Looking for some literary inspiration before you begin your African safari, or a good read to keep you occupied on your African overlanding trip? Here’s our pick of the best books about Africa, which span the range of fiction, memoir, journalism and travel writing.
Shadow of the Sun – Ryszard Kapuściński
Ryszard Kapuściński writes with knowledge and insight about his time living in various countries in Africa as a foreign correspondent.
Dark Star Safari – Paul Theroux
Everyone’s favourite grumpy travel writer relays the story of his journey from Cairo to Cape Town by trains, buses, cars and armed convoy.
Blood River – A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart – Tim Butcher
Journalist Tim Butcher follows in HM Stanley’s footsteps in mapping the Congo River in this tense and thrilling account of what it’s like to travel through the war-torn Congo.
The Marginal Safari – Justin Fox
The story of a thought-provoking 10 000-kilometre road trip around the edges of South Africa by award-winning travel writer Justin Fox.
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller
A poignant and funny memoir about the writer’s childhood growing up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Malawi and Zambia during the Bush War.
Safari – Tony Park
A real page turner, this action-packed thriller set in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo centres around wildlife poaching.
The Famished Road – Ben Okri
A beautifully written magical realist novel set in West Africa that follows the life of Azaro, a spirit child.
The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
This engrossing novel is about an American missionary family living in a remote village in the Belgian Congo.
No.1 Ladies Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
This series of 12 novels about a detective agency in Gaborone, Botswana has legions of fans who love the adventurous tales shot through with humour.
Jock of the Bushveld – Percy Fitzpatrick
Now a classic, this is a true story about the writer’s adventurous travels with his dog, Jock, during the late nineteenth century in South Africa’s bushveld.
Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This award-winning novel is set during the Biafran War in the late 60s in Nigeria and follows the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence.
Gorillas in the Mist – Dian Fossey
If you’re going gorilla tracking in Rwanda or Uganda, you have to read this book by the American zoologist and her groundbreaking conservation work with a dwindling population of wild mountain gorillas of Central Africa.
I Dreamed of Africa – Kuki Gallmann
The famous memoir is by an Italian writer who moved to Kenya to live on a farm with her family.
Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
One of Africa’s greatest novels tells the story of a village in Nigeria at the time of British colonisation.
Around Africa on my Bike – Riaan Manser
South African adventurer Riaan Manser was the first person to cycle around the African continent – an epic adventure covered in this engaging book.
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun – Peter Godwin
The highly praised memoir by a white Zimbabwean about his family during a time of political turbulence in his country, with land invasions, corruption and murders.