Here's my pick of the best Cyprus books together with personal reviews.
We visited the lovely island of Cyprus for many years before we made it our home five years ago. We bought the usual travel guides when we were just visitors to the island, but it's only when you actually live here that you realise how little some of those books actually tell you. We found most of our favourite Cyprus books on the island itself and, unfortunately. some of them are only available to buy here in Cyprus. Most, however, are available to buy at our Bookstore.
My list of "best Cyprus Books" isn't very big but everything on it is well read - at least in our house as every copy is pretty dog-eared, proving we make use of them pretty much all the time. It's a mix of everything including a dictionary - a MUST HAVE book if you are serious about trying to learn the local language.
Here's my list of favourite Cyprus books including a brief summary as to why we love each book - it's our way of saying "try before you buy..."
Teach Yourself Beginner’s Greek by Aristarhos Matsukas
Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-87031-1
An excellent introduction to the Greek language. I was actually given another Teach Yourself book by the same author (see the next book below) but THIS is the one for total beginners UNLESS you already know how to read the Greek alphabet.
This version uses a technique called "transliteration" to show you how to pronounce the words (unlike the second one which asks you to read the Greek alphabet to pronounce the word. Interestingly, the second book is supposed to be a complete course for beginners!). It comes with a CD which is essential for practising. Listen to it whenever you are in the car or doing the ironing and you'll be chatting away to the locals in Greek in no time!
Make sure you check the ISBN number before you order so you don't get the wrong book. Find out More/Buy this Book
TEACH YOURSELF GREEK: A Complete Course for Beginners by Aristarhos Matsukas
Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-64783-3
Whilst this is NOT a good book for total beginners (see why in the review above), once you have mastered the basics, this book is a great "advanced" course.
The first few chapters will use words you should already know if you "got it" with the first Teach Yourself book, but it quickly advances to far more challenging and difficult stuff like what to say when you are ill or how to tell someone what a great holiday you had. I'm still studying it and still learning after five years!
My favourite phrase is how you say "It's all Greek to me" in Greek, which is Ine akoma kinezika yia moo (It's all Chinese to me!) Find out More/Buy this Book
Learn Greek in 25 years – A Crash Course for the linguistically challenged by Brian Church
Lambrakis Press, ISBN 960-86395-1-4
If the thought of even trying to learn Greek leaves you cold, try this one, It's absolutely hilarious and was given to us by some friends who were visiting the island a couple of years ago.
The author writes a column in a Greek newspaper and the book is a series of amusing column articles, all true stories. Even if you have no intention of learning Greek, this is a great read and will have you laughing out loud.
Oh and even though the author claims you cannot possibly learn a word of Greek from reading his book, strangely, you do through his Words I really must learn though I know I won't section at the end of each chapter. A short, funny hysterical book. MY #1 FAVOURITE! Find out More/Buy this Book
CYPRUS – The Finest Valley and Mountain Walks by Rolf Goetz. Available in English and German
Rother Waking Guides, ISBN 3-7633-4814-X
If you are keen on the great outdoors, like us, then this little Cyprus book is invaluable. Published in 2002, it is one of only a few walking books on the island where you can choose from 42 walks of varying length and difficulty.
There are colour coded gradings like you have on ski runs (Black for difficult/steep, red for intermediate and blue for easy/gentle) and there are helpful little maps to show you the routes. Our only criticism now is that, even though the book is relatively new, many tracks/trails have already been covered with tarmac, spoiling some of our favourite walks. I suppose you could call it progress but we prefer it when there are still donkey tracks to walk on!
The Cyprus Enigma: "A Brief Introduction to the Cyprus problem" by Ray Sanderson
Printed by the Shape and Colour Lithography Studio ISBN 9963-8279-0-X
The "Cyprus Problem" refers to the 30+ year old division of the island and countless books have been written on the subject.
It is often hard to understand the simple historical facts that lead to the division of the island when Turkey invaded in 1974. This is because most historical facts are very subjective, depending on which side you were on. This short Cyprus book is a great way to understand what happened and why Cyprus, today, remains a divided country and is still an ongoing problem for both the UN and now the EU to resolve.
Objectively written , it will help you understand why every weekly newspaper devotes about a third of its coverage to the Cyprus problem even today! A MUST READ for anyone coming to live on the island. Find out More/Buy this Book
Bitter lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell
Faber and Faber, ISBN 0-571-20155-5
If books about the Cyprus problem are of no interest, then this little gem should be. Written nearly 50 years ago, it is a gorgeous account of how the old Cyprus was before the events of 1974.
It gives a great insight into the background of the complex series of events that eventually lead to the Turkish invasion and is sad and poignant in it's beautiful portrayal of the Cypriot people. It is a great testament to the author, now sadly departed, that the book remains in print even today. Definitely a good read for the cooler winter months. Find out More/Buy this Book
Wild Flowers of Cyprus by George Sfikas
Efstathiadis Group, ISBN 960-226-266-4 and
Birds and mammals of Cyprus by George Sfikas
Efstathiadis Group, ISBN 960-226-295-8
These two little Cyprus books are another must for all nature lovers like us. Fabulously illustrated with photographs and drawings, you will never need to ask "What's that bird or flower I just saw?" again. The Flower book has a great little section on geology which explains why some plants grow better in certain regions than others.
The Birds and Mammals book also tells you
how the island was colonised by the various species, providing a facinating insight into the many indiginous birds, as well
as the migratory ones that come to the island during the year. Sadly, many of the birds on the island are at risk of extinction
because of the Cypriot sport of shooting - some 50,000 people in Cyprus practise this needless activity for fun rather than from a neccessity to eat.
Find out more/Buy Wild Flowers of Cyprus book
Pocket Oxford Greek Dictionary by J T Pring
Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-860327-4
Need a good dictionary? This pocket dictionary is a good one to start with and has both English-Greek and Greek-English
sections. Not sure about the "pocket" size though, it's not even hand-bag size! But it is clearly laid out and has lots of phrases
to help put the words in context.
Find out More/Buy this Book
If you want a more advanced book try the Oxford Greek-English Learner’s Dictionary by D N Stavropoulos,Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-431199-6
Be Happy and Speak a Little Greek by David Patching & Nikolas Georgiou
JG Cassoulides & Son Ltd, ISBN 9963-8683-0-4
So you've learned 500 Greek words and arrive on the island ready to use your knowledge. TIP - buy this book when you get here (you may not be able to get it online) as CYPRIOT Greek is quite different from MAINLAND Greek. This short book teaches you some basic Greek AS WELL as the more essential Cypriot dialect form and our copy has fallen apart at least 3 times already! If you're pushed for time, however, just learn some key essential Cypriot Greek words.
The Speak a Little Greek Book of Verbs by David Patching & Nikolas Georgiou
JG Cassoulides & Son Ltd, ISBN 9963-8683-1-2
Only for the really dedicated this one! You love learning Greek so much, you need to learn hundreds of verbs too. Actually, aside from that, it does teach you some essentials like the past and present tense, kind of important if you want to tell your Cypriot friends what you did last week or what you are planning to do next year.
We didn't include a travel guide here as we hope our website will fill any gap for that AND it's FREE!
Enjoy our pick of the best Cyprus books. We'll add more as we find them or feel free to tell us of any good ones you know of that we haven't discovered yet.
More books available, including most of these, in our