From the Bosphorus to the bazaars to the beaches, Turkey is positively vibrating with energy. Whether you’re exploring the breathtaking mosques, shopping for intricately patterned rugs, drinking tea with locals, or exploring the hidden gems of this labyrinthine city, Istanbul will lure you in at every corner.

Istanbul: Memories and the City
by Orhan Pamuk

pianoWho better to enlighten you about one of the most magical cities than it’s most acclaimed writer, Orhan Pamuk? In Istanbul: Memories and the City, Pamuk lifts the veil on his personal history, its travails and delights, shares the private details of his family relations, explores his own genesis as a writer, and brings to life the immense and intoxicating place that is Istanbul.

The Bastard of Istanbul
by Elif Shafak

pianoLike the panoply of characters, events, and leaps in time that distinguish The Bastard of Istanbul, the book comes replete with its own dramatic history. Written by a Turkish woman in English, published in translation in Turkey to bestselling accolades, and then landing the author in court for “insulting Turkishness,” the book tells the story of two families whose intertwined history reveals part of Turkey’s painful past.

An Armchair Traveller’s History of Istanbul
by Richard Tillinghast

pianoOne of the few traditional guidebooks on our list of must-reads, Richard Tillinghast’s classic book on Istanbul adds depth and dimension to any traveler’s wandering through the city. Straddling the cultural divide between Europe and Asia, Istanbul bears the traces of so many different influences. From the city’s cafes to its magnificent architecture, its waterways, and its history, Tillinghast opens our eyes to an ever-transforming Turkey.