Resources for Expatriates Living in Turkey and Istanbul

Living in Turkey is an incredible experience, surrounded by history and culture. If perhaps, you wish to delve deeper into Turkish life there are many books available to you.

Orhan Pamuk

Orhan Pamuk is a Turkish novelist, a screenwriter and an academic. In 2006 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was born in Istanbul in 1952. His books portray life in Turkey, warts and all. Pamuk’s depiction of Turkey is often grey and grim. For this reason, he is not very popular in Turkey despite being the country’s best selling writer.

My name is Red (1998) is about miniaturists, an early Persian art form, in 16th century Ottoman Constantinople. It is an intriguing read that offers insights into Ottoman life.

Snow (2002) is a dark and solemn description of life in Kars in eastern Turkey. It is told by a journalist who has returned to Turkey after twelve years of exile in Germany. He has returned to investigate the spate of suicides in the city. This book depicts many of modern Turkey’s social and cultural tensions.

Istanbul: Memories and the City (2005), an autobiographical memoir and a window into life in Istanbul and the Bosphorus. It is a melancholy read as Pamuk describes the changes to family tradition and his beloved city. It was a bestseller however Pamuk lost many of his Turkish fan’s support. He also lost contact with his brother who found his account of their family life insulting.

The Museum of Innocence (2008) is a novel that is set in Istanbul between the years of 1975 and 1984. It is a love story but also a study of life in Istanbul at this time. Pamuk opened a museum with the same name in Beyoğlu.

Birds Without Wings

This novel was written in 2004 by Louis de Bernieres, a British author born in London in 1954. He also wrote Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

Bird Without Wings is a historical saga set in the now ghost town of Kayaköy near Fethiye. It is a tragic love story intertwined with the realities of war during the Gallipoli campaign. A brilliant read.

The Bastard of Istanbul

Elif Shafak is one of Turkey’s best contemporary writers, public speakers, and women’s rights activists.

The Bastard of Istanbul is the story of a family and its connection to the 1915 Armenian genocide. The genocide is a taboo subject in Turkey. It is set in the USA and Turkey and depicts family dynamics and the differences in cultures. Shafak is often controversial and committed to freedom of speech which is probably why she now lives in London. She has published seventeen books to date.

The Forty Rules of Love (2009) delves into the teachings and poetry of Rumi.

Honour (2012) looks at honour killing and Turkish society and beliefs.

Portrait of a Turkish Family

This autobiographical memoir of a Turkish family was written by Irfan Orga in 1950. It describes life in Istanbul through Ottoman times to the modern Turkish Republic of Kemal Atatürk. It brilliantly describes everyday life in those times, such as the women meeting together at the Hamam for gossip and a break from their duties.


Lonely Planet Turkey 2021

Lonely Planet Istanbul 2017

Fodor’s Essential Turkey 2019

Istanbul: Guide to Sinan’s Mosques 2019

Rick Steve’s Istanbul 2020

Strolling Through Istanbul 2019


The Turkish Cookbook 2019 is 550 recipes from the traditional Turkish kitchen.

Expat Sofra: Culinary Tales of Foreign Women in Turkey is a combination of ex-pat stories and recipes.

The Sultan’s Kitchen is a classic cookbook for Turkish cuisine.

Useful websites

Government sites.




Foreigners living in Turkey