I know it’s uncommon to pack a book for vacation in this digital day and age, let alone three. But whether you read them on your tablet or make room for the paperbacks, read them before your trip begins or during it, I think that these three are essential to read on your Egypt trip.
What to Read on Your Egypt Trip
Lonely Planet Egypt Guidebook
We knew that planning a self-guided itinerary to Egypt meant one thing: getting a good guidebook. Updated in 2017, The Lonely Planet guidebook is the most recent edition of any Egypt guidebook I could find. If you’re planning on traveling Egypt independently, I 100% recommend it. It offers detailed breakdowns of all the major historical sites, often with diagrams and maps to help orient you. We loved the guide to the Valley of the Kings, which gave comprehensive recommendations about which tombs to visit. (You’re only allowed entrance to three, so choose wisely!) And having a culture guide always on hand was reassuring in a place decidedly different from any other I’d been to. It’s worth it’s weight: get it in hard copy form so you feel comfortable whipping it out regardless of where you are.
Death on the Nile
Despite being an avid reader, I’ve somehow missed the Agatha Christie canon. This classic is the perfect vacation read: a murder mystery that takes place in 1930’s Egypt. I devoured it by the pool, watching the Nile surge past and the same steamers—including the one used in the film adaptation—chug through the brackish water. Although Egypt hasn’t changed too much, in Christie’s time, Abu Simbel was at its original location. Death on the Nile is a fun, easy read for any time. But reading it in Egypt gave the story that much more context—and opened a lot of conversations around the pool.
Tales of Ancient Egypt
Speaking of context, this was a surprise addition to our reading list. We stumbled across it on a weekend jaunt to New York before our trip and it felt like kismet. The tales are all quite short, maybe 5-6 pages, and record some of the most common stories of ancient Egypt. Reading the old myths about the gods, pharaohs, and Nile added a whole new layer to our trip. This was especially true when we got to Luxor and started really exploring the remains of this ancient civilization. I liked the story about Nefertiti. After exploring Abu Simbel, visiting her tomb, and reading about her relationship to her pharaoh husband, I felt almost like I knew her.