10 Books to Read Before you go to Tanzania

Nothing gets me more excited to visit a new country than indulging in the literature it has inspired. You can get a feel for the people, the culture and the scenery without even stepping foot inside its borders. So, here is a list of 10 books to read before you go to Tanzania.

1. Gravel Heart – Abdulrazak Gurnah

This novel follows a young man’s discovery of self and truth. And I’ve got great news for you! Abdulrazak Gurnah is a Tanzanian native, so all of his books count!

2. The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior – Tepilit Ole Saitot

A legit Maasai Warrior shares stories of his youth in the Maasai tribe as well as his pursuit of an education outside of it. Needless to say, his tales of childhood are vastly different from the western world.

3. The Serengeti Rules – Sean B. Carroll

Equal parts educational and entertaining, this book’s tagline says it all: “The quest to discover how life works and why it matters.”

4. The Shadow of Kilimanjaro – Rick Ridgeway

Once upon a time, Rick Ridgeway spent a month trekking from the top of Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean, through Kenya’s Tsavo Park. Get your adventure pants on, because this memoir will have you booking the next flight to Tanzania.

5. In the Shadow of Man – Jane Goodall

You like chimpanzees? Jane Goodall sure did and she wrote all about it in this memoir.

6. The Tree Where Man Was Born – Peter Matthiessen

Peter Matthiessen shares his observations of Tanzania while traveling there in the early 1970s.

7. Death in Zanzibar – M. M. Kaye

You may not have gathered this from the title, but this murder mystery is about death in…dun, dun dun…ZANZIBAR!

8. Dar es Salaam – Tara Kai

A coming-of-age story about a 14 year old girl on vacation in Tanzania’s capital city.

9. Kilimanjaro Diaries – Eve Melusine Thieme

This is a memoir about the author’s experience climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. While it is an entertaining account of the climb, a solid 80% is about her bathroom habits on the mountain.

10. A Girl Called Problem – Katie Quirk

This young adult novel follows a thirteen year old girl named Shida (problem in Swahili) and her struggle to find a balance between respecting old customs and pursuing modern medicine.

Now that you’ve read all the books, why not watch a few Tanzania Movies and listen to my Tanzania Playlist?

Need help figuring out what to pack for Kilimanjaro, Safari, and Zanzibar? Click here for a printable PDF packing list!

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