Mary Norris’s Greek to Me is one of the most satisfying accounts of a great passion that I have ever read. It traces a decades-long obsession with Greece: its language (both modern and ancient), literature, mythologies, people, places, food and monuments — all with an absorption that never falters and never squanders the reader’s attention ... [Norris] mourns the centuries-long effort at developing punctuation for the sake of ever greater clarity, now being abandoned, day by day, in our benighted contemporary culture. This observation is only a reminder of what we all know; nevertheless, it stunned me ... Western women traveling to the Mediterranean in search of sensual experience is one of the great clichés I thought we had put behind us. This caveat aside, Norris’s irreverent reverence for the history of the Greek language is not only admirable, it is moving. When she writes, 'Ancient Greek is like the Bible (from βιβλος): records of the past that preserve the things that humans most need to know,”'you feel yourself in the presence of a traveler whose authority emanates from lived experience.
Norris is an OK travel writer, but she sparkles more when the subject is language. An unrepentant alphabetophile, she extols the life-changing magic of letters, which she finds far superior to hieroglyphs and emoji in their incomparable ability to communicate in writing ... You'll pick up all sorts of wonderful tidbits from this book ... Greek to Me, an ode to the joy of exercising free rein in one's life, is not as funny as Between You and Me, and Norris is not quite as convincing about the highs of psi as she is about the allure of Blackwing pencils. But what resonates in both books is the way ardent interests can enrich a life. Norris is an uncommonly engaging, witty enthusiast with a nose for delicious details and funny asides that makes you willing to follow her anywhere.
... a rapturous memoir of falling in love with a language ... lively ... From the first page, Norris reassures any readers who fear they’re about to inhale 3,000 years of dust ... Norris is often at her best when discussing the phenomenon of language: how words shape our experience ... Occasionally Norris’s attention to detail lapses into the encyclopedic. But at their best, these pages leave you feeling salt-kissed and freshly tanned, languorous with ouzo. Those needing a reason to pick up an ancient language will find much magic here to recommend the pursuit. For Norris, the argument for Greek is a personal one: It transformed her life. The muse sings.