Before visiting Turkey, I knew very little about the Ottoman empire. The Sultan’s Seal is a historical novel that served as a great introduction for my first trip to Turkey. This short and enjoyable read follows Kamil Pasha and his British sidekick Sybil as they investigate the death of the palace governess. It’s a murder mystery with a little romance and politics that will teach you about the Sultans, hamam rituals, the neighborhoods and layout of Istanbul, with a few Turkish words thrown in too. And if you like the book, there’s two more Kamil Pasha books to indulge in: The Abyssinian Proof and The Winter Thief.
I am also in the process of reading a few books by Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize. His Museum of Innocence is a modern love story that includes a ticket to an actual museum you can visit in Istanbul. Another book of his, My Name is Red, follows a miniaturist who illuminates manuscripts for the sultan in the sixteenth century. I plan to read his personal memoir next, titled Istanbul. I recommend his books if you wish to dive into Turkish history even more.
Everything in the photo above is from Turkey: the carpet we purchased in Goreme, the hand painted ceramic trivet from the artists shops just outside the Church of Chora in Istanbul, and the coffee pot and hookah from the Grand Bazaar.
Other great souvenirs to bring home: leather slippers, hamam towels, suzani blankets, coffee and spices are all great options that you will have no trouble finding.