Ask anyone to come up with films that sell the dream of Greek life and most people will have no trouble in naming a few. Mamma Mia and Shirley Valentine spring to mind, perhaps Zorba the Greek for the more mature folks out there. But for every famous film that has its audience wanting to swap their humdrum life for something simple yet perfect in the Mediterranean sun, there are many more books that paint the same romantic dream.

Here are just a few books that you might want to read before (or even during) your next Greek holiday:

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. Set on the island of Corfu in the 1930s, this classic book is Durrell’s account of his own childhood on the island. The story flits between young Gerald’s obsession with observing and quite often collecting specimens of Corfu wildlife, and his humorous if less than flattering descriptions of his family life.

Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, a book by celebrated Brit and long-term Mani resident, Patrick Leigh Fermor. It’s old-school travel writing by a man who, at the age of 18, decided to walk from the edge of the English Channel to Constantinople, before staying in the Mediterranean and devoting much of his life to writing about his travels in Greece. His rich colourful prose has long persuaded readers to come and experience his depictions of Greece for themselves.

Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski is a work of great quality by a man who is recognised by many as a writing legend. In Travels with Herodotus Kapuscinski tells many stories of his own life travelling the world as a Polish journalist while reading a copy of Herodotus’ accounts of life and war in ancient Greece. He takes us through many of the great battles that took place on Greek soil and introduces us to the brave, vane and power-hungry individuals who shaped the years of early Greek history. A book to savour slowly, it will help put a lot of the Ancient Greek sites you might visit into context.

Falling in Honey by Jennifer Barclay. Released in 2013, the book tells the author’s own story of moving to Tilos in search of a new life and happiness after a break-up, and finding herself falling in love with the Greek island life as well as with her new love Stelios. The book mixes accounts of Jennifer’s Shirley Valentine-esque personal life with her discoveries around Tilos and a little about the island’s fascinating history.