The best books on the stories and epics of Norse mythology

Why am I passionate about this?

As a fiction writer who prides herself on drowning her stories in a thick marinade of authenticity, I’m a research hound. In preparing to write my Asgard Awakening series, I leaned on my lifelong love of mythology to fuel countless hours of research about Norse cosmology, runes, myths, and gods. I now consider myself an expert on deconstructing Marvel movie plotlines, comparing their Asgardian characters to the Norse gods they’re based on, and womansplaining everything the studio did wrong to any sucker who will listen. ;-)


I wrote...

Runed

By Kendall Grey,

Book cover of Runed

What is my book about?

After destroying the world at Ragnarok, the Norse trickster god Loki wakes up in the 21st century only to discover he's no longer a male god but a lowly human woman. He’s been a woman before, but this time, it’s permanent. Also, it sucks. Teaming up with a Scandinavian Studies student and Odin's former raven (now a snarky chicken), Loki embarks on a quest for the runes that will restore his immortality—and his manhood, Norns willing—to its former glory.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths

Kendall Grey Why did I love this book?

It might seem strange to include a children’s picture book on a “Best Books in Norse Mythology” list, but D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths was my first exposure to the old Scandinavian tales when I was a young adult, and it stuck with me through the years. Not only are the illustrations wondrous, but the stories are told in a simple way that anyone can understand. I’ve found it hard to visualize concepts like Yggdrasil, aka the World Tree that supports the cosmos and the Nine Realms, but this book brought the World Tree to life in my mind’s eye. I continue to consult this little gem of a book from time to time and always smile at its delightful illustrations.

By Ingri D'Aulaire, Edgar Parin D'Aulaire,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Caldecott medal-winning d'Aulaires once again captivate their young audience with this beautifully illustrated introduction to Norse legends, telling stories of Odin the All-father, Thor the Thunder-god and the theft of his hammer, Loki the mischievous god of the Jotun Race, and Ragnarokk, the destiny of the gods. Children meet Bragi, the god of poetry, and the famous Valkyrie maidens, among other gods, goddesses, heroes, and giants. Illustrations throughout depict the wondrous other world of Norse folklore and its fantastical Northern landscape.


Book cover of Norse Mythology

Kendall Grey Why did I love this book?

I’ve loved Neil Gaiman’s way with words since his groundbreaking Sandman comic series, so when I heard he was writing his version of the Norse myths, I jumped on the audiobook. Gaiman is an incredible storyteller who weaves complex, visceral stories that dig at your soul. Not only did this book refresh my education on the old myths, but Gaiman made them come to life in a way no one else can. Norse Mythology was the perfect starting place for me as I prepared to write my own story centered around the gods of the Vikings. I highly recommend the audiobook. Gaiman narrates it himself and does so beautifully. You won’t regret it.

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Norse Mythology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin's son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki-son of a giant-blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the…


Book cover of The Prose Edda

Kendall Grey Why did I love this book?

You can’t have a “Best of Norse Mythology” list without including this groundbreaking tome. Sturlusson was a thirteenth-century Icelander who was one of the first to physically document the Scandinavian myths, whose traditions had been passed down orally. He penned the Edda as a sort of handbook for skaldic poets to use when writing verse. The Edda is considered by many as the most important source for Norse mythology in existence. While conducting research for my series, the Prose Edda became my go-to bible for all things Norse. Every god, every story, every place you can imagine is included in this book. It is absolutely essential for anyone who wants to learn more about Norse mythology.

By Snorri Sturluson, Jesse L. Byock (translator),

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Prose Edda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source of Norse mythology

Written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, The Prose Edda tells ancient stories of the Norse creation epic and recounts the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival. In prose interspersed with powerful verse, the Edda shows the gods' tragic realization that the future holds one final cataclysmic battle, Ragnarok, when the world will be destroyed. These tales have proved to be among the most influential of all myths and legends, inspiring works…


Book cover of Nordic Runes: Understanding, Casting, and Interpreting the Ancient Viking Oracle

Kendall Grey Why did I love this book?

This book veers off the path of mythological source material into the land of metaphysics. It contains explanations and interpretations of Norse runes and how they were (and still are, by modern pagans) used for divination. The first part focuses on lore surrounding the runic alphabet—often called “Elder Futhark” runes, which can be traced back to Viking times. Part two discusses rune staves, which are formed by combinations of the individual runes to create powerful symbols. The book ends with a section on rune casting. In my research about Nordic runes, I found this book quite helpful and enlightening.

By Paul Rhys Mountfort,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nordic Runes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive and practical guide to the ancient oracle based on the runic alphabet of the Norse

• Reveals the symbolism and divinatory significance of the 24 rune "staves"

• Provides clear instructions on how to craft your own rune stones

• Explains the role of runes in the Norse wisdom tradition and its influence on such works as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

Nordic runes are a potent and profoundly transformative magic system that gives contemporary readers access to the ancient wisdom tradition of Northern European cultures. The runes have deep resonances within the pagan Norse world of gods…


Book cover of The Wanderer's Havamal

Kendall Grey Why did I love this book?

This Old Norse poem was part of the collection of works included in the Poetic Edda, written around 1300 CE and collected by Snorri Sturlusson. It centers around the god Odin and includes advice for life and love, the story of Odin’s self-sacrifice on the World Tree of Yggdrasil, and eighteen spells Odin claims to know. The book provides revealing details about life in Viking times, but my favorite part is the section on spells, which include healing, manipulating metal so weapons do less damage, escape artistry, redirecting curses, calming winds, and even resurrection. Hávamál isn’t as popular as some of the other poems, but it’s worth a read for the insights into the god Odin and what makes him tick.

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wanderer's Havamal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Wanderer's Havamal features Jackson Crawford's complete, carefully revised English translation of the Old Norse poem Havamal , newly annotated for this volume, together with facing original Old Norse text sourced directly from the Codex Regius manuscript. Rounding out the volume are Crawford's classic Cowboy Havamal and translations of other related texts central to understanding the character, wisdom, and mysteries of odinn (Odin). Portable and reader-friendly, it makes an ideal companion for both lovers of Old Norse mythology and those new to the wisdom of this central Eddic poem wherever they may find themselves.


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Split Decision

By David Perlmutter,

Book cover of Split Decision

David Perlmutter Author Of The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a freelance writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, specializing in media history and speculative fiction. I have been enchanted by animation since childhood and followed many series avidly through adulthood. My viewing inspired my MA thesis on the history of animation, out of which grew two books on the history and theory of animation on television, America 'Toons In: A History of Television Animation (available from McFarland and Co.) and The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows (available from Rowman and Littlefield). Hopefully, others will follow.

David's book list on understanding the history of animation

What is my book about?

Jefferson Ball, the mightiest female dog in a universe of the same, is, despite her anti-heroic behavior, intent on keeping her legacy as an athlete and adventurer intact. So, when female teenage robot Jody Ryder inadvertently angers her by smashing her high school records, Jefferson is intent on proving her superiority by outmuscling the robot in a not-so-fair fight. Not wanting to seem like a coward, and eager to end her enemy's trash talking, Jody agrees.

However, they have been lured to fight each other by circumstances beyond their control. Which are intent on destroying them if they don't destroy each other in combat first...

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Norse mythology, mythology, and Old Norse?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Norse mythology, mythology, and Old Norse.

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