10 books like Dinner of Herbs

By Carla Grissman,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Dinner of Herbs. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Turkish Awakening

By Alev Scott,

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

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…

Turkish Awakening

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…


Dervish

By Tim Kelsey,

Book cover of Dervish: Travels in Modern Turkey

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.

Dervish

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…


The Forbidden Modern

By Nilüfer Göle,

Book cover of The Forbidden Modern: Civilization and Veiling

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.

The Forbidden Modern

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…


Portrait of a Turkish Family

By Irfan Orga,

Book cover of Portrait of a Turkish Family

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…

Portrait of a Turkish Family

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…


Border

By Kapka Kassabova,

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

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.  

Border

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…


The Ottomans 1700-1923

By Virginia Aksan,

Book cover of The Ottomans 1700-1923: An Empire Besieged

Hot off the press, and building on the success of Aksan's earlier volume on the later Ottoman empire, this book charts the transformation of this once-formidable state into a colonial client of Britain, France, Germany, and Russia. It traces the lives of friends and foes of the Ottomans who witnessed the rise and fall of a constitutional experiment in an era of shrinking borders, global consciousness, ethno-religious nationalism, and revolutionary fervour. The narrative's primary focus is on those who negotiated with, fought for, defended, and finally challenged the sultan and the system in its final days just prior to WWI, resulting in a legacy of international relations and communal violence that continues into the present.   

The Ottomans 1700-1923

By Virginia Aksan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ottomans 1700-1923 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The chronology has been extended to 1918 to cover the end of the Ottoman Empire which provides students with the whole picture of the rise and fall of the Empire.

An introductory chapter giving an overview of the whole period, perfect for lecturers to assign as an introductory reading to their course, enabling students of all levels and understanding to be on the same level for their course.

More on society and how war and militarisation affected Ottoman society which provides students with the social as well as the military history giving a fuller picture of the period.


Five Years in Turkey

By Liman von Sanders,

Book cover of Five Years in Turkey

For all the interest in the British experience of the Great War in the Middle East, there are precious few books that captured the other side of the trenches in the immediate aftermath of the war. Liman von Sanders was one of the few. His book first appeared in German in 1919, but was published in English eight years later and gave American and British readers their first real sense of the Ottoman and German experience of the war. Liman began service in Ottoman domains as the head of a German military mission to rebuild the Turkish Army after the catastrophic Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. Given all he knew about the low level of Ottoman war preparedness, he was outspoken against concluding an alliance to draw Turkey into the Central Alliance. But once the die was cast, Liman threw himself into the Ottoman war effort with all he had. The…

Five Years in Turkey

By Liman von Sanders,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Five Years in Turkey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Otto Liman von Sanders (1855 - 1929) will always be associated with the Dardanelles campaign in which he commanded the Turkish Fifth Army, the army that defended Gallipoli, defeated the allied invasion and, after a campaign lasting some eight months (April-December 1915) forced the Allies to give up and withdraw. He was a cavalry officer who was commanding the German 22nd Division in Cassel when, in June 1913, he was offered the post of Chief of a German Military Mission in Turkey: he accepted and took up his post in December of that year and took over command of the…


Turkey

By Suzanne Swan,

Book cover of Turkey

As publishers Dorling Kindersley have invented a great format, juxtaposing pictures and information in a way nobody else has ever done. The volume on Turkey is a browser’s paradise and if it doesn’t inspire you to want to visit the country and its largest city, then there’s something wrong with you. The introduction to Turkish life and the 80 or so pages on Istanbul are superb, cramming in so much knowledge but in a way that lets you skim and peruse it at your own pace, skipping about in the text, and lost in awe over the photographs of human structures and scenery. A Turkish traveler must-have!

Turkey

By Suzanne Swan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The guide that shows you what others only tell you! Fancy de-stressing on paradise beaches or discovering grand palaces in the city? Make sure you don't miss a thing with this essential guide to Turkey. Meander through mesmerising landscapes and discover the hustle and bustle of mystical Istanbul using the unique cutaways and 3D models. Relevant tips on where to discover historical gems and up to date cultural facts will ensure that you stay one step ahead with where you want to go and what you want to see!
Voted Best Guide Book series by Guardian and Observer readers in…


Twice a Stranger

By Bruce Clarke,

Book cover of Twice a Stranger: The Mass Expulsions That Forged Modern Greece and Turkey

We are reminded on almost a daily basis of the plight of refugees in fragile boats that this sea can be cruel as well as kind. The present diaspora has its forerunners – in this book the great population exchange of 1923 that saw the displacement of two million people across the Mediterranean: Greeks living in the Ottoman Empire, Turks living in Greece. Bruce Clarke both explains the chain of events in the aftermath of the First World War and records the personal stories of those who were uprooted from the places they called home. They have a familiar resonance, the repeating patterns of memory and loss: ‘I remember the day they went away,’ recorded a Greek woman of her Muslim neighbours. ‘Some kissed the earth, some took bowls of soil with them. They were decent types; their menfolk used to attend our funerals, and we would exchange presents of…

Twice a Stranger

By Bruce Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, nearly two million citizens in Turkey and Greece were expelled from homelands. The Lausanne treaty resulted in the deportation of Orthodox Christians from Turkey to Greece and of Muslims from Greece to Turkey. The transfer was hailed as a solution to the problem of minorities who could not coexist. Both governments saw the exchange as a chance to create societies of a single culture. The opinions and feelings of those uprooted from their native soil were never solicited.

In an evocative book, Bruce Clark draws on new archival research…


Anyush

By Martine Madden,

Book cover of Anyush

Anyush’s eponymous heroine is a young Armenian girl whose life is turned upside-down by the genocide carried out by the Ottomans under the Young Turks during fighting in World War One. I was only vaguely aware of the genocide before picking up the novel and it combines a beautiful love story between Anyush and Turkish captain Jahan with a vivid account of the horrors people faced. Beautifully researched and written by Martine Madden, it’s a book that both enthralled and humbled me. 

Anyush

By Martine Madden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Ottoman Empire, 1915

On the Black Sea coast, Anyush Charcoudian dances at her friend's wedding, dreaming of a life beyond her small Armenian village. Defying tradition, she embarks on a secret and dangerous affair with a Turkish officer, Captain Jahan Orfalea. As the First World War rages, the Armenian people are branded enemies of the state, and atrocities grow day by day. Torn apart and catapulted into a struggle to survive in the face of persecution and hatred, the lovers strive desperately to be reunited.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Turkey, travel, and the Ottoman Empire?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Turkey, travel, and the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey Explore 67 books about Turkey
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The Ottoman Empire Explore 42 books about the Ottoman Empire