100 books like Dinner of Herbs

By Carla Grissman,

Here are 100 books that Dinner of Herbs fans have personally recommended if you like Dinner of Herbs. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Turkish Awakening: A Personal Discovery of Modern Turkey

Lisa Morrow Author Of Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries

From my list on the heart & soul of Turkey and its people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Sydney, Australia born sociologist and writer and back in 1990 I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. After three months in the country I was hooked. I now live in Istanbul and write about the people, culture, and history. Using my less than perfect Turkish language skills I uncover the everyday extraordinary of life in modern Istanbul and throughout the country, even though it means I’ve accidentally asked a random stranger to give me a hug and left a butcher convinced I think Turkish sheep are born with their heads on upside down.

Lisa's book list on the heart & soul of Turkey and its people

Lisa Morrow Why did Lisa love this book?

Turkish Awakening is the result of Alev Scott’s desire to discover the land of her mother’s birth and explore contemporary Turkish life and politics. Scott combines personal insights with an objective gaze to focus on a confusing and often contradictory culture, to try to unravel the complex relationships between modernity and religion unfolding in Turkey today. She chats with taxi drivers, examines how sex work and transgender inhabitants coexist, sometimes uneasily, next door to conservative Muslims recently relocated from the country, and explores the impact of popular soap operas featuring the newly rich on the aspirations of ordinary Turks and international tourism. The rise of the ruling Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP – Party for Justice and Progress) is covered as well as Turkey’s changing relationship with the EU. The book ends with Scott’s observations about the protests that sprang to life in Gezi Park in Istanbul and then spread…

By Alev Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Turkish Awakening as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in London to a Turkish mother and British father, Alev Scott moved to Istanbul to discover what it means to be Turkish in a country going through rapid political and social change, with an extraordinary past still linked to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and an ever more surprising present under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

From the European buzz of modern-day Constantinople to the Arabic-speaking towns of the south-east, Turkish Awakening investigates mass migration, urbanisation and economics in a country moving swiftly towards a new position on the world stage.

This is the story of discovering a complex country…


Book cover of Dervish: Travels in Modern Turkey

Lisa Morrow Author Of Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries

From my list on the heart & soul of Turkey and its people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Sydney, Australia born sociologist and writer and back in 1990 I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. After three months in the country I was hooked. I now live in Istanbul and write about the people, culture, and history. Using my less than perfect Turkish language skills I uncover the everyday extraordinary of life in modern Istanbul and throughout the country, even though it means I’ve accidentally asked a random stranger to give me a hug and left a butcher convinced I think Turkish sheep are born with their heads on upside down.

Lisa's book list on the heart & soul of Turkey and its people

Lisa Morrow Why did Lisa love this book?

Dervish was published more than twenty years ago, but the Turks about whom Kelsey writes, archaeologists (and others) in search of the Ark, human rights activists, famous pop stars both straight and transsexual, Kurdish insurgents, desperately poor villagers and aspiring politicians, are still in existence today. Kelsey captures the contradictions inherent to life in modern Turkey, revealing a people as diverse as its varied geographical regions.

By Tim Kelsey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dervish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unlike most writers, who give a European eye-view of a Turkey that mourns all that is lost, and consider it in the light of a holiday resort, this book explores a Turkey which is seeking out its own identity and which is beginning to realise it s not simply a bridge between East and West. The lowlife of tranvestite nightclubs, the problems of heritage, the theatre, the clash between Eastern and Western Turkey, tribes and the current civil war between Turkish military and Kurdish separatists, the booming heroin trade and cultural intolerance all form part of the book, bringing to…


Book cover of The Forbidden Modern: Civilization and Veiling

Lisa Morrow Author Of Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries

From my list on the heart & soul of Turkey and its people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Sydney, Australia born sociologist and writer and back in 1990 I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. After three months in the country I was hooked. I now live in Istanbul and write about the people, culture, and history. Using my less than perfect Turkish language skills I uncover the everyday extraordinary of life in modern Istanbul and throughout the country, even though it means I’ve accidentally asked a random stranger to give me a hug and left a butcher convinced I think Turkish sheep are born with their heads on upside down.

Lisa's book list on the heart & soul of Turkey and its people

Lisa Morrow Why did Lisa love this book?

One of the first things people still ask me about living in Turkey is, do you have to wear a headscarf? Whether a woman covers or not and the manner in which she wears her scarf reflects much more than differing levels of religious conviction. Göle explores the extremely nuanced and conflicting relationships around the subject, combining sociological research with historical analysis and in-depth interviews. She examines the ways young women form their identities in relation to the issue of covering, how they adapt fundamental religious tenets in response to the pressures of modernity, what covering contributes to debates about politics, nationalism, and other issues. Anyone wanting to know more about the practice of veiling beyond the standard modern/backward, secular/religious divides should read The Forbidden Modern. By the way, if you’re still wondering, the answer is no.

By Nilüfer Göle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Forbidden Modern as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book by prominent Turkish scholar Nilufer Goele examines the complex relationships among modernity, religion, and gender relations in the Middle East. Her focus is on the factors that influence young women pursuing university educations in Turkey to adopt seemingly fundamentalist Islamist traditions, such as veiling, and the complex web of meanings attributed to these gender-separating practices. Veiling, a politicized practice that conceptually forces people to choose between the "modern" and the "backward," provides an insightful way of looking at the contemporary Islam-West conflict, shedding light on the recent rise of Islamist fundamentalism in many countries and providing insight into…


Book cover of Portrait of a Turkish Family

Lisa Morrow Author Of Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries

From my list on the heart & soul of Turkey and its people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Sydney, Australia born sociologist and writer and back in 1990 I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. After three months in the country I was hooked. I now live in Istanbul and write about the people, culture, and history. Using my less than perfect Turkish language skills I uncover the everyday extraordinary of life in modern Istanbul and throughout the country, even though it means I’ve accidentally asked a random stranger to give me a hug and left a butcher convinced I think Turkish sheep are born with their heads on upside down.

Lisa's book list on the heart & soul of Turkey and its people

Lisa Morrow Why did Lisa love this book?

Orga’s memoir begins with scenes from his idyllic childhood as the son of a great beauty, adored by his autocratic grandmother and indulged by all. His was a prosperous family, their future secure under the Ottoman sultans until the First World War broke out and everything changed. They went from enjoying elaborate dinner parties, going to the hamam and sleeping on soft sheets, to living in poverty, waking in dank rooms, and never knowing if there’d be enough to eat. Orga writes without sentiment of the impact of the war on his upper-class family, and the complete reconstruction of society under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the modern Turkish republic. Orga lived and observed the tensions and struggles around sacred and secular life, the divide between rich and poor, and the importance of family to all. Despite the passing of the years, many of the events and…

By Irfan Orga,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Portrait of a Turkish Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Irfan Orga was born into a prosperous family in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire. His mother was a beauty, married at thirteen, who lived in the seclusion of a harem, as befitted a Turkish woman of her class. His grandmother was an eccentric autocrat, determined at all costs to maintain her traditional habits. But the First World War changed everything. Death and financial disaster reigned, the Sultan was overthrown and Turkey became a republic. The family was forced to adapt to an unimaginably impoverished life. In 1941 Irfan Orga arrived in London, and seven years later he wrote this…


Book cover of Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe

Dana Facaros Author Of Northern Greece

From my list on evocative travel about Greece.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Greece 50 years ago, when I had the good fortune of spending a summer on my father’s native island of Ikaria. I bagged my first writing job four years later when I wrote a guide to all the Greek islands. As a travel writer I tend to fall in love with all the places I write about! But Greece is where I feel most at home, and it has inspired some truly memorable travel books. I hope you like some of my all-time favorites.

Dana's book list on evocative travel about Greece

Dana Facaros Why did Dana love this book?

I came across this book while researching my guide to Northern Greece. Kapka Kassabova is a Bulgarian writer now living in the Scottish Highlands, who returned to the land she knew as a child: the once heavily militarized border between Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Her account of the places and people she meets in this forgotten corner of the world are uncanny, full of wonder, tragedy and horror, comedy and beauty, in a place where even in the 21st-century magic and the supernatural still live on.  

By Kapka Kassabova,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Border as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Remarkable: a book about borders that makes the reader feel sumptuously free.” —Peter Pomerantsev

In this extraordinary work of narrative reportage, Kapka Kassabova returns to Bulgaria, from where she emigrated as a girl twenty-five years previously, to explore the border it shares with Turkey and Greece. When she was a child, the border zone was rumored to be an easier crossing point into the West than the Berlin Wall, and it swarmed with soldiers and spies. On holidays in the “Red Riviera” on the Black Sea, she remembers playing on the beach only miles from a bristling electrified fence whose…


Book cover of Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq

Anders Nilsen Author Of Big Questions

From my list on deeply human graphic novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid in the 80s the superhero comics I was obsessed with were beginning to deal with the real world in a new way. And their creators were beginning to push and pull at the boundaries of the medium with a new spirit of play and provocation. I still love comics that seriously deal with real life – its complexities and its profound weirdness – and that push the medium in new directions and reckon with its history. I also want to be absorbed and moved and to identify intently with characters. It’s what I try to do in my own work, and what I look for in that of others.

Anders' book list on deeply human graphic novels

Anders Nilsen Why did Anders love this book?

This is a book about deep listening. It follows two childhood friends – a journalist and a former American soldier – on a kind of road trip through Turkey, Syria and Iraq in the close aftermath of the U.S. war there.

We watch them wrestle over the meaning of the conflict and their places in it. It’s reportage – the author is a third friend, following along, chronicling their conversation and laying out their arguments, blind spots and occasionally questionable reasoning as they try and deal with something almost too big and complicated to get a handle on.

The characters are not generals, or presidents, or militia leaders, they are just two old friends, trying to reckon with a war on a very human scale. Also the watercolored art is gorgeous.

By Sarah Glidden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rolling Blackouts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cartoonist Sarah Glidden follows up her acclaimed debut, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, with Rolling Black- outs, which details her two-month long journey through Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Glidden accompanies her two friends reporters and founders of the journalistic non-profit the Seattle Globalist as they research stories on the Iraq War s effect on the Middle East and, specifically, the war s refugees. Joining them is a former Marine and childhood friend of one of the journalists whose deployment to Iraq in 2007 adds an unexpected and sometimes unwelcome viewpoint, both to the people they come…


Book cover of Angry Nation: Turkey since 1989

Ceren Sengül Author Of Customized Forms of Kurdishness in Turkey: State Rhetoric, Locality, and Language Use

From my list on the relationship between Turkey and Kurds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in political and social events around me, and being from Turkey, it was inevitable not to be surrounded by the news of the conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK that has been going on for decades. However, perhaps due to being a member of the non-Muslim minority community of Turkey myself, I have always been interested in the ‘non-mainstream’ explanations of a state-ethnic group conflict. This interest in alternative explanations led me to study an MSc in Nationalism Studies and to a PhD in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, with the focus of my thesis being Kurdishness in Turkey. 

Ceren's book list on the relationship between Turkey and Kurds

Ceren Sengül Why did Ceren love this book?

Another chronological resume of events in the more recent history of Turkey (since the end of the Cold War), this book is essential reading for anyone who is interested in Turkey.

What made me first interested in this book was its title, Angry Nation, which I thought was very apt to describe the Turkish nation.

Even though this book is about the contemporary history of Turkey in general, its sections on the Kurdish war in the 1990s and war and peace in Kurdistan discuss the state’s actions towards Kurds.

After all, the history of contemporary Turkey would not be complete without talking about its Kurdish and other non-Turkish citizens. 

By Kerem Oktem,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Angry Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its re-emergence as nation-state in 1923, Turkey has often looked like an odd appendix to the West situated in the borderlands of Europe and the Middle East, economically backward, inward looking, marred by political violence, yet a staunch NATO ally, it has been eyed with suspicion by both 'East' and 'West'. The momentous changes in the regional and world order after 1989 have catapulted the country back to the world stage. Ever since, Turkey has turned into a major power broker and has developed into one the largest economies in the world. In the process, however, the country has…


Book cover of Curzon: The Last Phase, 1919-1925: A Study in Post-War Diplomacy

Hans-Lukas Kieser Author Of When Democracy Died: The Middle East's Enduring Peace of Lausanne

From my list on anti-democracy in Turkey & the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

My encounter with young refugees and former political prisoners from Turkey in Basel in the early 1980s decisively oriented me as a future historian toward the Middle East. My studies led me to discover the end of the Ottoman Empire and the post-1918 efforts to bring peace and a new order, both globally and nationally, as a highly under-researched, but essential topic.

Hans-Lukas' book list on anti-democracy in Turkey & the Middle East

Hans-Lukas Kieser Why did Hans-Lukas love this book?

Although partisan and perspectival (pro-British), this book offers invaluable insights into the “Lausanne moment.”

Its author was an insider of the post-Great War Paris conferences and the final Conference of Lausanne. Based on contemporary notes of the author and further material, this book is a main source for the research on the Lausanne Near East Peace Conference.

By Harold Nicolson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Curzon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Harold Nicolson's own words 'This study of Lord Curzon represents the third volume of a trilogy on British diplomacy covering the years from 1870 to 1924. The first volume of that trilogy was a biography entitled Lord Carnock: A Study in the Old Diplomacy. The second volume was a critical survey of the Paris conference called Peacemaking, 1919.' All three volumes are reissued in Faber Finds.
Curzon himself, not a modest man it must be admitted, rated highly the work of his final years. In his 'Literary Testament' dictated only a few hours before his death he said, 'As…


Book cover of Turkish Letters

Lisa Morrow Author Of Inside Out In Istanbul

From my list on exploring and understanding Istanbul.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Sydney, Australia born sociologist and writer and back in 1990 I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. After three months in the country I was hooked. I now live in Istanbul and write about the people, culture, and history. Using my less than perfect Turkish language skills I uncover the everyday extraordinary of life in modern Istanbul even though it means I’ve accidentally asked a random stranger to give me a hug and left a butcher convinced I think Turkish sheep are born with their heads on upside down.

Lisa's book list on exploring and understanding Istanbul

Lisa Morrow Why did Lisa love this book?

Living in a world where we can look at images of places we’re planning to travel without even going there means it’s easy to forget the importance of letters sent from foreign countries. Especially ones as well written as these. Ogier De Busbecq was an ambassador for the Hapsburg Empire in the court of Suleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century, but his observations, comments, and snippets of gossip read like he was in Istanbul last month. He had a keen eye for detail and nothing escaped his notice – palace machinations, dirty politics, and even prison conditions, gleaned from the time he spent incarcerated.

By Ogier De Busbecq,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Turkish Letters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Intelligent but unpretentious, gossipy yet honest, inquiring and unprejudiced - de Busbecq is the sort of man we would all like to meet on our travels. As Habsburg ambassador to the 16th-century court of Suleyman the Magnificent he missed nothing: the intrigue of Roxelana at court, the unloading of Spanish prisoners of war, the yoghurt diet of country Turks, the brutal realities of 16th-century realpolitik, and the charming, but expensive, habit of being wecomed with gifts of flowers by Janissary guardsmen. De Busbecq brings Constantinople, at the heyday of Ottoman power, bursting into life. This is eyewitness history at its…


Book cover of The Lycian Shore: A Turkish Odyssey

Sara Wheeler Author Of Glowing Still: A Woman's Life on the Road

From my list on travel by women to inspire a journey of your own.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the course of my so-called career as a travel writer, the ‘I’ve-Got-A Big-One’ school favoured by the male of the species has ceded ground. Women, less interested in ‘conquering,’ have pioneered a kind of creative non-fiction that suits the travel genre. I prefer it to the blokeish business of seeing how dead you can get. It notices more. As the decades unfurled – Pole to Pole, via Poland – I realised, more and more, the debt I owe to the other women who not only set sail but also unsparingly observed the world that turns within each self. 

Sara's book list on travel by women to inspire a journey of your own

Sara Wheeler Why did Sara love this book?

In many books, Freya Stark (1893 to 1993) covered mostly what we used to call the Middle and Near East – Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan.

In The Lycian Shore she sails in a small yacht along the coast of south-west Turkey. I love this book – it shows what women travel writers can do when they blend history and personal observation. I used to take her chapters apart when I started out to learn how she did it.

By Freya Stark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lycian Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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