Every once in a while a customer asks me where I’m planning to go for my own next trip. For a while now, the one I’ve been day dreaming about (but not quite booking) has been to Istanbul. I’m not really sure why I’m so transfixed by the place. I’m sure it’s a combination of loving novels by Pamuk, being bowled over by photos of the stunning Sakirin Mosque, or my high school exchange student friend from Gazientep. I’ve always been curious about Turkey, and with all the other places I’ve travelled since (Europe, Russia, Japan), it still seems like it would be a pretty foreign experience. And recently, after seeing Kedi at Metrograph, I have yet another reason to visit: scores of adorable street cats milling about!

gamsizThe movie was incredibly charming, not least of which because of the cute cats, but also for the interviews with the various humans throughout the city that care for them. They all have such interesting stories, but are united by this caring, empathetic center moved to care for animals that made the film so satisfying. Pictured above is Gamsiz, “the Player,” who has humans all over his neighborhood that offer him snacks and pillows for napping.

But I digress. In case you’re as curious about Turkey as I am, here are the book I’m looking forward to bringing with me whenever I manage to book a flight…

Lonely Planet Turkey. This one is fully updated, features a handy-dandy phrase book, map of Istanbul, and plenty of details not only on the city, but on potential day trips whether out to the ruins of Capodicia or down to the Mediterranean coast.

Secret Istanbul. In a city this ancient and influential, plenty of people and movements have left their mark around the city. These books are great, and I’m particularly curious to go find hidden spots of history, including Viking graffiti that can apparently be found steps away from the Grand Bazaar.

citix60 Istanbul. I love to recommend these guides for people going to any of the cities they cover, because the suggestions within — offered by local artists, chefs, musicians, and other movers and shakers — are sure to lead travelers to some cool, off-the-beaten path treasures.

Istanbul: The Collected Traveler. I wish there was a book like this for every destination! This beautiful volume features historical facts, personal essays, extracts of fiction and poetry, all from Turkish authors and scholars, or those who have visited and been enchanted.

The Flea Palace. I’ve definitely read plenty of Pamuk, but for a new angle on Turkey, Elif Shafak’s novel is a sort of Balzacian look at one old apartment building and all its wacky inhabitants, offering a truly quirky yet charming slice of life in Istanbul.