"Greece is not for spectators," writes Eleni N. Gage in North of Ithaka (St. Martin's Press, $23.95), a memoir of returning to her ancestral village in northern Greece to rebuild her grandmother's former house. As the New York journalist settles into Lia, a mountain town near the Albanian border, she discovers that participation in daily rituals is mandatory in a hamlet with a year-round population of 50 people, all of whom have a strong attachment to Orthodox festivals (Lia has four churches). Gage's vivid personal account captures the seasonal rhythms and everyday dramas of Greek life beyond the familiar resort islands, revealing a place that is, in the most traditional sense, old-world.