The most recommended books on ancient Egypt

Who picked these books? Meet our 84 experts.

84 authors created a book list connected to ancient Egypt, and here are their favorite ancient Egypt books.
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What type of ancient Egypt book?


Book cover of Curse Of The Pharaohs: My Adventures with Mummies

Chris Eboch Author Of The Eyes of Pharaoh

From my list on Ancient Egypt for middle school readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My family lived in an American camp in Saudi Arabia when I was young, and we traveled extensively. I’ve always loved ancient cultures, from our first international trip to Greece when I was six. The two months I spent in Mexico and Central America as a young adult inspired my first novel for young people, The Well of Sacrifice. But Egypt has long held a special place in my heart. The mummies and pyramids grab a child’s attention. The fact that these people were so different from us – and yet so similar in other ways – keeps that fascination going. Stories about ancient Egypt never get old!

Chris' book list on Ancient Egypt for middle school readers

Chris Eboch Why did Chris love this book?

This photo-filled book was written by an Egyptian archaeologist who was the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The book discusses ancient and modern ideas of mummy curses. While Dr. Hawass sometimes feels the tug of ancient magic, he does a good job of refuting the idea of a curse. He shares many personal stories from his years as an archaeologist. His passion and enthusiasm for archaeology shine through.

The author also wrote Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, which has friendly, enthusiastic writing and nice photos in a large format.

By Zahi Hawass,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Curse Of The Pharaohs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

"Hardcover: 160 pages Publisher: National Geographic (May 1, 2004) ISBN: 079226665X Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 9.6 x 0.6 inches All Ages ""Why do [people] want to believe that the ancient Egyptians wish to reach out over thousands of years an"

Book cover of The Cat in Ancient Egypt

David Grimm Author Of Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs

From my list on for serious thinkers about cats and dogs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am, first and foremost, a lover of cats and dogs. I have been fascinated by these animals ever since I was a child. Where did they come from? Why are we so strongly bonded to them? What is the future of our relationship? These are questions I have asked myself for decades, and which I finally answer in Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs. I bring to this book not only my lifelong love of these animals, but a deep-thinker’s exploration of history, law, and science. 

David's book list on for serious thinkers about cats and dogs

David Grimm Why did David love this book?

This is a great coffee table book. Tons of lovely pictures and illustrations. A must for any cat lover who wants to get a better sense of the role—and place—of cats in Ancient Egypt. I still look at it from time to time because I enjoy the pictures so much. 

By Jaromir Malek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cat in Ancient Egypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A definitive and richly illustrated account of cats in Egyptian life, religion, and art
True aristocrat of domestic animals, the cat has a distinguished ancestry. Most modern cats are thought to be descended from the cats of ancient Egypt, so these beautiful and engaging creatures represent a living link between ancient Egyptian civilization and our own times.
Wild cats were probably domesticated at least as early as 2000 BC, but they were regularly represented in Egyptian tomb paintings only some 500 years later, in the New Kingdom. The cat became one of the most important and highly esteemed animals in…

Book cover of Storm Harvest

Caroline Newark Author Of The Making of a Tudor

From my list on historical fiction that don't disappoint in romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

My love of history began at the age of 9 with a book given to my older brother: Our Island Story. My history teacher at school introduced me to serious historical biography and studying for a Law degree taught me the value of accuracy. The chance discovery of a notebook detailing one strand of my mother's family tree led to my current project of writing about the imagined lives of my female ancestors beginning in 1299  with my 19 times-great-grandmother Marguerite of France and ending in 1942 with my mother. Twenty-one books mean a lot of history and a mountain of research. A very pleasant way to spend my retirement.

Caroline's book list on historical fiction that don't disappoint in romance

Caroline Newark Why did Caroline love this book?

I came across this book at a bring-and-buy sale in West Wales and it has become one of my firm favourites. It tells the story of Faye Ludlow whose husband is impatient for her to adapt to life in his family's ancient manor house. As the Second World War unfolds and nearby Dover comes under daily bombardment, Faye struggles to save not only her marriage but the family's finances threatened by her husband's increasingly grandiose schemes. Any sense of purpose she acquires from her war work as an ambulance driver is bolstered by an unlikely friendship with an enigmatic London banker. A story for any of us who have ever faced temptation.

By Patricia Wright,

Why should I read it?

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

The River of Eternity

By Bruce Balfour,

Book cover of The River of Eternity

Bruce Balfour

New book alert!

What is my book about?

1184 BCE. Ramesses III, who will become the last of the great pharaohs, is returning home from battle. He will one day assume the throne of the Egyptian empire, and the plots against him and his children have already started. Even a god can die.

Ray was raised with the teenage children of Ramesses as their friend, but his own mysterious past exposes him to threats inside and outside of the Egyptian court. When a prince is killed, Ray is framed for the murder and must run to protect Bull, the oldest son of Ramesses. So begins Ray’s dangerous journey from the snake pit of royal palace intrigue into a violent world of treachery and enemies that will take years to conquer if he can survive.

The River of Eternity

By Bruce Balfour,

What is this book about?

From the national bestselling author of The Forge of Mars and The Digital Dead, an Ancient Egyptian epic adventure thriller series, based on real events, for fans of Wilbur Smith, Steven Saylor, and Paul Doherty.

This is the first book of a series leading up to the event known as The Harem Conspiracy, the assassination of Pharaoh Ramesses III in New Kingdom Egypt (1184 BCE), which was led by members of his own family. Details were drawn from the first recorded judicial trial transcript ever recovered (Judicial Papyrus of Turin plus other fragments of the original papyrus).

Book cover of The Matter of History

Kara Cooney Author Of When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt

From my list on power and the powerless.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a specialist of ancient Egyptian social history, who against the better judgment of (practically all) her colleagues uses the ancient past to make the present understandable. If we don’t fetishize the ancient Egyptians as separate and magical, they have something to teach us, whispering to us from the past through papyri, temples, and archaeological sites. After all, Egyptian history is 3000 years plus in its time span, an astounding data set of a people using same approximate language, government system, religion, and culture. Some of us look hungrily to replicate that kind of lasting and divine power. I am obsessed with power—how it works, why we are helpless to it, and who gets exploited by it. The ancient Egyptian kings effectively packaged their power not only as necessary, but as moral and good, ancient marketing that continues to work on our minds.

Kara's book list on power and the powerless

Kara Cooney Why did Kara love this book?

I am recommending this volume because it shocked me with its ability to nestle humans into the world as an integral part of the natural world, not separate from it, not rulers over it, but clever animals that need the Earth more than the Earth needs us. It helps me to undercut the manufactured power of the divinely ordained rulers from ancient Egypt.

By Timothy J. Lecain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New insights into the microbiome, epigenetics, and cognition are radically challenging our very idea of what it means to be 'human', while an explosion of neo-materialist thinking in the humanities has fostered a renewed appreciation of the formative powers of a dynamic material environment. The Matter of History brings these scientific and humanistic ideas together to develop a bold, new post-anthropocentric understanding of the past, one that reveals how powerful organisms and things help to create humans in all their dimensions, biological, social, and cultural. Timothy J. LeCain combines cutting-edge theory and detailed empirical analysis to explain the extraordinary late-nineteenth…

Book cover of The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History

Conrad Kickert Author Of Dream City: Creation, Destruction, and Reinvention in Downtown Detroit

From my list on the exciting life of cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in a Dutch city, I vividly remember witnessing the excitement of urban life through the windows of a streetcar, on foot, or by bike. Soon, I began to recreate this excitement by drawing maps of imaginary cities of my own. My small towns turned into entire regions, their streets coming to life as I closed my eyes. I essentially turned my childhood fascination into my job, as I now study, design, and teach students how to improve cities. Our best cities are places where citizens can interact with one another, overcoming social, economic, and environmental evolutions and revolutions. I never cease to be fascinated with the key to these everlasting cities.

Conrad's book list on the exciting life of cities

Conrad Kickert Why did Conrad love this book?

We can understand cities not only through their societies, their experience, and their history, but also by studying their physical form. Spiro Kostof describes how cities across the world have distinct yet still interrelated patterns of streets, blocks, plots, and buildings. Rather than taking a chronological approach, Kostof illustrates the form of cities through time and space through four main types of urban form, from organic shapes and grids to diagrams and grand interventions. If you look at your own city, you will likely find a combination of all of the above! This is one of the first books on cities I bought as a teenager, and it really inspired me to study and improve the form of our urban environments.

By Spiro Kostof,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Spanning the ages and the globe, Spiro Kostof explores the city as a "repository of cultural meaning" and an embodiment of the community it shelters. Widely used by both architects and students of architecture, The City Shaped won the AIA's prestigious book award in Architecture and Urbanism. With hundreds of photographs and drawings that illustrate Professor Kostof's innovative ideas, this has become one of the most important works on urbanization.

Book cover of The Archaeology of Urbanism in Ancient Egypt: From the Predynastic Period to the End of the Middle Kingdom

Alejandro Jiménez Serrano Author Of Descendants of a Lesser God: Regional Power in Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt

From my list on Ancient Egypt from a peripheral perspective.

Why am I passionate about this?

The Egyptology permits me to make an approach to the human past. Although there were many different cultures from which the current society is heir, the survival of innumerable written documents from ancient Egypt together with the good conservation of the archaeological material, give us the possibility to feel closer to the humans who lived in the Nile Valley thousands of years ago.

Alejandro's book list on Ancient Egypt from a peripheral perspective

Alejandro Jiménez Serrano Why did Alejandro love this book?

Studies on Egyptian archeology have traditionally focused on necropolises, although there have been published numerous archaeological reports of settlements of different types.

With this work, Professor Nadine Moeller demonstrates that there is enough data to understand the vital context of the Egyptian populations who lived during the first millennium and a half of Egyptian History. It is a basic tool to approach Egyptian archaeology.

By Nadine Moeller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Archaeology of Urbanism in Ancient Egypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this book, Nadine Moeller challenges prevailing views on Egypt's non-urban past and argues for Egypt as an early urban society. She traces the emergence of urban features during the Predynastic period up to the disintegration of the powerful Middle Kingdom state (c.3500-1650 BC). This book offers a synthesis of the archaeological data that sheds light on the different facets of urbanism in ancient Egypt. Drawing on evidence from recent excavations as well as a vast body of archaeological data, this book explores the changing settlement patterns by contrasting periods of strong political control against those of decentralization. It also…

Book cover of Life and Death in Ancient Egypt: Scenes from Private Tombs in New Kingdom Thebes

Melinda Hartwig Author Of The Tomb Chapel of Menna (Tt 69): The Art, Culture, and Science of Painting in an Egyptian Tomb

From my list on ancient Egyptian tombs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by ancient Egypt since I was ten. I started my first project in Luxor, Egypt, when I was 21, and for the last 35+ years, these projects have uncovered the stories of Theban tomb owners and the times in which they lived. For this reason, I’ve chosen some of the most accessible books on ancient Egyptian tombs and their decoration. I hope that these books will excite you about the humanity of those who lived thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt.

Melinda's book list on ancient Egyptian tombs

Melinda Hartwig Why did Melinda love this book?

Books that examine the multiple meanings of ancient Egyptian tomb decoration in a number of tombs are depressingly rare. Hodel-Hoenes takes us on a tour of some of the most significant private tombs in the ancient necropolis of Thebes and discusses the content and symbolism of their colored reliefs and paintings in this profusely illustrated book. These tombs belong to high officials that served the king and many are not open to the public, which makes this book invaluable.

By Sigrid Hodel-Hoenes, David Warburton (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life and Death in Ancient Egypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This stunning volume is a rarity among Ancient Egyptian art books in being devoted not to remains of royalty but to the tombs of private people-it is the first book in English on this subject.Sigrid Hodel-Hoenes leads us on an expedition to the cemetery used by the officials of New Kingdom Egypt on the eastern flanks of the Western mountain across from Thebes, between the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. She examines the contents of eleven tombs belonging to civil servants, the private people of this ancient city. (All of these tombs are currently accessible…

Book cover of Sufi Institutions

Alexander Knysh Author Of Sufism: A New History of Islamic Mysticism

From my list on teaching you how to be a Sufi.

Why am I passionate about this?

My exploration of Sufism began in the unlikely environment of the Soviet Union where Sufism was considered a relic of the past to be replaced by the atheist, world-asserting ideology. The fact that my Muslim academic advisor assigned this topic to me, an active customs officer, was nothing short of a miracle. It was the beginning of a chain of miracles that punctuated my teaching and research career in the USSR, UK, US, EU, and the post-Soviet republics of Eurasia, especially Tatarstan and Kazakhstan. Having observed Sufism in various shapes and forms for over thirty years, my knowledge of its precepts and rituals is of great help to me in everyday life.  

Alexander's book list on teaching you how to be a Sufi

Alexander Knysh Why did Alexander love this book?

Now that you know what Sufism is all about, it is time to find out what lies behind the romantic façade of Sufi love poetry, ecstatic outbursts, and exotic rituals. For this purpose, I cannot recommend a better guide than this collective monograph. Its authors explain the nuts and bolts of Sufi life past and present: how Sufis interact with the world that they are supposed to despise and reject, how they feed themselves and their families, how they create and sustain their fellowships and associations, how their shrines serve as centers of charity, education, and arbitration as well as objects of pilgrimages, both collective and individual. My greatest takeaway from this informative and richly illustrated volume is Sufism’s remarkable adaptability. It thrives in the countryside, urban spaces, and cyber environment, often against great odds. 

By Alexandre Papas (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume describes the social and practical aspects of Islamic mysticism (Sufism) across centuries and geographical regions. Its authors seek to transcend ethereal, essentialist and "spiritualizing" approaches to Sufism, on the one hand, and purely pragmatic and materialistic explanations of its origins and history, on the other. Covering five topics (Sufism's economy, social role of Sufis, Sufi spaces, politics, and organization), the volume shows that mystics have been active socio-religious agents who could skillfully adjust to the conditions of their time and place, while also managing to forge an alternative way of living, worshiping and thinking.

Basing themselves on the…

Book cover of I Dare You

Lindsey Iler Author Of Glass Heart Savage

From my list on romance with heroes you’ll love to hate.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author who always finds something redeemable in the most chaotic characters. I not only love to write broken characters, but I search them out while reading. There’s something beautiful in their redemption and their growth. It’s simple to fall in love with the easy heroes, the ones that can do no wrong. The ones that make you stop reading because you don’t think you can take it anymore and cause your heart to race in the middle of the night as you devour their story, those are the heroes that I love. They usually end up being the ones you love to hate.

Lindsey's book list on romance with heroes you’ll love to hate

Lindsey Iler Why did Lindsey love this book?

Delicious. Sexy. I Dare You is… honestly, I don’t know how to describe it. I think that’s why I love it so much. From the first page, you are immediately transported to this world full of chaos and depravity. Cole Reynolds is the ultimate book boyfriend with edge and a healthy dose of mystery to keep you enthralled until the middle of the night reading.

By Shantel Tessier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What do you do when the devil has you in his sights? You show him that you can play his game. Austin Lowes is new to town. She's running from a mom who hates her to her dad who cares nothing about her. Only a few months and she will be free, or at least, that's what she hopes ... until she meets him.

Cole Reynolds is the devil disguised as a man. He wants her fear, he wants her blood, and he wants her soul. Just a little game, he says, I dare you. Will Austin survive him, or…

Book cover of An Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Papyrus of Sobekmose

Catherine Butzen Author Of Painter of the Dead

From my list on explaining why people think mummies are cursed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by ancient Egypt – a remote era of history, but so well preserved! I love reading the old documents and finding out what they ate or why the worker Tilamentu was absent from the building site one day. (Turns out he had a fight with his wife). Pop culture likes to focus on the mummies, especially the cursed kind, and I couldn’t help wondering why. Where did those ideas come from? Did the Egyptians actually believe in curses? And what would someone like Tilamentu Q. Public think of it all? I hope you enjoy learning about it as much as I did!

Catherine's book list on explaining why people think mummies are cursed

Catherine Butzen Why did Catherine love this book?

I remember being a kid in a museum, staring at the figurines making up a strange judgment scene. Gods weighing a man’s heart against a feather – what was that all about? If you want to understand the ancient Egyptians, you need a good Book of the Dead. This translation of the goldsmith Sobekmose’s burial copy won’t bring any cursed mummies back to life, but it gives you a road map to ancient Egyptian paradise... and some neat spells to control demons, if they happen to turn up along the way. 

By Paul F. O' Rourke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Book of the Dead of Sobekmose, in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, New York, is one of the most important surviving examples of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead genre. Such `books' - papyrus scrolls - were composed of traditional funerary texts, including magic spells, that were thought to assist a dead person on their journey into the afterlife. The ancient Egyptians believed in an underworld fraught with dangers that needed to be carefully navigated, from the familiar, such as snakes and scorpions, to the extraordinary: lakes of fire to cross, animal-headed demons to pass and, of…