the kind of book she wants, so I'd like to surprise her with an awesome book when I see her for her birthday.

She's taking this trip for the love of travel, and to have some alone time for reflection. She hopes to spend time on the beach but is not particularly interested in sites that are typical points of interest. She might spend a day in any of Paris, Istanbul, or Venice before landing at her destination, and she actually hopes to spend time on two Grecian Islands.

The type of book she is (and now I am) seeking is something like, I guess, a narrative; maybe a fictionalized memoir or...? Fiction that gives a sense of Greek culture or travel experience.

Is this sounding any bells for anyone? Can you recommend a light, but engaging and informative read, even if maybe it's not exclusively about Greece but possibly including or about Italy or Turkey?

She wants a book about travel, essentially, but not a "guide".

posted by little_dog_laughing to Travel & Transportation around Greece (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Travels with Epicurus : a journey to a Greek island in search of a fulfilled life

A thought provoking book for sure. I do not know how old your friend is, this is a non-fiction book written by a thoughtful man in the last 25% of his life... Would be a good book for anyone to read who likes the examined life.
posted by jcworth at 6:41 PM on March 4, 2013

how about some of the books that patrick leigh fermor wrote? titles don't come to mind but he wrote magnificently about his travels in the era before and during world war two.
posted by holdenjordahl at 6:45 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Joanna Lumleys Greek Odyssey is a four part programme taking the viewer to some out of the way places. A very enjoyable watch. I believe you can watch all four episodes through this TVO venue.
posted by smudgedlens at 7:19 PM on March 4, 2013

Dinner with Persephone sounds exactly up your friend's alley. The author lived for about a year in Greece and describes her experience, good and bad.

Another option might be Traveling with Pomegranates, by Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter Ann. It's an interesting take on the Demeter-Persephone dynamic.
posted by calistasm at 7:47 PM on March 4, 2013

Patrick Leigh Fermor is a great suggestion, as he knew Greece very very well. Mani (1958) and Roumeli (1966) are his books on Southern and Northern Greece.

Also, Gerald Durrell wrote amusingly about life with his family on Corfu in the 1930's: My Family and Other Animals.
posted by gudrun at 8:00 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Patrick Leigh Fermor is considered to be both a masterly travel writer and a masterly writer about Greece. His books are fabulous.
posted by OmieWise at 5:04 AM on March 5, 2013

I second Patrick Leigh Fermor, and highly recommend The Flight of Ikaros: Travels in Greece During the Civil War by Kevin Andrews, recently reprinted in the beautiful and inexpensive edition I linked to; it's one of the best books on modern Greece I've read, and I've read a lot of 'em.
posted by languagehat at 7:58 AM on March 5, 2013

When I travelled solo through Greece I greatly enjoyed Henry Miller's 'impressionist travelogue' The Colossus of Maroussi.
posted by Dean King at 9:01 AM on March 5, 2013

Patrick Leigh Fermor loved Greece deeply, and was the finest travel writer of his generation.

I would not describe his books as "light" but would have no hesitation in recommending them anyway.
posted by mani at 2:37 PM on March 5, 2013

After thinking about this, I am coming back to suggest some of the 1960's mysteries of Mary Stewart. She loved Greece and set several books there. Though now a bit dated, they definitely qualify as light and are still enjoyable reads (with just the occasional cringe inducing line here and there). About the best is The Moon-Spinners (set on Crete), though My Brother Michael (Delphi) and This Rough Magic (Corfu) are also options.
posted by gudrun at 7:53 PM on March 7, 2013

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