Whether you found this list searching for the best books set in Africa or you are participating in the Book Voyage reading challenge, you’ll find great titles on our list of books set on this vast continent.
The African Continent: Its Geography, People, and Biodiversity
Africa is the second-largest continent by geographic area, and is also the second-largest population (1.2 billion people), after Asia in both cases. All too often in the Western world, we hear Africa described as if it is one homogenous place, and the “African people” described as if there are all part of a common group. It’s important to remember that Africa is, in fact, a huge, heterogeneous continent. There are 55 member countries of the African Union, more than 3,000 different ethnic groups, and more than 2000 languages spoken.
In addition to the diversity of its people and cultures, Africa is also rich in biodiversity. This continent is home to at least one-fifth of all known species of mammals, birds, and plants, as well as a wide variety of ecosystems, including deserts, drylands, savannahs, tropical forests, and mangrove forests. As a result of many factors, including population growth, agricultural practices, rapid urbanization, and illegal wildlife trafficking, Africa’s biodiversity is at serious risk, and it has been estimated that by 2100, as many as 50% of its mammal and bird species could disappear. This makes conservation-friendly development an important priority.
Does This Book List Include a Book for Every African Country?
Due to the very large number of African countries and our desire to keep our list of recommended books to a manageable length, we have not included a book on the list for every African country. Instead, we have broken our reading into the five geographic regions as recognized by the African Union, and have curated a diverse list of books representing each region.
The Regions of Africa
The following is a list of the African regions, and the countries that make up each region, as currently recognized by the African Union.
- Northern Africa: Algeria*, Egypt*, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, and Tunisia
- Western Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo
- Central Africa: Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé and Príncipe
- Eastern Africa: Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda
- Southern Africa: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
*Note that we include the Northern African countries of Algeria and Egypt on the reading list for the Middle Eastern geopolitical region, and therefore have not included books from these two countries on the reading list below.
What Kind of Books are Included On This List?
While no one book can possibly capture the diversity of an entire continent, we hope that our recommendations below will serve as a good starting point as you begin to explore the various regions and countries of Africa, and will pique your interest to learn more.
Our list of books set in Africa includes historical fiction, contemporary fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs that will illustrate the vast diversity and beauty of this continent.
The Best Books Set in Africa
BOOKS SET IN NORTHERN AFRICA
We previously included the Northern African countries of Algeria and Egypt on the reading list for the Middle Eastern geopolitical region, and therefore have not included books from these two countries on the reading list below.
BOOKS SET IN WESTERN AFRICA
Additional Titles Set in Nigeria
There are so many excellent titles set in Nigeria that we had a hard time narrowing it down for this list. A few others that are worth your consideration are:
Nearlly All the Men in Lagos Are Mad by Damilare Kuku (Nigerian author)
Collection of short stories
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Nigerian author)
Warning: There are some graphic adult scenes, including sexual assault.
There Was a Country by Chinua Achebe (Nigerian author)
Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro (Nigerian-American author)
BOOKS SET IN CENTRAL AFRICA
BOOKS SET IN EASTERN AFRICA
BOOKS SET IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
You are welcome to choose any book that you’d like to read for the challenge, but we hope that this list of books has given you a good starting point.
Members of our email list and Facebook group, Read with the Book Girls can log ratings for their monthly challenge reads. The logs provide us with data for the “BGG Reader Ratings” that are added to descriptions for future years. We’d love you to contribute your rating after you’ve finished your read this month.
Join the Book Voyage Reading Challenge
Book Recommendations For Other Regions of the World
- Books Set in the Middle East
- Books Set on a Form of Transportation
- Books Set in Asia: Northern Countries
- Books Set in Asia: Southern Countries
- Books Set in Australia and New Zealand
- Books Set in Eastern Europe & Russia
- Books That Take Place On an Island
- Books Set in Africa
- Books Set in Western Europe
- Books Set in Antarctica and the Arctic
- Books that Span Multiple Continents
- Books Set in North America
- Books Set in South America
Can you send me a printable list with the book titles but not descriptions?
This was a big request last year that we weren’t able to add to our plates in 2022. New for 2023, readers who support Book Girls Guide through our Buy Me a Coffee membership site will receive special monthly printable journal pages as a thank you bonus. The voluntary members (we call them our BFFs) help cover the cost of running the challenges so we can keep them free for everyone.
We’re so excited to be able to offer this fun perk this year!
The new pages will be pre-filled with every book title for the month, and include space for you to mark your interest level, make notes about whether you’ve requested the book from the library (or any other notes you’d like), and then fill in your rating. We’ll also include blank lines in case you have other books on your TBR (to be read) list that meet the prompt.