The best books set in Greece

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Greek-American author and screenwriter and growing up I heard stories both of and about Greece for as long and far back as I can remember. At a certain point, I decided to join them, and tell Greek stories of my own. After all, it’s in our blood, right? My debut novel, Once We Were Here, is a multi-generational love story that’s set mostly during the Greek resistance of WWII, and which has been described as “stirring” (Paula McLain), “stunning” (Steven Pressfield), and “a modern epic” (Victoria Aveyard). I very much hope you’ll have a chance to give it a read, and also very much hope that you’ll enjoy it.


I wrote...

Once We Were Here

By Christopher Cosmos,

Book cover of Once We Were Here

What is my book about?

On October 28th, 1940, Mussolini provides Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas with an ultimatum: either allow Axis forces to occupy their country, or face war, and Greece's response is swift. "Oxi!" they say. "No!"

In a small village nestled against the radiant waters of the Aegean Sea, we find Alexei, the son of a local fisherman, and his best friend Costa, who were both born on the same night eighteen years earlier and have been like brothers ever since, though now, like all the other young men in their village and throughout Greece, they will leave their homes to bravely fight for their country. But before they go, Alexei asks Philia, the girl that he's loved his entire life to marry him, which sets into motion the events which will change the lives of these three and their family and friends forever.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Song of Achilles

Christopher Cosmos Why did I love this book?

The Song of Achilles is a story that is, in a word, perfect. And it’s also a story that’s perfectly told. At once tender and intimate, while also being expansive and epic, this novel both adds and expands upon one of the greatest and most famous stories ever spoken, written, and remembered, and even while we know how it will inevitably end, even from the first word, we still can’t wait to get there and be unmade over and over and over again. In a rough and harsh world, innocence and purity can be by turns inspirational, aspirational, and also extremely necessary, and this expertly crafted and supremely touching version of an infamous life, love, and time has never felt more fresh, compelling, and urgently needed.

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked The Song of Achilles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**OVER 1.5 MILLION COPIES SOLD**
**A 10th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION, FEATURING A NEW FOREWORD BY THE AUTHOR**

WINNER OF THE ORANGE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
THE INTERNATIONAL SENSATION
A SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'Captivating' DONNA TARTT
'I loved it' J K ROWLING
'Ravishingly vivid' EMMA DONOGHUE

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms…


Book cover of Eleni

Christopher Cosmos Why did I love this book?

For many Greeks and Greek-Americans, Eleni is a literary north star, especially in the world of non-fiction. On one hand, it’s an urgent and imperative testimony to a brutal and tragic event that the world and history at large have over-looked and forgotten, and on the other, and a more personal level, it’s a poignant and devastatingly powerful testament of a son’s love for his mother. Revenge and forgiveness are constantly at odds and at the forefront of this journey, which also doubles as an important and specific type of immigrant story and experience. Which one will ultimately win out: revenge or forgiveness? In the end, it’s the reader who wins, because the story of Eleni Gatzoyiannis and her son Nikolaos is timeless, unforgettable, and will leave all who read it forever changed.

By Nicholas Gage,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eleni as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the biography of a woman who was arrested, tortured and shot in 1948 because she had helped her children to escape the Communist guerrillas during the Greek Civil War. Nicholas Gage, then aged eight eventually reached America where he became one of the New York Times' best investigative reporters.He returned to Greece as its chief correspondent in 1977, where he reconstructed his mother's life and death. He is the author of two novels and of "Hellas: A Portrait of Greece". He co-produced the film "Eleni" directed by Peter Yates.


Book cover of Zorba the Greek

Christopher Cosmos Why did I love this book?

In my own novel, Once We Were Here, I wrote in a passage towards the beginning that “Greeks have a word for everything.” And while that might be true, the second part of it is that the words we have can often be impossible to translate because a single Greek word can mean so many things, all at once. Kefi is one such word, and rather than try to effectively sum up something that has no direct English equivalent, the best thing to do is recommend this book, as kefi is something the infamous title character Zorba possesses in spades and has become synonymous with in regards to his personal philosophies and passionate way of living life as much as it can possibly be lived.

Does this strength of spirit and culture that’s so prominent in Greece come from the land, or does it come from the people who live there? At a certain point it doesn’t matter, because it’s all one, anyways, and so after you’ve read this book grab an ouzo, head to the beach with friends, family, and loved ones, and dance your own personal sirtaki in honor of Zorba and his kefi.

By Nikos Kazantzakis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Zorba the Greek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This moving fable sees a young Greek writer set out to Crete to claim a small inheritance. But when he arrives, he meets Alexis Zorba, a middle-aged Greek man with a zest for life. Zorba has had a family and many lovers, has fought in the Balkan wars, has lived and loved - he is a simple but deep man who lives every moment fully and without shame. As their friendship develops, he is gradually won over, transformed and inspired along with the reader.

Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis' most popular and enduring novel, has its origins in the author's…


Book cover of Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

Christopher Cosmos Why did I love this book?

Steven Pressfield has written so well about Greece in so many novels that it’s hard to pick just one, but I’ve decided to go with Gates of Fire. This is a novel that brought the Spartan basileus Leonidas and his 300 palikari into mainstream culture before the famous movie did the same thing. The attention to detail, both physical and emotional, is what resonates and stands out most in all of Pressfield’s work, and in Gates of Fire, Leonidas and his men embody the elusive and immortal thing that Pressfield has described as “the warrior ethos.” If you need any higher acclaim or proof of the influence of his work and this ethos on current warriors, Gates of Fire has been taught at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S, Naval Academy, and the Marine Corps Basic School at Quantico. Steven was the very first author to endorse my novel Once We Were Here, which meant a great deal to me coming from a storyteller of his stature, and I’m so very glad and proud to be able to return the favor here. 

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Gates of Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Sunday Times bestseller Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield tells the breathtaking story of the legendary Spartans: the men and women who helped shaped our history and have themselves become as immortal as their gods.

'Breathtakingly brilliant . . . this is a work of rare genius. Savour it!' DAVID GEMMELL

'A tale worthy of Homer, a timeless epic of man and war, exquisitely researched and boldy written. Pressfield has created a new classic' STEPHEN COONTS

'A really impressive book - imaginatively framed, historically detailed and a really gripping narrative' ***** Reader review

'Beautifully written and a great joy…


Book cover of Circe

Christopher Cosmos Why did I love this book?

Is it cheating to have two books by the same author on one list? It might be, but Circe and The Song of Achilles are both that good, and collectively have come to either define, or redefine, depending on who you ask, the genre with which they’ve both now become synonymous. Expansive and profound, poignant and intimate, this novel also both explores and expands upon one of the most famous stories ever told, and when it’s over, we’re left to wonder how we ever thought we could have understood The Odyssey before it existed. It’s a story of gods and heroes that’s rooted in its profound and deep humanity, a humanity which it also shares with all who pick it up and lose themselves in these new and updated myths that are every bit as good and important as the old ones and, perhaps, dare we whisper it, they might even be better.

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

38 authors picked Circe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The international Number One bestseller from the author of The Song of Achilles, shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

Woman. Witch. Myth. Mortal. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Survivor. CIRCE.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child - not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens…


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Subjugation: Zanchier

By SG Boudreaux,

Book cover of Subjugation: Zanchier

SG Boudreaux

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Harper Brinley is running for her life.

After escaping from a government holding facility where she, along with other scientists, was being forced to build a deadly weapon. She headed for the most remote place she could think of, the wild Xantifal Mountains.

The one place where no one would think to search for her. There, she found a massive hollowed tree in which to survive the harsh mountain winter. If she can survive the four-legged, fire-breathing firebirds and the equally large wildcats of the mountain ridge, then maybe she can find her way back to her children. She was…

Subjugation: Zanchier

By SG Boudreaux,

What is this book about?

Harper Brinley is running for her life. After escaping from a government holding facility, where she along with other scientists were being forced to build a deadly weapon, she headed for the most remote place she could think of, the wild Xantifal Mountains. The one place where no one would think to search for her. There she found a massive hollowed tree in which to survive the harsh mountain winter. If she can survive the four-legged, fire-breathing firebirds, and the equally large wildcats of the mountain ridge, then maybe she can find her way back to her children. She was…


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