By Eleni Sakellis
Book lovers agree that when it comes to delightful gifts this holiday season, books are the way to go. With so many great books available, choosing the right book can be a daunting task. Here are some suggestions for the book lovers in your life.
For the classically-inclined, a new edition of classic Greek literature is a wonderful gift. The Iliad and The Odyssey make a great gift set for those who enjoy Homer. For drama fans, The Complete Works of Euripides offer tragedy at its peak. The Complete Works of Aristophanes provide comic relief and social criticism that continue to be relevant and funny today.
Coffee table books add lovely visual interest to any home and make an excellent hostess gift. Some beautiful coffee table books include At Home in Greece by Julia Klimi, and StyleCity Athens by Ioanna Kopsiafti and Julia Klimi which offer charming photographs and focus on the creativity and style of Greece. An Island Sanctuary: A House in Greece by John Stefanides takes a look at the elegant aesthetics of a home on the island of Patmos with stunning photography.
For foodies, cookbooks make fantastic gifts. Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Island Where People Forget to Die, by Diane Kochilas, features lush photography by Vassillis Stenos. This enchanting volume with its delicious recipes will inspire you to eat healthier and to book your ticket to Ikaria as soon as possible. A native of the island of Ikaria, Chef Kochilas is the author of several cookbooks, including The Country Cooking of Greece also photographed by Stenos. She also runs a cooking school on Ikaria called the Glorious Greek Kitchen.
Another cookbook highlighting the healthy Mediterranean lifestyle is The Greek Diet: Look and Feel Like a Greek God or Goddess and Lose up to Ten Pounds in Two Weeks by Maria Loi and Sarah Toland. With one hundred recipes, this book offers tasty and healthy recipes beautifully photographed and provides insightful commentary from both Chef Loi and the health journalist and former Olympic athlete Toland.
Poetry collections are a thoughtful gift for loved ones who enjoy the lyrical side of literature. The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present edited by Peter Constantine and Rachel Hadas is a must have for poetry fans interested in seeing the progression of the art over time and through history. Along with Homer, works by Pindar, Cavafy, Seferis, Elytis, Pavlina Pampoudi, and Vasilis Steriadis are included in this collection.
For those who enjoy more recent poetry, Through These Lenses by Apostolos Anagnostopoulos is a fine collection featuring poems inspired by antiquity along with contemporary themes. The Black Sea by Stephanos Papadopoulos is an extraordinary poetic work tackling the Pontic Greek genocide through the eyes of various characters.
Fiction fans will enjoy …And Dreams Are Dreams by Vassilis Vassilikos translated by Mary Kitroeff. This short story collection is perfect for those who love magical realism. Vassilikos is best known as the author of the political novel Z, which was adapted into the acclaimed film by Costa-Gavras. His novel The Few Things I Know About Glafkos Thrassakis combines elements of magical realism and political fiction to tell the story of a writer investigating the life of another writer, the mysterious and recently deceased Glafkos Thrassakis.
Nikos Kazantzakis, best known for writing Zorba the Greek, was a prolific author whose works make excellent gifts for book lovers. His epic poem The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel was published in 1938. He considered it his most important work. A massive undertaking at about 1,360 pages of verse, Kazantzakis began writing in 1924 and wrote seven drafts before finally publishing it fourteen years later. The English translation, by Greek-American author and translator Kimon Friar was first published in 1958. The book is a wonderful companion piece for Homer’s Odyssey. Also inspired by Greek mythology, Sta Palatia tis Knosou (At the Palaces of Knossos) is a retelling of the story of Theseus. Though originally written for young readers of a youth magazine, this historical novel is entertaining for all ages and highly recommended in the original Greek. The books mentioned above are all available online in Greek and in English translation. Check with your favorite local bookstore and local library for availability.