Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | February 12, 2010

books at molly’s cafe

when i first came to turkey many years ago, i brought a few books with me, but soon finished them.  then i was starving for something to read.  i was living way out in the suburbs and there were no bookstores there, let alone any that would carry books in english.  whenever anyone came from north america, i asked them to bring books.  one time some friends of friends brought me some reader’s digests and i was hungry enough for something to read that i even read them.

one book that i read when i first got here was orhan pamuk’s a new life.  i had started it in the u.s. but it meant more to me by the time i read it, as i had by then taken a bus trip to a city near istanbul.  a new life takes large part on busses.

for some years i asked visitors to bring me books (among other things).  i would read almost anything, though i preferred short stories and more quality writing.  one time a lesbian couple that i did not know very well brought me a book of female erotica!  otherwise, i was very happy with the books that people brought me.

there is a well-known book exchange here, but it is only open 2 hours a day, from 5 to 7.  my schedule usually did not allow me to get there, though i did manage to get there a couple of times.  the room is lined with bookcases full of books of varying quality.

new books tend to be expensive here and even the books at the secondhand shops tend to be more than what i for one had expected.  people i know tend to pass books around.  also, when people move, often they bring the books they don’t want to the cafe.

a customer who was coming here for a few weeks was collecting books for a jewish library.  along the way he came acrosso ther books and brought those in.  they tended to be classics (jane eyre, etc) and some mysteries, but they were all welcome.

these days i have a wall of bookshelves in the cafe.  i have read almost all of them, except for the ones in turkish and other languages. there is a shelf of fantasy books that was here when i moved the cafe here;  i have read a few, but they got kind of boring.

at the old cafe i had very limited shelf space for books and had a pretty good book sale.  although this cafe has probably triple the space, there  still not enough room for all the books– unless i get a ladder for the very top shelves.  so, now i have a continuous book sale and exchange.  so far, several people have brought books and fewer have bought or exchanged them.  however, already i have a few new to me books to read before i am relegated to reading the rest of the fantasy books.

the kinds of books here include a wide range: mysteries, fiction, short stories, fantasy and science fiction, poetry, travel, history.  one shelf is only about turkey and those books i don’t sell.  i also have a shelf of teaching books, which are also not for sale.  another shelf holds big books, mostly about istanbul or turkey.  those also are only to look at. so, whether someone is browsing or ready to get deep into some books, this is one of the places to stop by.

if you are reading this in istanbul, do stop by to peruse the offerings of books at molly’s cafe!  if you are coming to istanbul, bring some books!


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