Before such epic stories like Harry Potter, or the works of Charles Dickens, or before even Shakespeare put his quill to parchment, there were the stories of the gods. In fact, works like Harry Potter, or Shakespeare, wouldn’t exist without these myths. Myths existed to explain how many things in the world came to be. It’s a custom throughout cultures all over.
In many cultures, there were mythological gods. And they weren’t always very nice. Take the Greek and Roman mythology gods. (Yes, the Romans co-opted several Greek gods, but not all of them.) Their gods were often vengeful, jealous deities, behaving like vicious, petulant little children. They were forever spying on humans, and tricking them, all for their own amusement. Still, their stories are wildly fascinating, and the source of thousands of works throughout the years. You could say they inspired fanfiction.
How many mythology stories are you familiar with? I bet Juno more than you realize. Whether you’re interested in learning about different mythologies or looking to brush up on them, Hera several books about mythology, plus some fabulous cards, to get you started.
Mythological Reads for Adults:
Seventeen years ago, King Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them has returned, and the women of Ithaca have been left behind to run the kingdom. Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. While he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that her husband is dead, and suitors are beginning to knock at her door. No one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus' empty throne—not yet. But everyone waits for the balance of power to tip, and Penelope knows that any choice she makes could plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning, wit, and her trusted circle of maids, can she maintain the tenuous peace needed for the kingdom to survive.
A stunning debut from a powerful new voice, Kaikeyi is the story of the infamous queen from the Indian epic the Ramayana. It is a tale of fate, family, courage, and heartbreak—of an extraordinary woman determined to leave her mark in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come."I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me."
The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear. Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her. But as the evil from her childhood stories threatens the cosmic order, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family. And Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak—and what legacy she intends to leave behind.
Madeline Miller's instant-classic novel tells the story of an overlooked minor character from The Odyssey: Circe. A daughter of Helios, god of the sun, Circe is banished to an island by Zeus because she possesses the ability to perform witchcraft. It is there on the island that Circe has encounters with many famous characters from mythology, including the Minotaur, Icarus, Medea, and Odysseus.
Probably the most famous of all mythology books, Edith Hamilton's Mythology introduces readers to the Greek, Roman and Norse myths that are the keystone of Western culture, and the stories of gods and heroes that have inspired human creativity throughout history. Hachette Book Group has been publishing Hamilton's classic since its release in 1942. It has sold millions of copies worldwide in the seven decades since it was introduced to the world. This is a beautifully illustrated special anniversary edition that makes a great gift for fans of mythology or readers looking to learn more about the stories.
A reckoning of the Greek and Roman myths in the #MeToo era, the antiquated misogyny of these tales, and a look at the subversive strength of the stories when examined in a different light that is often overlooked.
A recent addition to the world of wonderful books about mythology. This one explores Norse mythology, with such familiar characters as Odin, Thor, and Loki. It's written by Gaiman, the bestselling, award-winning author of such myth-inspired books as American Gods and Sandman.
And last, but not least, a look at eighty of the world's greatest myths and characters, from the gods of Greek mythology to the Norse heroes, retold and explained with DK's signature graphic-filled pages.
Mythological Reads for Teens:
Seventeen-year-old Daphne has spent her entire life honing her body and mind into that of a warrior, hoping to be accepted by the unyielding people of ancient Sparta. But an unexpected encounter with the goddess Artemis—who holds Daphne's brother's fate in her hands—upends the life she's worked so hard to build. Nine mysterious items have been stolen from Mount Olympus and if Daphne cannot find them, the gods' waning powers will fade away, the mortal world will descend into chaos, and her brother's life will be forfeit.
Guided by Artemis's twin—the handsome and entirely-too-self-assured god Apollo—Daphne's journey will take her from the labyrinth of the Minotaur to the riddle-spinning Sphinx of Thebes, team her up with mythological legends, such as Theseus and Hippolyta of the Amazons, and pit her against the gods themselves.
Mythological Reads for Kids:
From the vicious three-headed Chimera of ancient Greece to the peaceful Navagunjara of India— a creature made from parts from nine different animals—to the awe-inspiring dragons of Europe and East Asia, this exciting introduction to mythological creatures celebrates the wondrous beings featured in stories from all over the world. Including a vast array of fierce monsters, powerful spirits, ancient gods, and helpful beasts, Legendary Creatures is the perfect primer to engage young readers interested in the fascinating world of mythology.
Twenty gorgeously illustrated blank notecards, featuring notecards packaged in a magnetic-closure box, featuring portraits and scenes of the gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. The art comes from illustrated plates from the 75th-anniversary edition of Mythology by Edith Hamilton.
A beautifully illustrated beginner's book for children, to introduce them to the original North Germanic and Scandinavian folklore behind characters like Thor and Loki, plus other gods, goddesses, giants, dwarves, and more.
Children can explore the myths of Narcissus, Odysseus versus the Cyclopes, and more, with this beginner's look at Greek mythology, which also includes a Gods and Goddesses family tree poster and stickers!
What to Read Next
Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor, co-host of All the Books, a Book of the Month judge, and above all else, a ravenous reader. She resides in Maine with her cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon. You can see pictures of her cats and book hauls on Twitter @MissLiberty and Instagram @franzencomesalive.