Top 7 non-fiction books to take with you to Istanbul

Top 7 non-fiction books to take with you to Istanbul

Joshua Bruce Allen
May 31, 2017

The large number of books available on Istanbul makes it hard to separate the dry from the inspiring. These recommended books will show you why Istanbul deserves its place in the pantheon of great cities.

Top 7 non-fiction books to with you to Istanbul

Bettany Hughes
Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities

The product of a decade’s research, British historian Hughes’ book spans 8,000 years of history in Istanbul, from the earliest ruins discovered in the Yenikapı excavations on to the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and present day. This account manages to be comprehensive, detailed, and readable at the same time.

Orhan Pamuk
Istanbul: Memories and the City

More than just a memoir, this book introduces us to Istanbul artists, writers, neighborhoods, and lifestyles through the prism of Pamuk’s early life. No guided tour could possibly be as personal or immersive
as this. It is also invaluable for understanding the melancholy atmosphere and romantic obsessions of Pamuk’s novels.

Philip Mansel
Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire
British historian Mansel’s book takes a thematic approach
to the city, talking as fluently about culture and religion as it does about battles and sultans. Mansel has a talent for picking out intriguing characters who flit between European and Asian roles, as well as for recounting real incidents that are stranger than fiction.

An Istanbul Anthology: Travel Writing Through the Centuries

Edited by Turkish writer and journalist Kaya Genç, the selections in this book illustrate the many perspectives and personalities that foreign visitors have brought to the
city. Accounts by Arthur Conan Doyle, Andre Gide, Gustave Flaubert, and Ernest Hemingway demonstrate the outside eye’s eternal fascination with Istanbul.

John Freely
Stamboul Sketches: Encounters in Old Istanbul

American travel writer and historian Freely is better known for his lengthy tomes, but this book takes a shorter and more eccentric approach. Subjects include Istanbul’s street cats, wandering dervishes and folk singers, the seasonal winds, city markets, cemeteries, and the lunar calendar.

M. Şükrü Hanioğlu
Atatürk: An Intellectual Biography
Although his face looks out from a million portraits in Istanbul, not everyone agrees on what Mustafa Kemal Atatürk actually symbolizes. In this book, Princeton University academic Hanioğlu traces the origins of Atatürk’s thought from the late- Ottoman era to the new Republic of Turkey, showing how political, social, and philosophical trends have shaped debates that are still current today.

Murat Gül and Trevor Howells
Istanbul Architecture
Once you look past the simple binaries of Greek-Turkish or ancient-modern, there is a multiplicity of architectural styles on display in Istanbul. Gül and Howells cover all the major structures of Istanbul area by area, from the historical peninsula to the Asian side and the northern shores of the Bosphorus. With this book in hand, you will see the marvelous fusion of influences that make up every street.