The best mythology books beyond the Greeks

Jordanna Max Brodsky Author Of The Wolf in the Whale
By Jordanna Max Brodsky

Who am I?

Jordanna Max Brodsky is the author of the Olympus Bound trilogy, which follows the Greek goddess Artemis as she stalks the streets of modern Manhattan, and The Wolf in the Whale, a sweeping epic of the Norse and Inuit. Jordanna holds a degree in History and Literature from Harvard University, but she maintains that scholarship is no substitute for lived experience. Her research has taken her from the summit of Mount Olympus to the frozen tundra of Nunavut, and from the Viking ruins of Norway to Artemis’s temples in Turkey.


I wrote...

The Wolf in the Whale

By Jordanna Max Brodsky,

Book cover of The Wolf in the Whale

What is my book about?

A sweeping tale of forbidden love and warring gods, where a young Inuit shaman and a Viking warrior become unwilling allies in a war that will determine the fate of the new world.

A thousand years ago, Omat, born with the soul of a hunter and the spirit of the Wolf, journeys across the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When Omat encounters Brandr, a wounded Viking warrior, they set in motion a conflict that could shatter their icy world... or save it.

The books I picked & why

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The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Book cover of The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes

Why this book?

The most compelling original source material for the Norse myths is a collection of anonymous poems known as the Poetic Edda. Based on a 13th-century Icelandic transcription of ancient oral legends, the Poetic Edda includes the creation myths of the Ash Tree and the Frost Giants, the adventures of Thor and Loki, and many other lesser-known Norse tales. Jackson Crawford’s translation manages the difficult task of making the stories understandable while capturing the rhythm and beauty of the original poems.


Unikkaaqtuat: An Introduction to Inuit Myths and Legends

By Neil Christopher,

Book cover of Unikkaaqtuat: An Introduction to Inuit Myths and Legends

Why this book?

Living high in the world’s Arctic regions, Inuit civilization remained largely free of European influences until the twentieth century, allowing its traditions to remain relatively intact into the modern era. Like the Norse, Inuit are a people of wolves and sea monsters and giants. But while the Norse focus mainly on male gods and supernatural warriors, Inuit legends are full of female deities and resourceful humans, making for an arguably more relatable and compelling mythology. Neil Christopher’s immensely readable compendium of Inuit myths is a great introduction to this vibrant tradition.


The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

By Richard H. Wilkinson,

Book cover of The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

Why this book?

For many fans of Greek myths, Egypt is the next logical stop on a journey to a broader understanding of world mythology. As a culture which influenced both the Hellenistic and Judeo-Christian world, Egypt’s stories inform our understanding of other Western traditions. And the mania for mummies and pyramids means outstanding examples of Egyptian artifacts await in museums across the world, helping make the ancient tales come alive. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt makes for a fantastic introduction into the world of Ra, Isis, and Osiris.


Gilgamesh

By Unknown, Stanley Lombardo (translator),

Book cover of Gilgamesh

Why this book?

Unlike the Homerian epics, Gilgamesh has been studied by scholars since only the late 19th century. (David Damrosch’s The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh details its fascinating discovery among a box of cuneiform shards in the British Museum.) Yet this Babylonian epic predates the Odyssey by over a millennium and relates a hero’s journey even more formidable. While Odysseus just wants to get back home, Gilgamesh seeks immortality itself. Bloody battles with giants, marathon sex with goddesses, heartbreaking love between two men, and the universal human quest to reconcile ourselves with death—Gilgamesh has it all.


Oxford Companion to World Mythology

By David Leeming,

Book cover of Oxford Companion to World Mythology

Why this book?

The Oxford Companion is an encyclopedia, not a narrative, but I love that it includes stories from the Bible, the Quran, and other sacred texts alongside fantastical legends that span the globe. The line between myth and religion is, after all, largely subjective. King David, the nymph Daphne, and the Dayak myths of Borneo all share the same page. For those of us seeking inspiration in myth, the Oxford Companion offers ideas from Abraham to Ziusudra.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in ancient Egypt, myth, and the Poetic Edda?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about ancient Egypt, myth, and the Poetic Edda.

Ancient Egypt Explore 60 books about ancient Egypt
Myth Explore 35 books about myth
The Poetic Edda Explore 8 books about the Poetic Edda

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods: Images of the Commune, The Wanderer's Havamal, and The British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt if you like this list.