The Turkish movie and TV star shares her half-a-dozen favourite reads.
Desert Island Books: Filiz Ahmet
It's a lovely irony that Filiz Ahmet, the lead in the historical television series Muhtesem Yüzyil (The Magnificent Century), is a by-product of the Ottoman campaigns into Europe. An ethnic Turk from Macedonia, she is a star on both sides of the Bosphorus - in her native hometown, Skopje, and in Istanbul. Ahmet, 30, made her stage debut at the age of 6 alongside her grandfather, the theatrical legend Lütfü Seyfullah, at the Skopje National Turkish Theatre. She attended the Skopje Academy of Fine Arts Theatre Company and in 2003 won the Best Young Actress award for her role in the play Küçürekkiz. However, her transition from stage to the small screen wasn't easy, as she would get panic attacks in front of the camera. "At the time, I just felt that once they started shooting it was never going to end," she says. "It took me about two months to get used to the camera, now I'm very comfortable with it." Her television career began when she starred in the Macedonian series Galina, the story of a family set during the Balkan war. She then moved on to Turkish TV in the series Elveda Rumeli. The creators of Muhtesem Yüzyil asked her to read the script for the pilot, and she liked it and accepted the part of Nigar Kalfa. The hit series, based on intrigues in the harem of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, airs around the globe from Uzbekistan to the US. It is on Dubai TV as Hareem Sultan. Ahmet tells Maryam Ismail about her Desert Island Books.
THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint Exupery
This classic was one of the first books I read as a child. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down until I finished it. At the time, I found the pictures so fascinating that I kept going back to look at them again and again. It's really just a little tale, but it taught me that there's a whole new world beyond my imagination, and it might just be better than anything I could have imagined. After many years, I've re-read it as an adult, and realised how much influence it has had on the direction I've taken in my life. This is most definitely a book that gets my heart fluttering with excitement even if I read just a few chapters.
A MEMENTO FOR ISTANBUL by Ahmet Ümit
This mystery starts in present-day Istanbul when a body is found with an ancient coin in its hand; solving the case means going all the way back to the Byzantine era. It's sort of a history of murders in Istanbul. In this book you learn not only how people lived in the city at different times throughout history, but also how laws have changed over time as well. While reading about murders, I learned a lot about Istanbul that I never knew - amazing!
THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This classic was one of the first books I read as a child. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down until I finished it. At the time, I found the pictures so fascinating that I kept going back to look at them again and again. It's taught me that there's a whole new world beyond my imagination, and it might just be better than anything I could have imagined. I've re-read it as an adult, and realised how much influence it has had on the direction I've taken in my life.
PUSLU KITALAR ATLASI by Ihsan Oktay Anar
This is one book that everyone must read at least once in their lifetime, especially because of its flawless narrative style and how it plays with history. It takes you back to Ottoman times and asks the reader, how would life have been different if people then had thought about things differently? What if they had been sceptics? As the story takes shape one can feel a sense of tranquility. This book tries to say a lot, but if I give too much away, it will take away from its magic. I advise all of those who haven't read it yet to do so the first chance they get.
THINK OF A NUMBER by John Verdon
This is the first of the Dave Gurney series and it's the best detective story I've read in years. It's about a psychopath who sends menacing messages, filled with riddles and numbers. Once I got it in my hands I didn't want to put it down. But I had to settle for reading it when I had time between shooting scenes of Muhtesem Yüzy¿l. It was really hard when it came my turn to shoot. As soon as I was done filming, I'd run back to my place just continue reading it. It was so real it made me wonder, could something like that really happen?
SERENAD by Zülfü Livaneli
Livaneli is my kind of writer. My family and I have been following his work over the years. As soon as this book was released, people rushed to get it and criticised it a lot. Nevertheless, to me the book is beautiful. It's a love story that begins at the start of the First World War and the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire. It follows a woman from her past to her present and it uses breathtaking language to tie every scene together seamlessly. Serenad makes you relive history; each event in it is so well researched and told in such exquisite detail. Reading it was like an education in itself.
EVRENDEN TORPILIM VAR by Aykut Ogut
I often read self-help books that my friends recommend to me. With Evrenden Torpilim Var, I found that it talked about so many things that happened to me in my own life. It teaches you that you can get over any obstacles that come your way. This is one book that you can't just read once and then put up on the shelf. For sure there will be times in your life when you have challenges and you will want to refer to it again and again.