Now’s the time to start thinking about your travel plans for 2020. And, whether you intend to backpack solo through Europe or fancy taking a trip to Asia in pursuit of tasty food and a life-changing spiritual experience, reading during your journey can help to enhance your trip.
CarRentals.com did a study regarding the quest for wanderlust and how literature plays a role in modern-day adventure. And, they found that while travel guides and even online publications like ours exist, there are few better ways to immerse yourself in the local culture than by talking to locals about their national literature or diving straight into one of the country’s most famous books.
These are the seven books that you should read before travelling to Africa. They’ll all help you understand the culture from their eyes. Get ready for a whole new wave of literary travel.
For more literary travel recommendations, check out the full list and map of World Travel Through Literature.
Books To Read Before Travelling To AfricaHow do these rankings work?
Best to read before travelling to: Morocco
What it’s about: “Author Susannah Clarke and her husband fall in love with the idea of purchasing a home to create a riad. In this hilarious light-read, Clarke documents the trials and tribulations involved in renovating a ruined riad in the Fes medina, but also the heart-warming relationships made along the way.’
Best to read before travelling to: Libya (really, though, it’s a must-read if you’re headed to Africa in general)
What it’s about: “In this superb account of Gaddafi’s downfall, Hilsum reports first-hand on the 2011 uprising, but sets it against longer history. We follow the colonel from young, charismatic army officer and revolutionary to bizarre, Botoxed, delusional dictator.”
Best to read before travelling to: Egypt
What it’s about: “Hugh Miles, living it up in Cairo as a journalist and expat barfly, met and fell in love with Roda, who introduced him to the card game ‘tarneeb’, to her all-female card circle, and to a previously unseen side of life in the Egyptian capital.”
Best to read before travelling to: Kenya
What it’s about: “In a nutshell, the novel is a love story. It gives an account of a life-long passion for and relationship with the country Kenya in all its exuberance and raw pain. Growing up in a village near Nairobi, the narrator uses dolls to act out and embody some of the conflicts she sees around her.”
Best to read before travelling to: South Africa
What it’s about: “Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country.”
Best to read before travelling to: Tanzania
What it’s about: “The story of a 12-year-old boy sold by his father to repay a debt. Both a tragic love story and a tale of the corruption of traditional African patterns by European colonialism.”
Best to read before travelling to: Uganda
What it’s about: “Mwambu will climb the mountain where he hopes to touch heaven, but his journey from naive curiosity to adulthood will reveal unexpected contradictions as traditional values collide with Western values.’