Cairo 2016

The future never looks like what you thought it would - but it's almost always awesome.  It's official folks, we are headed to Cairo in 2016!

Let me rewind for a minute and tell you that Egypt was the first place I visited outside of America. Unless you count a sunburned afternoon in Tijuana, which I don't. At the Cairo airport I tucked my money belt under a baggy shirt, pulled my hat down and braced myself for what I was told would be an incredible and overwhelming city.  And it was. Everything after Cairo has seemed like a breeze in comparison.

We've been trying to balance romantic expectations with the very real instability and challenges we'll face in Egypt. We can't know exactly what it will be like until we get there, but we are trying to be as clear eyed as possible.

...but it's Egypt, people. There is so much to learn that my head spins from time to time.  I've started a bit early and, as any good librarian would offer, here are a few titles if you want to dive into Egypt's rich literary and archeological history with me:

The Yacubian Building: Alaa Al Aswany
The Cairo Trilogy:  Naguib Mahfouz
The Blue Manuscript: Abiha Al Khemir 
Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody bk. 1): Elizabeth Peters
Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt: Barbara Mertz
Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East: Scott Anderson
A Brief History of Islam: Karen Armstrong (who I love)
The Road to Tahrir Square: Lloyd C. Gardner
The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit;  A Jewish Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World: Lucette Lagnado
Cairo the Victorious: Max Rodenbeck
Letters from Egypt: A Journey on the Nile, 1849-1850: Florence Nightingale
The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered The Hidden Gospels: Jane Soskice

Here's to hoping we've grown the chops to take on the city! 


  1. What a fascinating city and opportunity. Excited for you!!

  2. So fun! Andrew did a "reading tour" class at AUC (and I read along with him). It was so much fun! We'd read a book and then take a self-guided walking tour through the area (if we could find it).

    Birds of Passage, Midaq Alley, The Open Door, and the The Lamp of Umm Hashim were also on the list we read (in case you're looking for more titles). I don't think we read all the books on your list, but we did read some (I loved Cairo: The City Victorious).

    I'm excited for you guys! I love Cairo!

  3. Nancy - yes, yes! I would love more titles. Pass anything my way.

  4. We absolutely LOVED Egypt and I would love to go back some day. My only advice? Take the dress code seriously. I walked everywhere in our neighborhood and always felt safe, but harassment happens. Oh, and add to your reading list:
    Taxi by Khaled Alkhamissi
    A Thousand Miles Up the Nile by Amelia B Edwards (should be on Gutenberg)
    Cleopatra by Stacey Schiff
    If you like historical fiction read The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer. It is about the meeting of Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert. Fun read.
    Of course all things Nagib Mahfouz.

  5. More books!! Thanks so much Hannelene. I totally get the dress code thing - I'm already baggy pants and long sleeved shirt shopping :)

  6. Brooke, I just found out we'll see you in Egypt in 2017! I'm so excited (and somewhat nervous) to go back. Lots more reading to do! You'll have to visit the book binders' in the Khan. Excellent fun.