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Broken Greek

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  776 ratings  ·  81 reviews

'Unflinching and heartwarming' - Adam Kay

'Tender, clever and as funny as it gets ... a heart-piercing joy' - Lauren Laverne

'An exceptional coming-of-age story [...] Pete Paphides may very well have the biggest heart in Britain' - Marina Hyde

'I ADORE this utterly wonderful coming-of-age memoir. Joyful, clever, and a bit heartbreaking' - Nina Stibbe

'Heartfelt, hilarious and

Kindle Edition, 592 pages
Published March 5th 2020 by Quercus
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  776 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Pete Paphides since his occasional cameo appearances on the now defunct Guardian Music Podcast.

As soon as I learned he written a memoir, Broken Greek, I was keen to read it.

My expectations were sky high and, I am delighted to report, they were exceeded.

Broken Greek is flipping brilliant.

I don't how but he achieved it, but Pete perfectly captures his adolescence, and the associated quest for identity, all exacerbated by being a kid of first generation immigrants, whilst being
Gavin Hogg
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I grew up a only few miles away from where Pete did and am only a few months younger so this autobiography resonated very deeply.
He captures memories with such precision that the frequent use of a time machine would seem to be the only plausible explanation for their clarity. They bring the sense of living through that period bubbling up, from forgotten lagoons in the brain.
The book is about the difficulties in his parents' marriage; the search for his own identity, knowing where he fits in, wh
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels-set-in-uk
Memoir set in 1970s/80s BIRMINGHAM (great for fans of the music of the era)

I listened to this on audiobook and it took me right back… to a childhood of pop music, Top of the Pops, Woolworths, Wimpy and being able to smoke on the top of metropolitan buses. All in the 1970s/80s.

Takis, who soon wanted to be called Peter, was the son of Greek / Greek Cypriot parents, who were, as it turns out, unhappily married. As a couple they ran various fish and chip shops around Birmingham and had to work hard
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A lot can happen in 600 pages. Frodo got pretty far into Mordor in that time. Plenty of people died in Westeros. I’ve not read War and Peace, but imagine there was a fair amount of both war and peace happening over 600 pages.

Sometimes almost nothing can happen in 600 pages, and a book can still feel epic. Broken Greek is one of those books. It’s the story of a kid growing up on the outskirts of Birmingham between the ages of seven and twelve. A kid with a Cypriot dad and a Greek mother who run
Mar 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
'Do you sometimes feel like the music you're hearing is explaining your life to you?'
And then it's all down hill from there. If you think Nick Hornby is a bit sexy then this book is for you.
A missed opportunity.
Lee Stuart Evans
A touching, honest and hugely entertaining coming-of-age memoir with a brilliant and cleverly interwoven soundtrack. Excellent.
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone whose childhood in 1970s Britain was soundtracked by the likes of Bowie, ABBA and The Jam, I was always going to fall squarely within the target market for Broken Greek, the glorious coming-of-age memoir by the respected music journalist, Pete Paphides. However, when Gordon, my music-obsessed neighbour, mentioned to me back in May that it was shaping up to be his book of the year, I knew I had to read it pretty damn quick. And he was right to praise it. This is such an engaging book, ...more
Jack Mckeever
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it
I'll be honest; even as a music fanatic, I've never actually read any of Peter Paphides' writing before. At least not knowingly. After I began reading this book I did come across an article about Daft Punk's album 'Random Access Memories' that he'd written for the Guardian, which I didn't find particularly agreeable.

But that doesn't matter in the context of this book, because it's enjoyable all the same. As it's praise from fellow journalists and readers suggests, it is frequently funny, deeply
Teoh ✨
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
My mum bought me this for my birthday and I didn’t know what to expect. It did take a while to begin with to really get into it, but all it’s references to music and an era of British culture, that even now has so much importance, is really what hooked me in.

Sometimes it read like reading a music mag of the chart every day, first reviews and impressions. Other times, it’s a heartfelt look at what growing up in Britain in the 70s/80s was like.

But the themes that keep you going throughout are the
Jo Coleman
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was pretty long and not much happened, but somehow I was quite affected by this story of a very anxious child in love with pop music, his cool indie older brother and his parents wondering whether the hard slog of running a chip shop was worth moving away from Greece for; maybe because it also seemed plausible to a very young me that ABBA might be my parents.
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is brilliant - about the struggles of a second generation Greek Cypriot coming of age in the late 1970s. All the growing pains set against a musical backdrop of songs the author identified with and helped him make sense of the world. Funny and relatable.

My attempt at bringing some of the songs together
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music
'Do you sometimes feel like the music you're hearing is explaining your life to you?'

I absolutely adored this book. I received an ARC from Quercus at the start of the year (thanks!) and put off reading it for a few weeks as it is quite lengthy, but then the amazing reviews started to flood in and I just had to throw myself in. I'm surprised at how quickly I've got through it - I found it extremely readable, and part of me wishes that there was more for me to delve into!

Initially, my interest fo
Sean Ollett
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
I gave up on this book. I had good reviews but I am learning that you cannot trust reviews.

This was extremely pretentious in the writing. I got about a quarter of the way through, he was still in primary school and there were endless pages of really pretentious drivel about how, when his parents abandon him then Brotherhood of Man or Kiki Dee or Abba were going to become his new parents and look after him. More and more pages of introspective philosophising as a seven year old. He claims all the
Stephanie hilton
May 14, 2020 rated it did not like it
If you want a pocket history of the music this author likes, then this is for you. I struggled until chapter 4, then deleted it. No real story here, just a list of bands. Not for me.
susan senkans
Jun 19, 2020 rated it did not like it

No stars. Unimaginably boring.
Thank goodness I did not pay full price for this turgid load of waffle deadly piffle
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This wasn’t the book I expected. Reading reviews on websites and in the papers, I was expecting something light-hearted with a focus on Paphides’ interest In music growing. Blog interviews had focused on his unusual interest in unfashionable groups such as Brotherhood of Man and The Barron Knights. They didn’t mention the difficult relationship between Pahpides’ parents or the immigrant experience. This is a more serious book than presented.

I struggled with the tone of the book. It is presented
Andrew Foxley
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In 'Broken Greek', Pete Paphides has written a brilliantly funny, poignant and evocative memoir about growing up in the Midlands in the late 70s and early 80s, immersed in a different culture to that of his Greek parents, and in particular, immersed in the pop music of the day.

I liked this very much - Paphides' unapologetic enthusiasm for the favourite music of his childhood years is infectious, and it's these parts where the book really comes to life. But I also found myself engaged by the part
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
IMO part of a good biography references your own life and Broken Greek did that for me in spades.

Despite being comfortably 15 years older than Pete Paphides I remember the discovery of the new - especially music in detail, such a precious part of life. It could be argued that we had it better - but what generation doesn't make that argument. The self-questioning, the doubt, the peer groups, the invincibility of the young are all brought to life through the stories of life in Birmingham. This al
Jay Bracknell
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I expected this book to be great at capturing the magic of music. I didn’t expect it to be such a profound exploration of the human condition and the way music can explain you to yourself.

Peter Paphides effortlessly weaves together a coming of age tale with brilliant observations about pop culture and snippets of music mythology, creating an immersive journey which is at once deeply personal and universal. As a brummie I recognised a lot of the landmarks and as a music fan I adored the backstor
Derek Bell
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not as fast reader as I used to be so taken my time over 'Broken Greek' and I'm glad I did if only to savour every word. What a wonderful book it is. Being five years older than him the musical reference points are similar as he was ahead of his years. I think my tastes veered closer to Aki's but lots of crossovers and contrasts - his reasons for not liking The Stranglers were pretty much my nascent teenage self's reasons for loving them. But this isn't a book about who you like it's more about ...more
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An absolute joy to read, like listening to an old friend telling you stories of their life. Pete has a really nice style of writing, so descriptive you can vividly imagine every scene he paints.

I was worried I wouldn't be cool enough or music-y enough to read it (as is sometimes the case with books about music constantly referencing niche bands) but there was no such problem with this book. Pete takes you on a journey from his early years to age 13 sound-tracking it with bands such as Abba, Dexy
Rhodri Jones
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Pete Paphides is a music journalist and while this is an autobiography filled with music, it is really about growing up and finding your identity. As Paphides' Greek-Cypriot parents moved to Birmingham from with next to nothing in the sixties, it becomes a commentary on attitudes to immigrants, how the children of immigrants have to find their way between two competing cultures and what growing up in urban England in the 70s and early 80s was like. Full of humour, honesty and characters which co ...more
Bethany Claus Widick
If you grew up in the 1970s in Britain, then you will really love this book.

If you grew up in the 1980s in the US, well...for me, not so much. The writing is excellent, the parts about growing up were great, but there was so much of a deep dive into music that I wasn't familiar with that I found myself skipping past them....and that meant skimming through a LOT. Imagine reading Chuck Klosterman but as someone with very little knowledge of US pop culture -- it's just not really for you.

TBH, I wou
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Entertaining read, but probably more so if you are seriously into music. I thoroughly enjoyed his account of growing up in 1970’s Birmingham as the younger son of reluctant immigrants. And I understand that pop music formed and educated this man. However, being a person who does not really engage with pop culture, after a while I began to struggle with the analysis of punk, v disco etc. I remembered it as a background to my own younger self but I struggled to understand whether this voice was a ...more
Katy Wheatley
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am only a year or two younger than Pete and this detailed and evocative memoir of growing up in the Seventies is one that I strongly identified with at many levels. His immersion in pop music and his detailed analysis of it, but from his child self as well as his mature self is the beating heart of this book and the fact that he has provided a Spotify soundtrack to go along with it is a treasure trove of memories for me. This is beautiful and magical and I really hope we are treated to the nex ...more
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Despite growing up in the 90's, most of this book ran completely true. Remembering taping songs off the radio (I once made a cassette that only had Candle in the Wind on it on both sides), watching Top of the Pops, buying new singles in the first week they were released whilst they were cheaper and the awkwardness we all feel growing up.

Genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and stirring. I was gutted when it ended, I could have kept reading for another 600 pages.

Brilliant, brilliant book.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book. I deliberately read it slowly so I could savour every chapter. The author has a brilliant way of relaying his childhood with exactly the innocence and wonder I recall at that age. Packed with musical and football references that echo my early years, the book had me digging out old records and cassettes time after time. It has been great to connect with Pete over Twitter as, like so many others, I have wanted to share my delight at what I’d been reading. So many memories. Child ...more
Carolyn Drake
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Pete Paphides' warm, immersive childhood memoir is a love letter to the pop songs - both cool and uncool - that spoke to him, a young, emotional Greek Cypriot boy, struggling to understand his place in his home, school and adopted country. Music is how he makes sense of his life, and his vivid, funny and poignant memories are all tied up with the records he bought from the bargain bin and the songs he painstakingly recorded from the radio. This is my era, and he describes it with absolute clarit ...more
Luke Mcgarrity
May 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
I feel like there's 2 books smooshed together in here and each is preferred by a different reader. Theres a sweet and twee mundane story of growing up in the Birmingham suburbs which has some funny and some observant moments. In parallel there's a plotted history of UK pop music in 60s-80s debated in almost forensic detail. I'm a fan of the first book and have to drudge through the constant imposition of the second to get a glimmer of plot progression, I gave up shortly after Adam Ant showed up. ...more
Diane Dawson
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was laughing out loud at Broken Greek from the very beginning. Pete Paphides was obviously born to write about pop music, but I had never come across anyone who could write about their interpretation of pop songs from such an early age, that mirrored my own experiences. From my childhood memories of being afraid of particular songs to my early teen angst that I had to pick a musical tribe. Thank you for your story Pete, you summed it all up brilliantly, Broken Greek was a funny and heartwarmin ...more
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