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Literature

TNH’s Favorite Books to Give as Gifts This Year

November 27, 2023

As the gift-giving season gets into full swing, books are a great option for everyone on your list. From nonfiction to genre fiction, there is a book to match everyone’s interests. The following books are among The National Herald’s favorites to give as gifts.

Young readers will be delighted to learn about the Greek traditions associated with Christmas in two new books by Greek-Australian Panagiota Andreadakis, The 123 of the Twelve Days of Christmas (numbers board book for toddlers) and The Twelve Days of Christmas Activity Book, available in the U.S. through Manchester, New Hampshire-based Taste and Art of Greece.

For those interested in philosophy, How to Be: Life Lessons from the Early Greeks by Adam Nicolson is a charming and informative book, offering insights from the early Greek thinkers. This well-written volume draws the reader along on a fascinating journey through the ancient world as the author explores our connections to the past. The constancy of human nature is clear in the questions those early thinkers asked, as noted in the book’s description- “What is the nature of things? What is justice? How can I be myself? How should we treat each other?”

How to Be: Life Lessons from the Early Greeks by Adam Nicolson. (Photo: Amazon)

For those interested in compelling nonfiction, The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses who Helped Cure Tuberculosis by Greek-American Maria Smilios is an impressive book, her first, and highlights a little-known part of American history and the pivotal role Black nurses played in battling one of the deadliest diseases, tuberculosis. According to the book’s description: In the pre-antibiotic days when tuberculosis stirred people’s darkest fears, killing one in seven, white nurses at Sea View, New York’s largest municipal hospital, began quitting en masse. Desperate to avert a public health crisis, city officials summoned Black southern nurses, luring them with promises of good pay, a career, and an escape from the strictures of Jim Crow. But after arriving, they found themselves on an isolated hilltop in the remote borough of Staten Island, yet again confronting racism and consigned to a woefully understaffed sanatorium, dubbed “the pest house,” where it was said that “no one left alive.”

The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses who Helped Cure Tuberculosis by Maria Smilios. (Photo: Penguin Random House)

For those interested in retellings of the Greek myths, An Unexpected Ally: A Greek Tale of Love, Revenge, and Redemption by Sophia Kouidou-Giles recounts the adventures of Circe, best known as the sorceress in Homer’s Odyssey. According to the book’s description, powerful Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios, is sad to see Odysseus, King of Ithaca, depart from her island, Aeaea— but her heartbreak is eased after dolphins take her to Delos, where she explores a new love interest.

An Unexpected Ally: A Greek Tale of Love, Revenge, and Redemption by Sophia Kouidou-Giles. (Photo: Amazon)

For those interested in books in Greek, I Am Not Maria… I Am Callas: Her Real Life and an Eon of Myths by Michalis Dimitriou is a new book about the great Maria Callas (1923-1977), published in Greek in time for the centennial of the diva’s birth. This portrait of Callas is based on interviews and source material as Dimitriou, a journalist by trade, sought to highlight the ‘real’ Maria and aimed to deconstruct the false media reports and tales surrounding Callas, so often reported in the popular press, that she “died early because of her desperate love for Onassis” and that she sacrificed herself for her stage persona, “paying for this in ineffable, deadly loneliness.” Dimitriou also debunks the myths about Callas’ relationship with her mother and sister, and that she spent the last part of her life “in mourning Onassis and her lost glory.”

Also in Greek, Στα Πόδια της Αιώνιας Άνοιξης/Beneath the Feet of Eternal Spring

(Papadopoulos, 2023) by Nektaria Anastasiadou is her second novel, following the success of her debut A Recipe for Daphne.

The above-mentioned books are all available online.

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