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Books to Read Before Visiting Egypt

Whenever I travel somewhere, I always love to read books set in the places I am visiting. Creating my reading list was one of my favourite parts of the planning process for my trip to Egypt. These are just some of my recommendations for books to read before visiting Egypt.

Books I Read:

Cover of Death on the Nile, the first book on my Egypt reading list.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christia

This is a book that most people will have heard of, and of course it was the number one book on my Egypt reading list. Where else could I read it, but on the Nile itself? The cruise in her book goes south towards Aswan and Abu Simbel and so it was extra fun to read about the places I had visited before starting my cruise. Agatha Christia also has another book, Death Comes as the End, which uses Ancient Egypt as the setting. It was also on my list but I didn’t get around to it.

Cover of The Heretic Queen

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

This is one of several books set in Ancient Egypt by Michelle Moran. I’d already read two of them (Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter) so thought it was the perfect time to read this one. I would recommend reading Nefertiti first as this follows on from it, but you can still enjoy it as a stand-alone. This focuses on Nefertari, wife of Ramesses II and so made a great read before visiting Abu Simbel. The book talks about the two temples being built, along with some of the events that are commemorated in the carvings.

Cover of 24 Hours in Ancient Egypt

24 Hours in Ancient Egypt by Donald P. Ryan

This book is part of a series featuring various different cultures. I’d already read 24 Hours in Ancient China and the format is very light and easy to read so is a great book to pick up whenever you only have a small amount of time. It focuses on the various different professions people had, and includes details about everyday life. It is split into 24 hours, with 24 different characters whose lives you briefly follow over the course of an hour. It’s not an academic of books so doesn’t go into lots of detail, but it’s a fun read. I finished it after I got back, and it was fun to read about the Unfinished Obelisk at Aswan after visiting it myself in person.

Cover of the haunting of tram car 015, one of my favourite books from my Egypt reading list

The Dead Djinn Universe by P. Djèlí Clark

This isn’t one singular book, but rather a collection of three stories. A short story, a novella, and a novel all set in the same alternative-universe of Cairo. The short story can be read online for free and is a great introduction to the series . I read the final book in Cairo, just before leaving, and although it’s an alternative version of history I was still able to recognise several locations.

Books I didn’t get to:

It’s always better to have too many books than too few, so here are some of the books on my Egypt reading list that I didn’t get a chance to read. These are all by Egyptian authors, as I always try to read a book by an author from the country I’m visiting. I plan on eventually reading at least one of these as part of my Read Around the World Challenge.

Cover for slipping

Slipping by Mohamed Kheir

This is a magical realism book set after the Arab Spring. I found it while looking for speculative fiction novels by Egyptian authors, and fell in love with the cover.

Cover for the quarter

The Quarter by Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz is a famous Egyptian author and has written many books. I chose this one for my list because collections of short stories are always a great introduction to an author.

Cover for the republic of false truths

The Republic of False Truths by Alaa Al Aswany

This is another book using the Arab Spring as the setting. This book had actually been on my to-read list long before I planned my trip to Egypt. I chose it to represent Egypt in my goal of reading a book from every country in the world. I’ve still not read it, so I’ll need to hurry up so I can tick off Egypt!

Can you think of any other books to read before visiting Egypt? Let me know!

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