This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Turkey guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.
Since time immemorial travellers have written about their rambles across Turkey. Herodotus, Xenophon and Strabo have all left us accounts of Anatolia before Christ.
Pin this image The famous march to Persia by the Greek army, immortalised in Xenophon’s Anabasis (c 400 BC), was retraced some 2400 years later by Shane Brennan in his fabulous tale In the Tracks of the Ten Thousand: A Journey on Foot Through Turkey, Syria and Iraq (2005).
Pin this image Mary Wortley Montagu’s Turkish Embassy Letters (1763) details the author’s travels to İstanbul with her husband, the British ambassador to Turkey, in 1716. It’s a surprisingly nonjudgmental account of life at the heart of the Ottoman Empire.
Pin this image In From the Holy Mountain (1997), William Dalrymple retraces the journey of a 6th-century monk through eastern Byzantium, from Mt Athos, Greece, with stops in İstanbul and Anatolia. It’s a gripping meditation on the declining Christian communities.
Pin this image Rory MacLean follows idealistic folk of another kind through a harshly changed world in Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India (2006).
Pin this image Also researched in the 1950s, Irfan Orga’s evocative The Caravan Moves On: Three Weeks Among Turkish Nomads (1958) mixes travelogue with insights into the lives and lore of the nomads.
Pin this image The disappearing Yörük, once one of Anatolia’s largest nomadic tribes, have long captivated writers; another excellent example is Bolkar: Travels with a Donkey in the Taurus Mountains (1982), Dux Schneider’s bitter-sweet account of the Yörük and Tatars today.
Pin this image If you want some beach reading, Turkish Coast: Through Writers’ Eyes (2008; edited by Rupert Scott) examines the coastline from İzmir to Antalya with the help of scribes from Plutarch to Freya Stark.
More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.