With political unrest roiling in one of the Middle East’s most populous and economically developed countries, patrons may come looking for books about Egypt. We’ve published quite a few of them over the years, but here are three that, together, we think will cover a wide range of readers’ advisory needs.

First, a little history. (Okay, it’s a decent-sized history.) Presenting (again) 2008’s A HISTORY OF EGYPT by Jason Thompson (available as an ebook as well), a comprehensive, managable, and well reviewed work from Anchor. From the Booklist review:

“Thompson’s survey fluidly relates thousands of years of time. Acquainting readers with the conventional divisions of pharaonic Egypt into the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms, Thompson highlights important events…[His] explanations of transitions in the governance of Egypt combine the political details with consideration of the tactics that would win people’s acceptance of a change in regime….Thompson provides an excellent introduction to Egyptian history.”

Second, a classic work of fiction: THE THIEF AND THE DOGS from Nobel-prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz.  This title has been selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for their Big Reads program and is considered the novel about Cairo.

How could you NOT read a book by this guy?

Fore readers trying to learn more about the women of Egypt: Finally, we come to THE MAP OF LOVE (also available as an ebook) by Ahdaf Soueif, a novel which was shortlisted for the Booker prize. There is no one who comes closer to explaining what life is like for women in Egypt than Soueif. Another of her novels, IN THE EYE OF THE SUN (also available as an ebook), is also very substantial, beautifully written, and worth recommending to your patrons. Both novels have great track records in book clubs.

To see a spreadsheet of these titles and their information for ordering, click here.

The Short List: Essential Egypt Books

Category: MusingsStaff Picks
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