12 Must Read Books About Modern Turkey
Anyone looking for books about modern Turkey has an enormous range to choose from. Including well known foreign and Turkish authors to self-publishing newbies climbing the ranks of Amazon, themes vary from fiction set in among modern day landscapes, to autobiographies, lifestyle and political opinions.
Some fail to hit the mark while others take you on an armchair journey through the country that these days can no longer be stereotyped and is often misunderstood. So, if you are an avid reader, which books should you put on your reading list?
12 Must Read Books About Modern Turkey
1: Three Daughters of Eve (Fiction)
Elif Shafik, Turkey’s most renewed female author, spends her time between the country and the UK and her fame has arisen from intimate writings about life for women. “The Bastard of Istanbul” and “Honour” are just two of her best-selling novels with a feminine identity throughout.
Two years ago, she published the “Three Daughters of Eve.” Set in Istanbul in 2016, it tells the story of Peri, a wealthy Turkish woman, who spent her youth at Oxford University. There she met two friends and attended classes by a professor specialising in spirituality.
Of course, as with any novel by Elif, a tragic tale is to be told, but she does an excellent job of portraying many faces of modern-day Turkish society through colourful characters and their beliefs.
2: Bosphorus Style: Lifestyle on Istanbul’s Magical Waterway
Once home to the wealthy and influential members of Ottoman society, the Bosphorus Strait is now a subtle blend of historical architecture and modern Turkish lifestyles. This book gives readers a behind the scenes look of nineteen yali mansions, which are Turkey’s most expensive real estate market.
Interviews with owners give an insight into elite circles of Turkish society, the family lifestyle and what living on the Bosphorus means to them. The book pays homage to the history of yali mansions but also respects their importance in modern day Turkey, and of course as an expensive real estate asset.
Plenty of excellent photos as well as a large lettered quotes makes this an easy read. Other books peeking into Turkish homes include….
- Ottoman Chic by Serdar Gulgen. A glimpse into his yali mansion with Ottoman décor.
- Living in Istanbul, published in 1994 by Kenize Mourad
- Turkish Style by Stephane Yerasimos (1992)
- At Home in Turkey by Solvi Dos Santos (2008)
3: The Light of Istanbul (Photography)
Since the age of 16, Jean Michael-Berts has been experimenting with light, and he is now a famous photographer who turned his attention to the streets of Istanbul. This book is fourth in a series of world cities including Tokyo, New York, and Paris and given the raving success of his other books, the Light of Istanbul will also rank highly.
Jean has called upon Alessandra Ricci to write the text, and her expertise about the life and history of Istanbul compliments the excellent photos. Described as the perfect coffee table book, readers with an interest in photography and the biggest city in Turkey will enjoy this quick read.
If you like photography books, also look at….
- Istanbul: City of a Hundred Names. A collaboration between photographer Alex Webb, and prominent author, Orhan Pamuk.
- Istanbul: Photographs by Boogie, a street photography book focusing on Istanbul’s residents.
- A Handful of Dust: Photographs and stories of Syrian refugees living in Turkey
4: Turkey: What Everyone Needs to Know
From light-hearted to heavy reading, Author Andrew Finkel has published a portrayal of modern-day Turkey living on the Ottoman legacy and what problems this imposes. Including a section about Turkey’s EU ambitions, he discusses historical events that led the country to where it is now including past military coups, the economy, how Turkey fits into the global arena, and the role of religion in everyday life. Andrew has lived in Turkey for many decades, and his role as a journalist has led him into every nook and cranny of society.
5: Land of the Lakes
For this book, David Barchard, another journalist who has travelled extensively in Turkey, turns his attention to the lesser talked about south-east region with its entirely different lifestyle to that of the western half of the country.
Interviews with locals who are seeing changes in their lives through energy and dam projects form the main bulk of the book along with his own thoughts, but high resolution and excellent photos by Manuel Citak cut through the heavy reading text.
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The Café Culture of Istanbul: A revival in coffee has led to a re-birth of Café culture in Istanbul. This article gives the low down on the best pavement cafes and what to drink to embrace the city’s love for the humble coffee bean.