SSoP Podcast Episode 32 — Greece: Gyros, Heroes, Philosophy, and Phyllo

SSoP Podcast Episode 32 — Greece: Gyros, Heroes, Philosophy, and Phyllo

Monday, 20 December, 2021

Comprised of more than 2000 islands on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece is bounded by bluer-than-blue water. Ionian Sea! Aegean Sea! Mediterranean Sea! Go anywhere in the country, and you’re never more than 85 miles/137km from the ocean. And there are more than 250 sunny days every year.

The daydreamy visions you have of golden sun and turquoise blue water and soothing white-washed houses on hillsides that seem to drop directly into the sea? Yeah, those are pretty accurate.

Greece also boasts mountainous national parks, monasteries perched on dramatic mountaintops, and ancient temple ruins from about 2000 years ago. Plus, a capital city known as the cradle of Western civilization.

Add rousing folk music, intoxicating spirits (Ouzo! Retsina! Metaxa!), and Greek food — olives and olive oil, the freshest of fish, layers of phyllo dough, pillowy pita, meat on skewers — and you’ve got the makings of a great escape.

In this episode, we briefly discuss Greece’s influential history and wax lyrical about all the country offers as a travel destination. Then we recommend five books that transported us there on the page: a graphic novel that celebrates rebetiko music, a gripping family saga, a gorgeous retelling of Greek mythology, a literary novel about living in a liminal space, and an over-the-top (in just the right way) mystery-romance. Opa!


Read the full transcript of Greece: Gyros, Heroes, Philosophy, and Phyllo.

The House on Paradise Street

buy | read review


buy | read review


buy | read review


buy | read review


buy | read review

This Rough Magic

buy | read review

This Rough Magic

buy | read review

other books we mentioned


other cool stuff we talked about

  • Perhaps you’d like to listen to a bit of Greek folk music while you dig into these links.
  • The Visit Greece website has everything you need for Greek travel inspiration. They’re also on Instagram and Twitter.

  • In case you need an encyclopedia of Greek Olympians, Titans, Gods, myths, plays, and more:

  • Can we interest you in a pretty photo of Athens?

the acropolis in athens at sunset
The Acropolis at sunset. Photo courtesy of Sven Hansche/Shutterstock.

two truths and a lie

  • Statement 1: There’s a peninsula in Greece where women are banned. Learn more about Mount Athos and its fascinating history from Condé Nast Traveler, Wikipedia, and The Guardian.

  • Statement 2: There are two churches in Greece that fire rockets at each other during service. The BBC News has the scoop. You definitely, definitely want to play this video, and

  • Madeline Miller is the author of Circe. In this video, she talks about her breathtaking novel at the Chicago Humanities Festival.


  • This is simply a very pretty aerial view of Santorini at night:



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A white-washed patio warmed by the sun, a chilled bottle of retsina, a block of feta with olives and bread fresh from the oven, all enveloped in a light sea breeze. These brilliant Instagrammers will take you there.
The phrase meat-and-potatoes is basically code for comfort food. Add a touch of sunshine (a.k.a., lemon) and Greek herbs to the mix, and you've got an instant trip to the Greek islands embarking from your kitchen.
One of the treats of travel is browsing the shelves of a bookstore in a far-flung locale. It feels both completely foreign and blessedly familiar all at once. Add Atlantis Books on Santorini to your must-visit list.

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