Egyptian travel books

An Egyptian travel library

Egypt has inspired the writing of of travelers for centuries. Even in English, Egyptian travel writing goes back at least to the 19th century.

Besides the books recommended below, anyone looking to dive into Egyptian history, culture, art, or fiction should check the website for the American University in Cairo Press. They have published has a whole series of guidebooks and other material related to Egypt. There’s lots of good stuff there. However, many of these have not been updated recently, are not available to US customers, and/or are no longer in print and thus only available from third-party booksellers. I’ve tried to highlight specific relevant publications (and where to buy them) below, but this is a great resource for specialized material, Egyptian fiction in English, and scholarly publications even if you need to buy them somewhere else.

General guidebooks on Egypt

There are a wide variety of guidebooks available on Egypt. What sort of guidebook you need will depend in part on how you are traveling. Since I generally travel with a guide, I’m more interested in books that provide information on what I’m seeing and its context than in one that covers the details of a traveler’s daily needs while planning a trip or actually in Egypt.

Eyewitness Egypt book cover with palm trees and Nile DK Eyewitness Travel: Egypt (2016) I’m very visual, so the Eyewitness guides are a favorite planning tool to decide what I want to see. These also make great “souvenir” books because they are so lavishly illustrated. Like all the books in this series, the Egypt guide has good background and historic information and lots of information on the sights to see in Egypt, including tons of photographs, diagrams, and illustrations.

The entire series is week on lodging and dining information, as well as “how-to” guidance. So it’s a great resource for deciding what you want to see, understanding what you are seeing, and remembering it after. No so great for finding a nearby bakery or café.

Buy it at Better World Books, Bookshop.org, or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

 

Knopf Egypt guide coverKnopf Guide: Egypt (2007)  Now long out-of-print, I still recommend the Knopf Guide I bought for my first trip to Egypt. This is a gorgeous book filled with historical drawings, commentary, and information. It’s more a guide to tourism in Egypt more than a guide to Egypt, which is actually cool. As you page through it you see not only how Egypt has changed over time, but also how views of Egypt and Egyptian history have changed, giving you a sense of your place on the long continuum of Egyptian tourism. It was never particularly useful for practical trip planning, but it’s still a great reference if you want to dive deeper into Egyptian history and culture.

Buy it at AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

 

Cairo

The Living Stones of Cairo by Jaroslaw Dobrowolski (Sketches and stories of Cairo’s medieval architecture) is  equal parts art art book and guidebook. It explores historic Cairo told through more than 50 illustrations and stories featuring the city’s medieval architecture. A map in the front makes it easy to see where these sites are located.

Buy it at Better World Books, Books-a-Million, Bookshop.org, or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

cover of Islamic Cairo pocket guide Egypt Pocket Guide: Islamic Cairo by Alberto Siliotti is part of a series of guides published by the American University in Cairo Press. This heavily illustrated lightweight book is suitable for tossing in your bag to guide you through Cairo’s Islamic history, with detailed in formation on many of the area’s highlights.

Buy it at Better World Books, Books-a-Million, Bookshop.org, or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

Historic Cairo: A Walk Through the Islamic City by Jim Antoniou might be what you would get if The Living Stones of Cairo and the Islamic Cairo pocket guide had a child. The book lays out a walking tour of Islamic Cairo with detailed directions, history, and notes — all illustrated with hand-drawn sketches. At 8″x8″ it’s a little big to use out on the street, but it’s a lightweight paperback and would be fun to check with while sitting at a coffee shop in this historic area. I’ll be using this to plan a full day exploring this part of the city for my next trip, even if the book itself stays in my hotel room or back at home.

Buy it at Bookshop.org or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

Ancient Egypt

Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs by Robert Morkot

 

Egypt Pocket Guide: The Pyramids by Alberto Siliotti is part of a series of guides published by the American University in Cairo Press. I have not used this guide myself, but if it is anything like the other guides in this series, it’s the perfect lightweight companion for a visit to the pyramids of Giza.

Buy it at Better World Books, Books-a-Million, or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

cover of Valley of the Kings pocket guide Egypt Pocket Guide: Valley of the Kings and the Theban Tombs by Alberto Siliotti is part of a series of guides published by the American University in Cairo Press. Heavily illustrated, this lightweight guide is enough to guide you through the highlights of not only the Valley of the Kings, but also the Valley of the Queens, the Valley of the Nobles, and Deir Al-Medina (tombs of the Village of the Workers).

Buy it at Better World Books or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

The Legacy of Tutankhamun: Art and History by Mey Zaky is one of many, many books on King Tut. I like this one because it’s a nicely printed paperback with page-size images of individual examples of the many treasures in the King’s tomb along with a page of information on each one. There’s so much to see in the Egyptian Museum (and photos aren’t allowed in the jewelry room) that I just can’t take it all in, let alone clearly remember all of it. This lets me enjoy it again and provides much more information than the museum does.

I have the 2010 edition, which seems to be utterly unavailable in the USA. There is a 2008 edition available, but I can’t vouch for the quality, as I’ve never seen it.

Watch for it when you are in Egypt (and buy it while you are there!) or buy the 2008 edition at AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

Abu Simbel pocket guide coverEgypt Pocket Guide: Abu Simbel and the Nubian Temples by Alberto Siliotti is part of a series of guides published by the American University in Cairo Press. I do not have this book, but if it is anything like the others I have, it is a great introduction not only to Abu Simbel, but other sites in Nubian Egypt.

Buy it at Better World Books, Books-a-Million, Bookshop.org, or AbeBooks (an Amazon company) 

 

Christian Egypt

Christians of the Nile book cover Coptic Egypt: The Christians of the Nile by Christian Cannuyer provides a lovely, easy to follow overview of Coptic Christianity in Egypt.

 

Buy it at Better World Books or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

 

Egypt Pocket Guide: Coptic Egypt by Alberto Siliotti is one in a series of guides published by the American University in Cairo Press. Heavily illustrated, this small guide provides an introduction to Egypt’s Coptic Christianity and covers a few of the churches of Coptic Cairo, all four Wadi Al-Natrun monasteries, and the Red Sea monasteries of Saint Paul and Saint Anthony. It doesn’t cover the cave churches of Mokkatam Mountain or Saint Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula.

Buy it at Better World Books, Bookshop.org, or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

 

Biography

Gayer-Anderson: The Life and Afterlife of the Irish Pasha by Louise Foxcroft (Biography of the man behind Cairo’s Gayer-Anderson Museum)

Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson Pasha was both a larger-than-life character in Egypt and a great collector of antiques and antiquities in the first part of the 20th century. Much of his collection became Cairo’s Gayer-Anderson Museum. This biography is based on his journals and traces his larger-than-life exploits and and passions. I suspect it provides a fascinating look at Egypt during this important period. However, what I already know about Gayer-Anderson creeps me out. Thus, I haven’t actually read more than excerpts from this book.

Buy it at Bookshop.org or AbeBooks (Amazon)

 

Egyptian fiction

 

Agatha Christie Death on the Nile

 

The Cairo Trilogy

 

construction barriers and cones

 

Buy it at Better World Books, Books-a-Million, Bookshop.org, or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

Buy it at Better World Books, Books-a-Million, Bookshop.org, or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)

Buy it at Better World Books, Books-a-Million, Bookshop.org, or AbeBooks (an Amazon company)