The Ultimate List of Books to Read Before Your Trip to Egypt

What’s the first thing you do when you start thinking about a new destination? For me, it’s look up books! Whether it’s set there or about its history, I want to read anything I can about the place I’m inspired to visit. Or, sometimes, I get inspired to visit a place because of a book I read!

While I’ve always been fascinated by Egypt—ancient and present—I was always too overwhelmed to start “researching” this place I wanted to visit since I was a little girl in Sunday school. I mean, it’s 5,000 years of history, pharaohs, pyramids, mythological creatures, and the most famous river in the world—one that runs from south to north of all things!

So, in my efforts to visit Egypt without being in such obvious and complete ignorance, I started reading. Here are the books I read, starting with the basics.

Everything Ancient Egypt, Crispin Boyer (Children’s Book)

Okay, hear me out! There is so much to learn about ancient Egypt, and unless you’re ready to make it your job to learn 3,000 years of history and become an Egyptologist, you are probably like me and need some bite-sized basics! This is a great place to start, and while it is definitely basic, it’s also full of useful information!

(Coming soon) More here: The Ultimate List of Foods You Must Try in Egypt

1,000 Facts about Ancient Egypt, Nancy Honovich (Children’s Book)

Created by National Geographic like the one above, this one is also a great addition to your Egyptian history starter kit. It’s a bit of a meatier read (1,000 facts is a lot!), but still bite-sized and manageable if you’re still confused on how many Cleopatras there were!

See also: How to Right-size Your Expectations of Travel in Egypt

Walking the Bible, Bruce Feiler

If you’re a Christian, Muslim, or Jew, this book will be an enlightening read! All three religions share the same God and the same first five books of the Bible (and first five books of the Torah and part of the Quran).

The book takes readers through several key locations where Biblical accounts took place, including the parting of the Red Sea, the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai, and more, all across the Middle East, not just Egypt.

And check out the children’s edition as well, if you’re looking for more bite-sized pieces (I actually prefer this edition myself!).

Read on: The Ultimate List of Things You Can’t Do in Egypt

Egypt and Bible History, Charles F. Aling

This is a quick read because it’s short book! Some of the content is a little bit in the weeds, but overall, it’s one of the best resources for Bible history in Egypt. Aling writes about the timing of the plagues, the Exodus, who was Pharaoh at the time, historical and archaeological details about how the Israelites came to be in Egypt to begin with, and much, much more.

More here: Why You Should Go to Egypt with Egypt Elite

Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie

I love a good mystery set in an exotic locale! This is one of my favorite Agatha Christie novels, and as you may have heard, it’s been made into a movie multiple times, most recently in 2022! (The book is better than the movie, as you may imagine.)

Set in 1930s Aswan and the Nile, and partially taking place at the still-standing Old Cataract Hotel, if you’ll be visiting Egypt and particularly Aswan and surrounds, this will be a fun read for you.

Read on: What to Know Before You Visit Egypt

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, Toby Wilkinson

This one is the heavy-hitter on this list, friends. If you’re looking for all the gritty details, maps, photos, and more, this is the tome for you! It’s kind of a monster at over 650 pages, but it’s an interesting read for anyone who wants to know everything they can about ancient Egypt.

(Coming soon) Keep reading: Top 7 Reasons Why Reasons Every Traveler Should Visit Egypt

Liberation Square, Ashraf Kahlil

The Arab Spring in 2011 took just about everyone by surprise. I remember hearing about it when it happened, but the reporting on it by the media was so skewed, I really had no idea what it accomplished or why it happened. This book shed a lot of light on present-day Egypt as a whole, but also on such an important event in Egypt’s history.

Reminder: Why Egypt is a Safe Place to Visit (even for women!)

Writing of the Gods, Edward Dolnick

I actually just recently picked this one up from the library! This book, written by a journalist, is about the race to translate hieroglyphics so that modern day people can read the language of ancient Egypt. He who deciphered the Rosetta Stone, found in Rosetta, Egypt, in 1799, would unlock some of the most fascinating mysteries of the ancient world.

(Coming soon) Read next: What to Know Before You Visit Cairo

Death Comes as the End, Agatha Christie

Here’s another mystery to round out this list! But it’s not just any mystery set in Egypt, it’s set in ancient Egypt! As with other Christie novels, the body count goes up rather quickly, and the killer is someone you probably didn’t expect (Christie plays dirty—she withhold information as she sees fit!).

Once you’ve read some of the others on this list, you’ll get more out of this book than you would have without prior knowledge of ancient Egypt. You may even want to bring this one along on the flight to Egypt for your trip!

(Coming soon) Read next: The Ultimate List of Facts You Never Knew about Ancient Egypt

Need more? Check out my dedicated Egypt Page for everything you need to plan your trip!

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Published by quickwhittravel

Welcome to the blog! We do things a little differently around here: no ads, no negativity, and no checked luggage, y'all. My name is Whitney, and Quick Whit Travel Blog is your one-stop shop for all the best travel tips, packing advice, and destination information. Click around or message me on social media @quickwhittravel for more!

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