3 must-read books from: Turkey

This article is also available in: Italiano

3 books able to tell the present and the past of Turkey, one of the most fascinating countries in the world

Small but necessary premise

This is not a ranking but a suggestion for those approaching these countries and areas of the world for the first time and is also linked to the personal taste of the author. Putting only 3 works (thus risking to leave out entire countries) was a very specific choice due to something that is often forgotten: books are not free. Our intent is to provide beginners and experts with 3 truly “indispensable” titles, which can thus allow them to enjoy a good text and / or discover something new, allowing them to only make “good” shopping.


A final clarification: in this case I focused on Turkey as a country, deliberately leaving out the “Turkish world”; in the future, however, an episode dedicated to the Turkish-Mongolian world should be released. Do you have different “must-sees”? We are very curious to know them, in the future we will start direct 30 minutes / 1 hour starting from these lists; stay connected to receive news. We leave you to the list, good reads.

“The black book” by Orhan Pamuk

In a labyrinthine and melancholy Istanbul, Galip, a young lawyer suddenly discovers that his wife has vanished into thin air. Even her half-brother, Celal, a famous journalist, is nowhere to be found. Thus begins a philosophical thriller that will lead the improvised detective to discover what he never wanted to know.

The Black Book

An incredible novel that knows how to reward patience and determination more than many others in moving forward to the last page. The book is in fact not fluent at all and tends to use (as in every work of Pamuk) many more words than necessary, what you will achieve at the end of the journey, however, will be absolutely worth it. Through a search in Celal’s texts and memories, the reader will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in strange mystical currents, wonderful places in Istanbul and, above all, in a profound reflection on the role of the writer and the word. Going to recover Attar (which we discovered thanks to this book), Pamuk will give us profound reflections, transforming the text into a “search for being”. Extraordinarily fascinating but, as mentioned, it requires a reader’s effort, rewarded with interest.

“Like a Sword Wound” by Ahmet Altan

The novel tells the story of Mehpare Hanim, a mysterious and charming woman, capable of seducing even Sheikh Yusuf Effendi, an illustrious master of a school of dervishes. Realizing the soul of his bride, the Sheikh will however be forced to part with it, even without stopping to think about it. Mehpare Hanim will soon find new love in Hüseyin Hikmet Bey, son of the sultan’s official doctor and fresh from his return from France, where he trained according to Western customs. The union of these 2 souls will however be made irreconcilable by Mehpare’s soul and by the imminent transformation of the Great Sick, the Ottoman Empire that is experiencing its last moments of life. Will it be up to the Organization for the Union and Progress to transform it or will it be its executioner?

One of the most interesting historical novels ever to understand the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In his “Ottoman Quartet” (“Like a Sword Wound” is the first book), Ahmet Altan will take us into the final moments of this great and historic power, allowing us a direct look at such decisive times. Furthermore, through skilful plots, we will have the opportunity to discover not only what happened in Istanbul, however a stage of excellence, but in the entire Ottoman world and even in Germany, its great ally in the First World War. Text, unlike that of Pamuk, extremely smooth and fluid, able to make you spend pleasant moments of relaxation between plot and story.

“The Passion: Football and the Story of Modern Turkey” by Patrick Keddie

Journalist and football obsessive Patrick Keddie takes us on a wild journey through Turkey’s role in the world’s most popular game. He travels from the streets of Istanbul, where fans dodge tear gas and water cannons, to the plains of Anatolia, where women are fighting for their rights to wear shorts and play sports. He meets a gay referee facing death threats, Syrian footballers trying to piece together their shattered dreams, and Kurdish teams struggling to play football amid war. `The Passion’ also tells the story of the biggest match-fixing scandal in European football, and sketches its murky connections to the country’s leadership. In doing so he lifts the lid on a rarely glimpsed side of modern Turkey. Funny, touching and beautifully observed, this is the story of Turkey as we have never seen it before.


The best way to understand Erdoğan‘s Turkey in a way never seen before. Anyone who has been even for a few hours in Turkey knows perfectly well the almost sacred value that football has acquired over the years, so much so that it has become a main element of culture and politics. Thanks to this book you will discover unthinkable links between the two worlds, immersing yourself more and more in something that starts from the football fields to reach the highest spheres of Turkish power. The work also alternates parts that are actually focused on football with other parallel but fundamental ones for understanding the contemporary history of this great and incredible country. The text is in English and there are no traces of translation, but the level is not too difficult and without a shadow of a doubt a reading that is worth the effort.

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