If you’re a native English speaker, Turkish can be a challenging language to learn, mostly because it doesn’t belong to the same major language family. Unlike many of the Indo-European tongues that are spoken in close geographical proximity to it, Turkish is a Turkic language. Still, that’s no reason to shy away from reading Turkish books. The Latin alphabet will be familiar enough to give you a leg up. And once you master the alphabet, reading is fairly simple, as each letter corresponds to exactly one sound.
If you’re looking for book recommendations that are specifically geared toward Turkish students, here are a few Babbel-approved picks selected by our language experts. They range from beginner to intermediate reading levels, so you can pick based on your current skill and comfort level.
Turkish Books For Language Learners
Nasrettin Hoca Hikâyeleri (Beginner)
In this anthology of collected stories, Orhan Veli reinterprets classic Turkish folk tales about Nasrettin Hoca, a mythical Sufi hailing from the 13th century who has unconventional ways of handling various situations. It’s written in an easy, straightforward language that’s suitable for beginner students, and it’s also a fun and entertaining read with short and funny anecdotes that are well-known by both young and old in Turkish culture.
This list isn’t really supposed to include Turkish books that double as language-learning textbooks, but this is an exception. Turkish was specifically created for learners, and it’s also designed to be entertaining. This self-study primer by Ali Akpınar is great for beginners looking for self-study via hands-on exercises and grammar explanations in an enjoyable format. You can work your way through short articles on different topics methodically thanks to helpful vocab primers before each section.
Keloğlan Masalları (Intermediate)
This book is for more intermediate learners who could still benefit from the simple language of a children’s book. Tahir Alangu’s Keloğlan Masalları offers another entertaining look at the folktales dear to Turkish (specifically Anatolian) culture, as well as the values they reflect. This book features a collection of folktales about a fictional character named Keloğlan (“bald boy”). He is small, brave, poor, generous — an Anatolian hero overcoming the odds with only his wits.
İnce Memed 1 (Intermediate)
İnce Memed 1 is by Yaşar Kemal, a Kurdish author who is among the most important writers in Turkey. Through well-crafted (yet simple) use of the Turkish language, this intermediate-level read describes the cultural, social and political landscapes of Turkey, as well as the physical landscapes in southern Anatolia. In the process of strengthening your language skills, you’ll also learn something important about the social injustice, gender issues, rebellions and legends that have shaped Turkish culture.
Benim Adım Kırmızı (Intermediate-Advanced)
For intermediate to advanced learners, Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk brings us Benim Adım Kırmızı, a postmodern novel about a murder that occurred in the 16th century Istanbul of the Ottoman Empire. Each chapter in this Turkish book is narrated by a different character from the book — including the one that has been murdered. Along the way, we learn something important about the artistic differences between the East and West, love, religious conflict, and conspiracy.