The human race has been telling stories since before we knew what stories were. Now, though the world is filled with all kinds of stories — from psychological thrillers to summer romances to space operas — we still somehow find ourselves going back to themes that have been around since the beginning: themes of love and loss, starting a journey and coming home again after. The root of these themes? Classic mythology from all over the world.

If you want to get started on this journey, there are tons of good material out there — from definitive volumes to modern retellings. Don’t know where to start? Check out some of our picks below!


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Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes (75th Anniversary Illustrated Edition)
By Edith Hamilton

For 75 years readers have chosen this book above all others to discover the thrilling, enchanting, and fascinating world of Western mythology — from Odysseus’s adventure-filled journey to the Norse god Odin’s effort to postpone the final day of doom. This stunningly illustrated, larger-format hardcover edition will be beloved by fans of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology of all ages.

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Norse Mythology
By Neil Gaiman

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

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The Story of King Arthur and His Knights
By Howard Pyle

When the young Arthur pulls the embedded sword from the stone, his future as the King of England is foretold. This imaginative retelling of the classic legends recounts the story of Arthur’s formation of the Knights of the Round Table, his securing of the enchanted sword Excalibur, his wooing of the Lady Guinevere and many other beloved Arthurian tales.

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Aladdin and the Arabian Nights

First collected nearly a millennium ago, these folktales are presented as stories that the beautiful Scheherazade tells her husband, King Shahryar, over 1001 consecutive nights. They include some of the best-known legends of eastern storytelling: “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor,” “The Story of Aladdin; or, The Wonderful Lamp,” and “The Story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” This beautiful collection features more than 20 tales plus illustrations in full color and black and white by René Bull.

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D’Aulaires’ Books of Myths
By Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

The Caldecott medal-winning d’Aulaires captivate their audience with these beautifully illustrated introductions to mythology. In these books, readers can find the greats of ancient Greece — gods and goddesses, heroes and monsters; and Norse legends — Odin the All-father, Thor the Thunder-god and the theft of his hammer, Loki the mischievous god of the Jotun Race; among other gods, goddesses, heroes, and giants. In print for over 50 years, both adults and children alike will find these books a treasure for years to come.

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Circe and The Song of Achilles
By Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller brilliantly reimagines the tales of gods and kings and heroes in Circe and The Song of Achilles. In Circe, she tells an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss — a celebration of the indomitable female strength in a man’s world; while in The Song of Achilles, she takes Homer’s masterwork and presents readers with an action-packed adventure, an epic love story, and a marvelously conceived and executed page-turner.

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Rick Riordan’s Retellings

In the Venn diagram of mythology and YA books, Rick Riordan would be right smack in the middle of the overlap. He has been reimagining myths since 2005, starting with Percy Jackson, and continues to make more with Magnus Chase and The Trials of Apollo. His many, many books cover the general mythologies, from the Greco-Roman to the Egyptian to the Norse, and transports their larger-than-life characters into the world as we know it.


What are your favorite myths and legends? Share them in the comments!

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