The best books about Turkey 📚

Browse the best books on Turkey as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Ancient Turkey: A Traveller's History

Ancient Turkey: A Traveller's History

By Seton Lloyd

Why this book?

This is the vicarious traveler’s delight. ‘Sensory’ doesn’t quite cover the delightful descriptives in Lloyd’s ‘Ancient Turkey’. He takes you on a journey across the varied and beautiful landscape of Anatolia and though time as well - from prehistory through the Bronze Age when the Hittite Empire dominated and the legend of Troy was born, on to the time of King Midas and right up to the Greek and Roman periods.
From the list:

The best books on the Hittite Empire

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Book cover of The Road to En-Dor Being an Account of How Two Prisoners of War at Yozgad in Turkey Won Their Way to Freedom

The Road to En-Dor Being an Account of How Two Prisoners of War at Yozgad in Turkey Won Their Way to Freedom

By Elias Henry Jones

Why this book?

Jones was a Welshman who served in the Indian Army in Mesopotamia. He was among the 13,000+ officers and men who surrendered at Kut al-Amara in April 1916. However, he has nothing to say of the horrors of the siege of Kut, or the fate that befell common soldiers, many of whom were marched to death in the Syrian desert. As an officer, Jones was dispatched to the relative comfort of a prisoner of war camp in Yozgat, in central Turkey, and his story begins there in 1917. It is a madcap story of how the British prisoners conspired to…

From the list:

The best books by Western veterans of the Great War in the Middle East

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Book cover of Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

By Gabrielle Hamilton

Why this book?

Hamilton’s memoir recalls her turbulent family history, her sexual ambiguity, her love of Italy, and more unexpectedly, her Italian mother-in-law, who nurtured her passion for cooking. It doesn’t hurt that outside the kitchen, Hamilton earned her M.F.A in fiction writing from the University of Michigan and can write about the devastating fallout from her parents’ divorce with the same acuity and poetry she deploys about cooking an egg. In the waiting room, where her galloping curiosity and generosity of spirit suffuse you, be reminded that there is a whole world out there, and that past this unhappy day, there…

From the list:

The best books to read in the waiting room

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Book cover of Dervish: Travels in Modern Turkey

Dervish: Travels in Modern Turkey

By Tim Kelsey

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books to understand the heart & soul of Turkey and its people

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Book cover of Portrait of a Turkish Family

Portrait of a Turkish Family

By Irfan Orga

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books to understand the heart & soul of Turkey and its people

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Book cover of I Confess: Revelations in Exile

I Confess: Revelations in Exile

By Kooshyar Karimi

Why this book?

Kooshyar Karimi wrote this stunning memoir so beautifully it blew me away. Now a Sydney-based doctor and writer, he grew up as a Jew in Muslim Iran, hiding his origins from a brutal regime, always with a humorous eye. 

It is such a powerful story of survival, torture, and spying, plus forced deceptions and betrayal of others for helping desperate female rape victims. The struggle for redemption and eventual escape make his journey an unforgettable one.  

From the list:

The best books on refugee odysseys to freedom

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