Thursday, 25 February 2016

An Istanbul bookshop

'So often, in the past as well,' Van Gogh wrote in a letter, 'a visit to a bookshop has cheered me up and reminded me that there are good things in the world.'

Whenever I travel I like to go into bookshops, even if I can't understand the language. One bookshop I always visit when I'm in Istanbul - or actually two on opposite sides of the popular road between Sultanahmet and the Grand Bazaar in the middle of the historic city - are the English language bookshops of Galeri Kayseri.

Book shop Istanbul, Turkey

They have an unbeatable collection of book on Turkey in English - art books, history books, novels - everything from ancient Turkey to modern times, the Byzantines to the Ottomans, from Orhan Pamuk to...well me! It also showcases a lot of English language publishing on history and art produced in Turkey itself, books you can't find anywhere else. They're simply the best bookshops on Turkey in the world for English language readers.

I always drop in to see what's new and to talk with the two brothers who run the shops, Selahattin and Şener Tüysüz, about books and the history and architecture of Istanbul, on which they're immensely knowledgeable.

Selahattin in the main shop

Whereas everyone else in Istanbul is trying to sell me carpets, Selahattin and Şener sell me ideas for new books that I should write. Just now - or rather for my last couple of visits - they've been urging me to write a book about Suleiman the Magnificent, the greatest of sultans in the Ottoman golden age. It's a fantastically rich period of history. Or historical thrillers. I might just be tempted, one way or another!

 I'd always recommend a visit to Istanbul - and a trip to Galeri Kayseri in the process.