100 books like Cleopatra and Egypt

By Sally-Ann Ashton,

Here are 100 books that Cleopatra and Egypt fans have personally recommended if you like Cleopatra and Egypt. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Reign of Cleopatra

Prudence J. Jones Author Of Cleopatra: A Sourcebook

From my list on Cleopatra for non-academics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Cleopatra ever since I learned that she used science to outwit one of Rome's most powerful men by inventing the world's most expensive cocktail (a pearl disintegrated in vinegar). As a professor of Classics at Montclair State University, I have the opportunity to study ancient historical and literary texts about Cleopatra, as well as monuments, inscriptions, and papyri. I use these primary sources in teaching an advanced ancient history course on Cleopatra to undergraduate students.

Prudence's book list on Cleopatra for non-academics

Prudence J. Jones Why did Prudence love this book?

Burstein's The Reign of Cleopatra is an accessible introduction to Cleopatra's life and the context in which she lived.

Biography and historical background combine with an exploration of the politics of Ptolemaic Egypt, scholarship and the arts at Alexandria, and the multicultural Hellenistic world. Primary sources, both artifacts, and documents, bring the story to life.

A glossary defines relevant terminology and an annotated bibliography provides guidance for further study. 

By Stanley M. Burstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reign of Cleopatra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ambitious, intelligent, and desired by men and emperors, Cleopatra VII came to power at a time when Roman and Egyptian interests increasingly tended to concern the same object: the Egyptian Empire itself. Cleopatra lived her whole life at the center of this complex and persistent power struggle, and her death simultaneously heralded the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty, the loss of Egyptian political independence, and the beginning of Caesar Augustus's Roman rule in Egypt. Cleopatra's legacy has since lost much of its former political significance, as she has come to symbolize instead the potent force of female sexuality and power.…


Book cover of Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth

Prudence J. Jones Author Of Cleopatra: A Sourcebook

From my list on Cleopatra for non-academics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Cleopatra ever since I learned that she used science to outwit one of Rome's most powerful men by inventing the world's most expensive cocktail (a pearl disintegrated in vinegar). As a professor of Classics at Montclair State University, I have the opportunity to study ancient historical and literary texts about Cleopatra, as well as monuments, inscriptions, and papyri. I use these primary sources in teaching an advanced ancient history course on Cleopatra to undergraduate students.

Prudence's book list on Cleopatra for non-academics

Prudence J. Jones Why did Prudence love this book?

Chauveau's Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth is a concise account of Cleopatra's life based closely on the Greek and Latin historiographical texts that tell her story.

This book is a perfect way to experience the original accounts of Cleopatra that led to her transformation into, e.g., Shakespeare's Cleopatra. Chauveau offers a peek behind the curtain at the origins of mythmaking about Cleopatra.

By Michel Chauveau, David Lorton (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cleopatra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cleopatra: kohl and vipers, barges and thrones, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. We have long been schooled in the myth of the Egyptian ruler. In his new book Michel Chauveau brings us a picture of her firmly based in reality. Cleopatra VII reigned in Egypt between 51 and 30 B.C.E. Her primary goal as a ruler was to restore over the eastern Mediterranean the supremacy of the Lagides, the dynasty of Macedonian origin of which she herself was a descendant. We know the queen best from Greek and Latin sources, though these must be used with caution because of their…


Book cover of Cleopatra and Rome

Prudence J. Jones Author Of Cleopatra: A Sourcebook

From my list on Cleopatra for non-academics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Cleopatra ever since I learned that she used science to outwit one of Rome's most powerful men by inventing the world's most expensive cocktail (a pearl disintegrated in vinegar). As a professor of Classics at Montclair State University, I have the opportunity to study ancient historical and literary texts about Cleopatra, as well as monuments, inscriptions, and papyri. I use these primary sources in teaching an advanced ancient history course on Cleopatra to undergraduate students.

Prudence's book list on Cleopatra for non-academics

Prudence J. Jones Why did Prudence love this book?

Kleiner's Cleopatra and Rome is an essential Cleopatra book for art lovers.

It combines Cleopatra's story with an excellent introduction to the art history of the ancient Mediterranean world. One of the most interesting aspects of Kleiner's work is the effect she describes Cleopatra having on her Roman conqueror.

Although Augustus presented Cleopatra as a dangerous enemy of Rome, the iconography he used to present his family as a kind of "first family" for Rome borrowed from the visual language Cleopatra created to communicate with her Egyptian subjects.

By Diana E. E. Kleiner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cleopatra and Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the full panorama of her life forever lost, Cleopatra touches us in a series of sensational images: floating through a perfumed mist down the Nile; dressed as Venus for a tryst at Tarsus; unfurled from a roll of linens before Caesar; couchant, the deadly asp clasped to her breast. Through such images, each immortalizing the Egyptian queen's encounters with legendary Romans--Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Octavian Augustus--we might also chart her rendezvous with the destiny of Rome. So Diana Kleiner shows us in this provocative book, which opens an entirely new perspective on one of the most intriguing women…


Book cover of The Reception of Cleopatra in the Age of Mass Media

Prudence J. Jones Author Of Cleopatra: A Sourcebook

From my list on Cleopatra for non-academics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Cleopatra ever since I learned that she used science to outwit one of Rome's most powerful men by inventing the world's most expensive cocktail (a pearl disintegrated in vinegar). As a professor of Classics at Montclair State University, I have the opportunity to study ancient historical and literary texts about Cleopatra, as well as monuments, inscriptions, and papyri. I use these primary sources in teaching an advanced ancient history course on Cleopatra to undergraduate students.

Prudence's book list on Cleopatra for non-academics

Prudence J. Jones Why did Prudence love this book?

There are many books about the reception of Cleopatra in high art like Shakespearean drama and Renaissance painting, but Daugherty's The Reception of Cleopatra in the Age of Mass Media is a delightful exploration of Cleopatra in popular creations such as video games, graphic novels, and television.

The incredible variety of material and engaging writing style makes this book a perfect introduction to reception studies and a must-read for pop culture aficionados.

By Gregory N. Daugherty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reception of Cleopatra in the Age of Mass Media as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This study examines the reception of Cleopatra from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day as it has been reflected in popular culture in the United States of America. Daugherty provides a broad overview of the influence of the Egyptian queen by looking at her presence in film, novels, comics, cartoons, TV shows, music, advertising and toys. The aim of the book is to show the different ways in which the figure of Cleopatra was able to reach a large and non-elite audience.

Furthermore, Daugherty makes a study of the reception of Cleopatra during her own lifetime.…


Book cover of Cleopatra: A Life

Dana Cameron Author Of Exit Interview

From my list on badass women in history and fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first career in archaeology fed my love of history and cultures, giving me insight into human motivations. As a writer, I also love a good action scene, and I began taking mixed martial arts when I was writing the Emma Fielding archaeology mysteries and then the “Fangborn” urban fantasy novels. I soon realized I wanted to write a thriller with female characters who were badass—tough and smart—women I’d want to have at my back in a fight. I found them when I wrote Exit Interview. I love a book where a woman takes charge to change things, whether it's in her community or more globally.

Dana's book list on badass women in history and fiction

Dana Cameron Why did Dana love this book?

This next one is a bit of a curve ball, but it also reflects my interest in strong women in history and fiction—as well as my love of history and archaeology. Cleopatra: A Life, takes a historical figure who was nearly mythological, and roots her firmly within a cultural and historical context. Gone is the wily temptress of fiction and antiquity; Stacy Schiff's subject is a queen, a military strategist, an ingenious diplomat, and a polymath. She waged (and survived) civil war and foreign invasions, and reshaped the ancient world. The book reads like a novel, but never skimps on the historical and archaeological data--even the footnotes are compelling. Who wouldn't want this woman as backup?

By Stacy Schiff,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Cleopatra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as…


Book cover of When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt

Susan Broomhall Author Of The Identities of Catherine de’ Medici

From my list on women and power in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm Professor and Director of the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre at the Australian Catholic University. I've always been interested in the power of ideologies about gender to shape people’s lives, and in the experiences of women in times past. I started off exploring these topics in early modern Europe and then looked at how women, and ideas about gender, shaped the ways European peoples engaged in the world at this period. This has helped me to see the very significant ways that the lives of women and men are always shaped by gender ideologies across the globe and across time, and the innovative ways that people respond to the challenges and opportunities that they encounter.

Susan's book list on women and power in history

Susan Broomhall Why did Susan love this book?

This is a very accessible introduction to six of the most powerful women of Egypt, women whose actions took place around, and sometimes as, pharaohs. Little-known queens, Merneith, Tawosret, and Neferusobek are considered alongside Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra. This approach helps Cooney to weave together a compelling story about female lives and expectations for women in ancient Egypt, and how this shaped these individuals’ access, use, and justifications for wielding power, some of which sound very familiar to discussions about women who hold power in our own time.

The evidence is necessarily patchy and the arguments sometimes speculative, as Cooney brings in much recent research and includes extensive footnotes that are well worth reading to understand the various debates that are underway in the field right now.

By Kara Cooney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Women Ruled the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This riveting narrative explores the lives of six remarkable female pharaohs, from Hatshepsut to Cleopatra--women who ruled with real power--and shines a piercing light on our own perceptions of women in power today.

Female rulers are a rare phenomenon--but thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, women reigned supreme. Regularly, repeatedly, and with impunity, queens like Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra controlled the totalitarian state as power-brokers and rulers. But throughout human history, women in positions of power were more often used as political pawns in a male-dominated society. What was so special about ancient Egypt that provided women this kind…


Book cover of The Heretic Queen

Caitlin Sumner Author Of Alexander's Lost General

From my list on historical fiction you can't put down.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was in 6th grade, and homeschooling, I discovered Ancient Egypt. That year I had some health problems, which ended up essentially cancelling school for that year, and I was allowed to do whatever I wanted. I spent the entire year studying Egypt. My passion for history spiralled from there, and I've spent the interveaning years studying periods of history from Ancient Egypt to the Italian Rennaisance. I always wanted to be a writer and discovering that Historical Fiction as a genre was eye-opening for me. Since then I hardly read anything else (except fantasy) and all my personal works are Historical Fiction. 

Caitlin's book list on historical fiction you can't put down

Caitlin Sumner Why did Caitlin love this book?

The first time I read this book I couldn't put it down. I read it in a single day. Every time I've read it since it's been the same. I'm just sucked into the voice and the story and I never want it to end. I've loved Egypt almost all my life and The Heretic Queen is one of the best Egyptian Historical Fiction novels I have ever read. To me, storytelling is about the journey, about the change in the voice as the character ages, about overcoming the hardships of life, and hoping for the future when the story ends. This book covers all of those and more.

By Michelle Moran,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Heretic Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family's past, and remake history. The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the 18th dynasty's royal family - all with the exception of Nefertari, niece of the reviled former queen Nefertiti. The girl's deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But all of this changes when she is taken under the wing of pharaoh's aunt,…


Book cover of The Memoirs of Cleopatra

Stephanie Dray Author Of Becoming Madam Secretary

From my list on historical fiction women who changed the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

My graduating class in high school once designated me as “the most likely to start a feminist revolution.” That was a lot to live up to, but I’ve made a very small stab at it by writing about women who have changed our world. I love to bring awareness about the contributions great women have made in history, but I also want modern women to see themselves in these struggles. I always say that Historical Fiction is an exercise of empathy, and I hope my work encourages women today to get involved and make a difference in the world, too.

Stephanie's book list on historical fiction women who changed the world

Stephanie Dray Why did Stephanie love this book?

In many ways, this book started my writing career. I picked up this novel in an airport on the way to our honeymoon destination and found myself so inspired by Margaret George’s wonderfully emotive writing that I dreamed of writing a book.

I was also inspired by the tragic ancient queen whose war with Rome changed the course of Western civilization. Love her or hate her, Cleopatra is the most famous woman in history, and this novel beautifully illustrates her bravery, intelligence, and romantic heart.

It’s dramatic, well-researched, and a big, beautiful saga that you can sink into.

By Margaret George,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Memoirs of Cleopatra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mesmerizing story of Queen Cleopatra in her own words - by bestselling novelist Margaret George, author of The Autobiography of Henry VIII and Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles.

Told in the first person - from the young queen's earliest memories of her father's tenuous rule to her own reign over one of the most glittering kingdoms in the world - this is an enthralling saga of ambition and power.

It is also a tale of passion that begins when the twenty-one-year-old Cleopatra, desperate to return from exile, seeks out the one man who can help her: Julius…


Book cover of The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt

Nicole Sallak Anderson Author Of Origins: Song of the King's Heart

From my list on ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since 7th grade, I’ve been reading and researching about ancient civilizations like Greece, the Mayans, Incans, and of course, Egypt, yet I never thought I’d write a book, much less a trilogy set thousands of years ago. While researching rebellions for another novel, I found the Great Egyptian Revolt of 200 BCE, as well as Ankhmakis’s story. Given my lifelong love of ancient mythologies, I spent the next two years collecting books about ancient Egypt. These books are but a small sampling I collected during that time in my life, and I’m so glad to share them with you.

Nicole's book list on ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic dynasty

Nicole Sallak Anderson Why did Nicole love this book?

While I didn’t find nearly enough about the Great Egyptian Revolt of 200 BCE or Ankhmakis’s plight in this book, it was an excellent resource for creating the day-to-day life of ancient Egypt.

From house building to boat designs to farming on the river, as well as the rise and fall of the various dynasties and their idiosyncrasies, Wilkinson’s book is a must read for any Egyptophile such as myself. Without it, I don’t think I would have been able to have envisioned Ankhmakis’s world the way I have.

By Toby Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a story studded with extraordinary achievements and historic moments, from the building of the pyramids and the conquest of Nubia, through Akhenaten's religious revolution, the power and beauty of Nefertiti, the glory of Tutankhamun's burial chamber, and the ruthlessness of Ramesses, to Alexander the Great's invasion, and Cleopatra's fatal entanglement with Rome.

As the world's first nation-state, the history of Ancient Egypt is above all the story of the attempt to unite a disparate realm and defend it against hostile forces from within and without. Combining grand narrative sweep with detailed knowledge of hieroglyphs and the iconography of…


Book cover of Return to Thebes

Nicole Sallak Anderson Author Of Origins: Song of the King's Heart

From my list on ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since 7th grade, I’ve been reading and researching about ancient civilizations like Greece, the Mayans, Incans, and of course, Egypt, yet I never thought I’d write a book, much less a trilogy set thousands of years ago. While researching rebellions for another novel, I found the Great Egyptian Revolt of 200 BCE, as well as Ankhmakis’s story. Given my lifelong love of ancient mythologies, I spent the next two years collecting books about ancient Egypt. These books are but a small sampling I collected during that time in my life, and I’m so glad to share them with you.

Nicole's book list on ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic dynasty

Nicole Sallak Anderson Why did Nicole love this book?

If you read A God Against the Gods, you have to read Return to Thebes.

For my part, the descriptions of Luxor and Thebes were key to writing my book, but I also needed to know how this dynasty ended. Besides, finally King Tut has his say.

Moreover, I loved the introduction of Seti and his son, for the dynasty they created after Tut’s fall is one that still captures the imagination of Egyptologists and fans alike.

By Allen Drury,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Return to Thebes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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