The first thing you need to know about Egyptian mythology is: no, aliens did not build the pyramids. Please stop taking the TV show Ancient Aliens seriously. And please stop jokingly asking every anthropologist or archaeologist you meet if aliens built different monuments. They will say no and then walk away before you raise their blood pressure further. It’s not funny or original. The second thing you need to know is that the civilization of Ancient Egypt spanned nearly 3,000 years, from about 3100 BCE to 332 BCE (depending on who you ask). That’s a lot of history, and a lot of mythology. For reference, there is less time between Cleopatra and the first iPhone (2,049 years) than there is between Cleopatra and the building of the pyramids (2,421 years).
That’s a lot of time for a religion to evolve, and much like Greek mythology, much of it is a trip to read. A lot of mythology is, actually. But that doesn’t make it any less important or meaningful. In Egyptian mythology, like many other religions, order struggled against chaos. There was a perpetual fight for the control of the universe, with Apep the snake forever looking to destroy Ma’at, forever battling against Ra and his protectors. There’s so much to Egyptian mythology that is difficult to condense down to a couple paragraphs, so it’s good I have some books for you instead. There’s adult fiction, adult nonfiction, kid’s fiction, and kid’s nonfiction. All written around Egyptian mythology. Take your pick.
Nonfiction Egyptian Mythology Books for Adults
Pantheon by Hamish Steele
This graphic novel is actively hilarious, and pretty accurate in showing just how much of a trip Egyptian myths can be. Illustrated in a simple style, it depicts some of the main stories of Egyptian mythology, including how Amun created the universe (in a very, uh, specific act of creation) and the epic of how Osiris became the ruler of the underworld, which causes the interesting relationship between Osiris’ son Horus and Osiris’ brother Set. While it is definitely not a book I would use as a source for any academic papers, it’s definitely a good opener to the world of Egyptian myths and will make you laugh a lot as you read.
Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt by Geraldine Pinch
If you’re looking for a more reliable, less jokey introduction to Egyptian mythology, or perhaps something closer to a reference book to keep on your shelf (other people do that, right?), then you want this one. It’s incredibly thorough, covering Egyptian belief from 3200 BCE to 400 CE, with a timeline of the stages of mythical history that breaks down how their beliefs developed around the Nile. There’s even an A to Z section that breaks down each deity, every demon, and the important concepts and principles of the vast and complicated belief system of Ancient Egypt.
Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day Translated by Ogden Goelet and Raymond Faulkner
The Book of the Dead is an incredibly important funerary text in the Ancient Egyptian religion that was written during the New Kingdom. It was placed in the coffin or burial chamber of the deceased and contained spells to assist with the individual’s journey through the Duat. While there is no one version of The Book of the Dead, this translation includes the Papyrus of Ani, a manuscript written by the royal scribe of Thebes. This book is the first time that manuscript has been compiled in color and translated into English. If you want to do a deep dive into Ancient Egyptian beliefs, this is a book you need.
Jan Assmann is a fairly big name in the world of Egyptology, and beyond for his work around cultural and collective memory. This book is quite literally a breakdown of how the Ancient Egyptian belief system worked, with examples of Egyptian literature, artwork, hymns, and various inscriptions. It is a window into how Ancient Egyptians viewed themselves and the world around them. It covers nearly the entirety of the history of Ancient Egypt, from predynastic to postpharaonic. This is a more academic text though, so it isn’t one I would recommend starting with right off the bat. I’d recommend taking it in chunks.
Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green
A collection of stories that are aimed more towards an older age group, this book moves beyond just stories abut deities. Broken into three sections: stories of the gods, stories of magic, and stories of adventure. Now, Green was a contemporary of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and was a member of the Inklings, so the writing can be a little…tedious, so I would recommend this be given to a middle schooler or older. Or, if your kid is younger but still interested or you homeschool, this would be a good book to read together and discuss after each story.
Egyptology by Emily Sands
I could not create a list of Egyptian mythology books without including this classic. The Ology books were huge when I was a kid, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were still a favorite. Everyone had one, be it Wizardology, Dragonology, Pirateology, you name it there was an Ology book about it. I had several, including this one. The age range is definitely on the younger side, from late elementary to early middle school, but I’m sure any kid that loves history or mythology would adore this book. It’s an excellent primer on Egyptian mythology and history. It tells the story of Emily Sands, an Egyptologist in 1926 on the hunt for King Tut’s tomb who mysteriously disappeared along with her crew. Your kids are gonna love this one.
Ancient Egypt Coloring Book by Hicham Eramdani
This is exactly what it says on the cover: a coloring book centered around Ancient Egypt. It depicts different deities, pharaohs, queens, and mummies. There are 50 illustrations total, all 8.5×11″ so it’s plenty big for younger kids to use. It’s another one that would be good for homeschooling as well, as you could use the illustrations to supplement your lessons.
Adult Fiction Books With Egyptian Mythology
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemison
Based on Ancient Egypt, Gujaareh is a city ruled by peace and powered by dreams. Dreams can heal, soothe, and guide people into the next life. But there is something rotten in the state of Gujaareh. Gatherer Ehiru discovers a conspiracy within the main temple, with innocent people being murdered in the name of the city’s goddess. N.K. Jemison builds a world that feels incredibly real. The theology of the world is broken down and explored deeply, but in a way that is still readable and enjoyable. The way the plot plays out is unusual, and incredibly suspenseful. You won’t want to put this one down at all.
A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark
Steampunk meets urban fantasy in Cairo, 1912. Fatma works for the Ministry of of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, and although she is the youngest individual there, she is also the person who saved the universe before. So solving the murder of a secret brotherhood should be a breeze, especially with the help of her girlfriend. Except the murderer claims to be the long-dead al-Jahiz, one of the most famous people in history. P. Djèlí Clark is a multi-award winning author and he shows it in this book. The story is told through Fatma’s point of view, but the background characters are still well-rounded and don’t feel like they are just there to move the plot. Even better, this is the first of a series, so there will be more after this one, and there are three prequels to read as well.
Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola
An anthology of retellings from multiple cultures, from West Africa to Greece to the Middle East to places no longer found on maps. Every story focuses on Black love, looking to decolonize the standard tropes that we find in so many of our love stories. The cultures Babalola writes about in these stories are heavily researched as well. And, even when there are myths adjusted in order to bring them into a modern setting, details from the culture still stay true. Stories like Nefertiti, Osun, Scheherazade, Psyche, and more have new life breathed into them, and the women in these myths get the chance to be more than a set piece.
Jackal by Erin E. Adams
Expected to be published in October 2022, this horror novel definitely deserves to be on your preorder list. The writing is poetic, the story is simultaneously horrifying and gorgeous, and the main character deeply relatable with a strong voice. Liz is a Black woman, returning to her predominantly white hometown for her friend’s wedding. But her friend’s daughter disappears the night of the wedding and Liz realizes she’s seen this before when she was a kid: a Black girl disappeared in the night during a party in the woods only to be discovered dead, with her heart missing. After digging through the town’s history, she discovers that this has happened more than twice, and that the town she grew up in isn’t what she thought.
Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction With Egyptian Mythology
The Egyptian Box by Jane Louise Curry
A little more middle school than young adult, The Egyptian Box focuses on Tee, who has been uprooted from Maine and moved across the country to California to live in the house inherited from her great-uncle. That’s not the only thing she inherited from him — there’s also this wooden doll that looks like a half wrapped mummy. That doll turns out to be a shabti, and it comes to life to do whatever Tee tells it to do: her homework, her chores, anything. Except the shabti starts to enjoy living Tee’s life too much, and now she has to figure out how to make it stop.
The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
This is set around a similar premise to the Percy Jackson series (if it ain’t broke and all that), but instead of being demigods, Carter and Sadie’s father is an Egyptologist. At least he was, until he summons a mysterious figure from the Rosetta Stone and gets himself banished by that same figure. This thrusts them into the world of Egyptian mythology, and the discovery that the gods of Ancient Egypt are coming back into the world, and some of them are planning to plunge the world into chaos. There are three books in the series, starting with The Red Pyramid, and perfect for any fan of Riordan or his other series.
Theodosia and the Serpent of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers
Now a series on HBOMax, Theodosia and the Serpent of Chaos is the first book of the Theodosia Throckmorton series. Set during the Edwardian era, Theo’s father is head curator of the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London, but only she can see the ancient curses that linger on the artifacts they have on display. Curses that she removes late at night, wandering the halls using nearly forgotten Egyptian magic. It’s going fine, until Theo’s mother returns from a dig in Egypt and returns with an artifact known as the Heart of Egypt. An artifact that carries a curse strong enough to topple the British Empire. And it’s up to Theodosia to make sure it doesn’t. The series is currently four books long, with a fifth expected at some point (you can read about that here).
If you’re looking for more books about mythology, you can check out our list of Greek mythology books, or if you’re still looking to walk like an Egyptian, you can check out our piece about books by Egyptian authors.!doctype>