Top 10 Books on my Istanbul Travel Reading List

I love to read a selection of books based on the country I’m travelling to to help with my planning and to get me in the mood.

Just at the moment, I’m travelling a lot on business and I don’t have time do much preparation, if any, for these short trips.

a1_20150403__DSC2841_6000 x 4000However, later this month I’m heading back to Istanbul on a photography workshop and I’m using this long Easter weekend to get some serious reading done (when I’m not blogging!)

So here is my top 10 selection for my Istanbul preparation.

Istanbul: memories and a city
by Orhan Pamuk, 2005
-the opening sentence sets the scene for this autobiography and history of a city combined: “From a very young age, I suspected there was more to my world than I could see: somewhere in the streets of Istanbul, in a house resembling ours, there lived another Orhan so much like me that he could pass for my twin, even my double.”

The bridge: a journey between Orient and Occident
by Geert Mak, 2007 – English translation by Sam Garrett, 2008
-a slim, fascinating and easy-to-read history of the Galata Bridge that pulls you in from the start: “On the bridge, everything is done in millions. ‘Yesterday I caught twenty million worth, nothing but sardines’ ”  This looks a very promising book, telling the city’s history through the bridge that connects new and old Istanbul and that is home to shops and restaurants on one level; fishermen, hawkers, tourists and commuters on the upper level.

Istanbul: a collection of the poetry of place
edited by Ateş Orga,  2007
-a fascinating anthology of poems, stories and songs that evoke the spirit of Istanbul past and present.

The Forty Rules of Love
by Elif Shafak, 2011
-Shafak is the most read woman writer in Turkey, writing in both English and Turkish.  I coudl have added any of books to my list, but this one was recommended to me today by fellow blogger Creekrose.  The Bastard of Istanbul is also in my reading pile.

Pocket Istanbul
Lonely Planet, Feb 2013
-tried and tested series, easy to flick through and pick out the highlights and has a handy pullout map.

Louis Vuitton City Guide, 2015
-not a travel guide series that I’m familiar with but I’m always up for something new – it is up-to-date which is important in a guidebook, it has guest sections by art historian and designer, Serdar Gülgün, and it looks stylish in mauve and brown hardback.

111 places in Istanbul that you must not miss
Marcus X. Schmid, 2014
-111 things you won’t necessarily find in other guidebooks – from park to museum, pudding shop to cemetery, street food seller to mosque.

A tale of four dervishes
Mir Amman, Penguin Classics, 2006
“Now the tale. Please listen and deal justly with it.  Thus it is, as written in Qissa-e-Chahār Darvīsh, and as it is told.  Once upon a time there rules a king in turkey,…”  Who can resist such a polite invitation to read on?

The Janissary Tree
Jason Goodwin, 2007
-a mystery set in 1830s Istanbul, with a crime-solving eunuch investigating the murder of a concubine in the Sultan’s harem!

Istanbulfood: after the perfect bite

Istanbul Food

-my list wouldn’t be complete without a blog, and a food one at that!

Linked to Top Ten TBR and Book Beginnings.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 3 April 2015aDSC_0636_pp

7 thoughts on “Top 10 Books on my Istanbul Travel Reading List

  1. I too like to read a combination of fiction and nonfiction about an area I’m traveling in to help connect me to it. Thanks for reminding me that I need to start collecting for this year’s planned travels!


  2. What a cracking reading list! 111 places 🙂 🙂 They’d better be close together or you might have to extend your stay! Happy reading, Debs! Sounds an idyllic Easter to me.


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