Libya: travel books to read before you go

This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Libya guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

South from BarbarySouth from Barbary (by Justin Marozzi) is an acclaimed account of an epic modern journey by camel from Ghadames to Al-Kufra, and it contains a wealth of historical detail but reads like a boy’s own adventure at times.

In the Country of MenIn the Country of Men (by Hisham Matar) is a complete change of pace – a compelling, if somewhat harrowing, novel that observes the uncertainties of Qaddafi’s Libya through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy. This book was shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.

Difficult and Dangerous RoadsDifficult & Dangerous Roads – Hugh Clapperton’s Travels in Sahara & Fezzan 1822-25 (by Hugh Clapperton) returns you to the world of desert exploration and is a sometimes cranky, but highly readable account of Clapperton’s journeys through the Libyan Sahara.

A Cure for SerpentsA Cure for Serpents (by Alberto Denti di Piranjo) transports you into the Italian colonial period with an engaging and unusually sympathetic account of Libya and its people as told by a charismatic Italian doctor.

Desert Encounter (by Knud Holmboe) provides a profoundly contrasting account of a journey across Libya under the Italians. One of the few firsthand accounts of the Italian occupation of Libya in the early 1930s, it reveals the devastation wrought by Italian rule on ordinary Libyan society.

On the Shores of the MediterraneanOn the Shores of the Mediterranean (by Eric Newby) offers a small section only on Libya, but there’s no more entertaining account of modern Libya before the tourists arrived.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.