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8 Outstanding Books on Mythology

Since the dawn of humanity, storytelling has been an integral part of our existence. Myths and legends, whether they feature ancient deities or epic romances, have been passed down through generations worldwide. Engaging heroes, profound morals, and intense conflicts make these narratives last. Stories steeped in history, like those of Ancient Greece or China’s fabled past, still capture our collective imagination today. Explore this collection where classic myths are reimagined and retold through the pages of these engaging books.

Best Mythology Books

1. Pandora’s Jar By Natalie Haynes

Women have consistently held intricate roles within Greek mythology. From Hera’s vehement jealousy to Jocasta’s tragic involvement in the demise of her son-turned-husband Oedipus, they are central to these narratives yet often portrayed as antagonists. In her book, Pandora’s Jar, author, classicist, and comedian Natalie Haynes invites readers to reconsider these female figures in ancient myths. By reinterpreting these tales through a contemporary perspective, Haynes offers richer and more nuanced depictions of women such as Pandora and Medusa, blending insight with humor.

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2. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

The tale of Troy’s fall is widely recognized, often summarized as “men exploiting a minor grievance to wage war.” But what about the women entangled in this story? Through the pages of her work, Pat Barker engages us with… Hushed Echoes from the Women’s Quarters It redirects our attention from the men to highlight the women impacted by this conflict. The Guardian’s Emily Wilson aptly describes it as a “feminist Iliad.”

At the center of this narrative is Briseis, a young woman captured by the Greeks and presented to Achilles as a trophy. Alongside its primary plotline are poignant glimpses into the hardships endured by Trojan women like Hecuba (Priam’s partner) and Andromaché (Hector’s better half). Here’s a refreshing twist on an old legend; it’s retold from the viewpoints of its dynamic female leads.

3. Mythos by Stephen Fry

In Mythos, Stephen Fry reimagines both well-known and obscure stories from Greek mythology, narrating them with his unique flair. Central to these narratives are magic and chaos, highlighting the (often mischievous) antics of the Greek deities. From Athena’s dramatic emergence to Pandora’s infamous unleashing of evils, Mythos is delivered with sharp wit and a playful nod.

4. The Uses of Enchantment By Bruno Bettelheim

In his seminal work, The Uses of Enchantment, renowned child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim delves into the profound impact that classic fairy tales have had on children’s development and their perception of the world over the ages. While it’s widely recognized that these stories often impart essential lessons about self-awareness and societal functioning to young minds, Bettelheim’s exploration goes deeper.

5. Circe by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller’s acclaimed novel breathes life into Circe, a lesser-known figure from The Odyssey. As the daughter of Helios, the sun god, Circe is exiled to an isolated island by Zeus due to her witchcraft abilities. While in exile, she interacts with numerous iconic mythological characters such as the Minotaur, Icarus, Medea, and Odysseus.

6. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

In this novella, Margaret Atwood shifts her focus to Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. During the lengthy period awaiting her husband’s return from the Trojan War, Penelope spends her days discreetly weaving and unraveling a tapestry. As she roams the underworld, Penelope weaves her own narrative—a story filled with desire, avarice, and murder.

7. The Japanese Myths By Joshua Frydman

Throughout history, Japanese mythology has continuously evolved, shaped by regional customs, Shinto practices, and the introduction of Buddhism. Modern Japan remains deeply influenced by these mythological narratives. Through captivating forms such as lively anime or spine-chilling horrors alongside interactive videogames—the area showcases dynamic retellings of timeless folklore. In “The Japanese Myths,” Joshua Frydman explores the rich tapestry of ancient stories that shape modern Japanese culture today.

8. Mythology (75th Anniversary Illustrated Edition) by Edith Hamilton and Jim Tierney

Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology” is arguably the quintessential book on myths, spanning Greek, Roman, and Norse traditions. In this compelling read, uncover legendary narratives of deities and champions—myths entrenched in the foundation of Western society—that enchant minds even today. Published by Hachette Book Group since its debut in 1942, Hamilton’s masterpiece has captivated millions globally over the past seventy years. For those fascinated by myth or just getting started, our specially crafted anniversary edition offers vivid illustrations alongside classic stories everyone loves.

Conclusion

How well-versed are you in mythology stories? Have faith in your smarts; they’re deeper and broader than expected. Dive headfirst into ancient stories from around the globe, or give yourself a quick mythology refresh – either path is well-supported by an array of detailed books and dynamic card games tailored for enthusiasts like you.

Published Date

1 June, 2024

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Try out our intense and sometimes mind numbing quizzes on mythology.

If you score 100% on any of our quizzes, you stand a chance to win an EXCLUSIVE gift from Mythlok!!