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Top 10 books set in Greece

Books have inspired many to pack their bags, leave home and set off on an adventure. We're not suggesting that you leave your house forever – just have a fantastic holiday in Greece as a result of reading an awesome book set in the country.

The literature on this list ranges from daring stories to simply fantastic love tales. We think you'll enjoy them, and maybe they'll inspire you to gather enough material to write your own when you return home.

It's All Greek To Me! by John Mole

John Mole took the brave step of relocating to the island of Evia, just east of mainland Greece, and actually did what many of us dream about – he renovated a disused house, and made it habitable for both him and his family.

This book is funny, the local characters are fantastic, and the mad dog Hector is simply bonkers. If you're tempted to emigrate to a remote Greek village as a result of your magical holiday, read this book first.

The Odyssey by Homer

The ultimate in travel stories, this ancient poem recounts the many adventures of Odysseus and his crew as they try to make their way home to Ithaca following the Trojan war. They took the long way around for a 1055-kilometre trip, and the epic journey took 10 years. Some of the characters you'll meet en route are extraordinary, from lotus eaters to witches and cannibals. Although a myth, some of the destinations are based on fact and you can still check out many of the locations yourself.

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

You may have seen the TV series but the book is said to be better. It's set on Corfu and follows the adventures of the Durrell family when they moved to Corfu in between the wars. The stars of the book are the family and their island friends, though animals and wildlife come a close second. From murderers and ebullient taxi drivers to colourful tales of family life, this book exudes character and fun.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Set in wartime Greece and based on the island of Kefalonia, this wonderful romance features a mandolin-playing Italian Captain, Pelagia – the beautiful daughter of the island's doctor – and a whole assortment of other lively characters. The book is so much better than the film, capturing brilliantly the full range of human emotions of love, laughter and sadness. It's a story of how people cope with tragedy and triumph over adversity.

The Magus by John Fowles

Follow the adventures of Nicholas, a young English teacher and aspiring poet, and his friendship with a local millionaire, Maurice Conchis. Set on Greek island Spetses, Nicholas soon falls in love with the idyllic location and under the spell of Conchis who plays an increasingly Machiavellian role. Some of the games played by Conchis are based on the Greek myths. This compelling novel will have you gripped as you follow the plot's twists and turns.

Nobody's Princess by Esther Freisner

A novel for younger readers where the myths of ancient Greece are woven into the structure of the book's plot. The story loosely follows the life of Helena of Sparta on her road to becoming Queen of Troy. Hailed as one of the beauties of the ancient world, Helena has an exciting life, she's savvy and smart and usually get what she wants.

Stealing Athena by Karen Essex

If you've ever wondered why the Greeks believe that the Brits 'stole' the Elgin marbles from the Parthenon in Athens, this book sheds some light on the matter. The novel centres around the lives of Mary, the wife of the Earl of Elgin, and another fiery spirit, Aspasia, courtesan and beauty who didn't want Pericles to build the Parthenon in the first place. The debate will rumble on for centuries and this book clarifies why the argument is so bitter.

A Deeper Shade of Blue by Paul Johnston

If you love detective novels, then this gem set on the island of Trigono – which doesn't exist, but you can substitute the atmosphere and scenery of any Greek island of your choice – will keep you on the edge of your seat. Alex Marvos, the detective, is beset with plots and mysteries at every turn, and you'll soon become immersed in the complex story and the book's colourful characters.

Little Infamies by Panos Karnezis

Ever wondered what life is really like in a Greek village? These five short stories will reveal the drama that's often simmering beneath the surface of rural life in Greece. There's the parrot that recites Homer, a horse called History, as well as tales about the local priest, the seamstress, and countless others. Enjoy the black humour and the next time you visit Greece you may find yourself looking at the locals in a very different way.

The Island by Victoria Hislop

Set in Crete and partly factual, this novel is actually based around the history of the island of Spinalonga, situated opposite the charming coastal resort of Elounda. The island was home to those suffering from Hansen's disease from 1903 to 1957. The novel isn't all doom and gloom – it's also a love story and a great tale of hope and recovery. If you're going to visit Crete, read this fantastic novel in advance of your trip – you'll soon be mesmerised.

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