Saturday, 22 June, 2024

Perched where East meets West, Turkey was once a stopover on the Silk Road, connecting the cultures of Europe and the Balkans to exotic Eastern locales. That explains why its history has as many layers as a piece of baklava.

The invaders are a greatest hits list of big names: the Greeks, the Byzantine Empire, the Fourth Crusade, and the Ottoman Empire (and its Janissaries). Then WWI and the birth of a new nation: The Republic of Turkey, with westward-gazing Atatürk at the helm.

Now, this stunningly beautiful country is a dreamy holiday destination. There are beaches on the Black, Aegean, and Mediterranean Seas to immerse you in soothing waters.

Enjoy colorful Turkish cuisine with strong tea and coffee to fuel your adventures. Listen to slinky, rhythmic folk music, have a soak at a hammam (Turkish bath), and meet friendly locals with a charming predilection for chit-chat.

For centuries, travelers have been enchanted by the Istanbul skyline and the romantic Bosphorous Strait. But don’t sleep on sights outside that fabled city, like the hot air balloons and otherworldly terrain of Cappadocia, the ancient ruins of the Library of Pergamum, and Gaziantep with the sweet scent of baklava bakeries floating in the air.

our podcast

In this episode, we romp through the Byzantine Empire, get gossipy about the Turkish language, and celebrate sweet words of devotion. Then we recommend five books that took us to Turkey on the page, including an Ottoman-era murder mystery starring a food-loving detective, a historical novel that weaves art and multiple narrators, an auto-bio graphic novel set in 1980s Istanbul, a classic novel of romantic suspense, and a thriller/coming-of-age story set in modern Istanbul. (show notes / transcript)

recommended books

Black Amber

buy | read review

Dare to Disappoint

buy | read review

The Historian

buy | read review

The Janissary Tree

buy | read review

Journey Into Fear

buy | read review


buy | read review

My Name Is Red

buy | read review

Three Daughters of Eve

buy | read review

Top image courtesy of Osman Köycü/Unsplash.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

featured posts

It's been said that the best way to embark on a trip through Turkey is to arrive by sea in Istanbul. We believe it! Give us all the Bosphorous sunsets, baklava, the strong Turkish coffee, and bustling Grand Bazaar.
In this lyrical poem about Istanbul, Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet captures all the complicated feelings inspired by 'home.' It's a romantic love letter, a protest, and a clear-eyed tribute to the city on the Bosphorus.
Cats are some of the most accomplished laze-abouts on the planet, and Istanbul, Turkey — with its cat-friendly residents and long, lazy days of sunshine — is a feline paradise. Say merhaba to the cats of Istanbul.
This might very well be the ideal book to read in the fall. It's made for shorter days, eerie twilights, crunchy leaves, and a nip in the air — a thrilling tour of Eastern Europe, libraries, history, and legend.
Take a virtual trip to Turkey with these unputdownable books, including an Ottoman-era murder mystery, a moving autobio graphic novel, two Istanbul-set thrillers, a WWII espionage novel, and a sweeping adventure tale.

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter

Join our Substack to get our FREE newsletter with podcast updates and behind-the-scenes info join in fun chats about books and travel.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
Sign up for our free Substack!
follow us

Content on this site is ©2024 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.