Reading, Istanbul

posted by: Emma

Istanbul may have a lack of quiet green spaces and respect for cyclists on the roadTurkish magazines is scant at best but it is great for readers. Despite ‘Shutter Island’ being the only English language novel to be found in the vast French and Turkish library of our rented flat, books are one thing we haven’t been short of this winter.

When we first arrived we found a giant cardboard bookcase in Taksim park hiding a second hand book fair and greedily purchased a few paperbacks. Other books came from England with friends and via Warmshowers guest’s parents. We could have brought new at a number of excellent bookstores with well-stocked English sections, but instead we swapped books with friends here and traded others through the excellent Ebru book exchange tucked away in the Pera back streets.

Promising that I would be sticking around in Istanbul for a while, I was even given access to the book exchange’s library section, which is frankly where all the best Turk-authored books are hidden. The following are some we managed to finish this winter.

  • Memet, My Hawk, Yashar Kemal – Without a mention of Istanbul, this tale of a boy turned bandit looks to Turkeys interior
  • The Flea Palace, Elif Shafak – Portrayal of the inhabitants of a ‘typical’ inner Istanbul block of flats
  • The Black Book, Orhan Pahmuk – A slow burning meditation on identity wrapped loosely in the search for a missing wife
  • Istanbul, The Imperial City, John Freely – A history of Istanbul which we’re racing to finish before we leave Istanbul. I wish I’d picked it up upon arrival
  • A Fez of the Heart, Jeremy Seal –An outsiders perspective of travel through Turkey in winter

Our lounge

It can be difficult to get a sense of the literature of a place while you are cycling through it, so it has been a pleasure to learn a little more about Turkey through its gifted writers.

With my thirst for a good story quenched for a little while, I’ll be leaving Istanbul with just a few books in my panniers, hoping that the literature gods shine kindly on me as I tackle more remote roads.

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3 responses to “Reading, Istanbul”

  • I just saw today is 365 days of Rolling tales on the road. Congrats on a year of cycle touring guys. enjoy your last few days in Istanbul, I am sorry not to have been able to get across for a visit, and as always remain all shades of green with envy over your continuing adventures.
    X Scoop

  • Scoop on March 21st, 2011 at 7:30 pm
  • Hey guys,

    All the best for the start of your next leg, will b e folloing with intrest to see how things work out, Fingers crossed for that Mongolian visa..

    S and A

  • Sergai and Adrienn on March 24th, 2011 at 2:16 am
  • Scoop – Thanks (and for pointing it out as well.. had it in my head it was later in March). We’ll just have to return to Istanbul with you in tow another time?
    Sergai and Adrienn – Re: Mongolian visas, our fingers are crossed as well. Good luck with the rest of your trip planning.

  • Emma on March 25th, 2011 at 9:30 pm

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