Our Turkey reading list
You may want to do some background reading before the trip. Here is a short list of some of the books we have enjoyed.
Non Fiction – History & Art
Lords of the Horizons : A History of the Ottoman Empire ~ Jason Goodwin
Starting with the origins of the Turkish tribes and the House of Osman, this book traces Turkish history back to the Mongolian steppe
Constantinople – City of the World’s Desire 1453-1924 ~ Philip Mansel
An excellent account of how Istanbul came to dominate the world scene for almost 500 years.
Istanbul – The Imperial City ~ John Freely
Freely was a teacher at the Bosphorous University in Istanbul for over forty years. His books on Turkey and Istanbul are some of the most informative and readable available.
Ataturk – The Rebirth of a Nation ~ Lord Kinross
It is impossible to understand Modern Turkey without at least some knowledge of Ataturk. Kinross’s biography was the first to attempt this massive subject
Ataturk : The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey ~ Andrew Mango
More recent than the Kinross biography, Mango has filled in some of the darker details
Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey ~ Hugh and Nicole Pope
A very readable account of Modern Turkish history.
A short history of Byzantium ~ John Julius Norwich
John Julius Norwich is one of the undisputed experts on the history of Byzantium and this book gives us some invaluable background to the origins of Constantinople.
Non Fiction: Travel, General Interest
Portrait of a Turkish Family ~ Irfan Orga
The Caravan Moves On ~ Irfan Orga
These two books are modern classics. The first is a fascinating account of a Turkish family in Istanbul around the time of the first world war. The second is an interesting ethnographical account of rural Turkey.
Istanbul: Memories of a City ~ Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk has become the best-selling novelist of Modern Turkey, but this is an account of the neighbourhoods of Istanbul he grew up in during the fifties.
Black Sea : The birthplace of Civilization and Barbarism ~ Neil Ascherson
Not just about Turkey, but a very readable account of the sea on Turkey’s northern coast.
Meander – East to West along a Turkish River ~ Jeremy Seal
Absorbing account of this well known writer on Turkey’s canoe trip along the eponymous Meander.
South from Ephesus – Travels through Aegean Turkey ~ Jeremy Seal
Idiosyncratic but nevertheless entertaining and historically fascinating journey through South West Turkey.
Iron Earth, Copper Sky ~ Yashar Kemal
The Kurdish writer Yashar Kemal is the undisputed grandfather of the modern Turksih novel and has long been a candidate for the Nobel prize. Many of his novels have been translated into English by his now-deceased wife, Thilda Kemal.
Sins and Innocents ~ Burhan Sonmez
A moving novel based partly in Cambridge and partly recounting Kurdish folktales from the Anatolian steppe.
The Forty Rules of Love ~ Elif Şafak
One of Turkey’s best-selling modern novels
The Middle Sea ~ John Julius Norwich.
A scholarly and thorough account of the history of the Mediterranean from early Greek times to the present day. Being a specialist on both Byzantium and Sicily, this book gives a fascinating background into the place of Sicily in the Mediterranean.
The Great Sea ~ David Abulafia.
A less Eurocentric account of the history of the Mediterranean than Norwich’s and extremely readable.