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Literature

Three Books to Add to Your February Reading List

February 7, 2021

As the chilly weather continues in the northeast United States, regardless of what groundhogs may predict, it is a perfect time to add to your reading. From those looking to continue heart healthy eating habits to those interested in memoirs and history, there is a book for every reader.

February is American Heart Month and healthy eating habits are a key component in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The Greek diet is also well-known for its health benefits, including reducing the risk of many ailments such as heart attacks and strokes. Mediterranean Lifestyle Cooking: The Key to a Healthy Life through Simple and Delicious Cooking by Mary Valle offers a culinary tour of the Mediterranean, including many Greek recipes to enjoy. As Valle writes in her introduction to the book, “I have a passion for Mediterranean food and especially Greek food as it is what I know best.”

The book includes tips on the healthy lifestyle and helpful cooking hints as well as beautiful photographs of the delicious foods and a few seaside landscapes to enchant the reader.

Beneath the Fig Leaves: A Memoir of Food, Family and Greece by Olympia Panagiotopoulos offers insights into the Greek-Australian experience. In 1955, in a village in Greece that was marred by war and poverty, Giannoula and Fotios Panagiotopoulos dreamed of providing a better life for their children. Australia, it was rumored, was a land of opportunity where hard work brought reward. Leaving behind family and friends, they set off to make a new home on the other side of the world. Half a lifetime later, under the shade of a fig tree and in the dappled Melbourne sunlight, Giannoula regales her youngest daughter, Olympia, with stories of her homeland and journey.

The book includes historic family photos to highlight the immigrant experience that is so relatable for Greeks wherever they happen to live. The chapter titled Village Feast presents the family’s traditional Greek recipes through seasonal menus that bring back memories for readers even if the recipes are not exactly the same as the ones your own yiayia made back in the village.

A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War by Victor Davis Hanson presents the formative ancient conflict in juxtaposition with today’s most urgent concerns to create this engrossing book. One of the most dynamic military historians, Hanson offers this well-researched volume exploring how over the course of a generation, the Hellenic city-states of Athens and Sparta fought a bloody conflict that resulted in the collapse of Athens and the end of its Golden Age.

Though Thucydides wrote the standard history of the Peloponnesian War, which has given readers throughout the ages a vivid and authoritative narrative, Hanson’s book is a complete chronological account that reflects the political background of the time, the strategic thinking of the combatants, the misery of battle in multifaceted theaters, and important insight into how these events echo in the present.

Mediterranean Lifestyle Cooking: The Key to a Healthy Life through Simple and Delicious Cooking by Mary Valle, Beneath the Fig Leaves: A Memoir of Food, Family and Greece by Olympia Panagiotopoulos, and A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War by Victor Davis Hanson are all available online.

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