The best books on Norse mythology from a wide range of perspectives

Who am I?

I write about mythology, history, art, music, and cosmology. I also write science fiction. Mythology for me is an expression of a people trying to explain the world around them within the limits of their own knowledge. We are the same. Our search to understand the origins of the universe are limited by our language and mathematics, as were the Scandinavians who discovered countries for the first time, always expanding their horizons and adapting their legends accordingly. The Vikings had a rare vitality that sprang from every mythic tale and I love to explore both the deep origins of their worldview, and their influence in the cultures of today.


I wrote...

Norse Myths

By Jake Jackson (editor),

Book cover of Norse Myths

What is my book about?

Vikings are probably the greatest warriors of the Western world. A fierce, passionate people the various tribes that spearheaded the Scandinavian invasions harried and burned a path through Europe and far beyond. From the early Medieval years, they fundamentally affected the culture of Russia, France, Britain, and sought gold, trade, and farmland as far as the Americas and Arabia, North Africa, and Asia. They were deeply religious with powerful Gods such as Odin, Thor, and Loki whose muscular exploits have fuelled the superhero phenomenon of today, with their classic heroic themes of conquest, friendship, fate, and loyalty.

This book is an excellent introduction and part of a series on popular mythology offering the dramatic tales of myths from traditions around the world.

The books I picked & why

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Norse Mythology

By Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of Norse Mythology

Why this book?

Gaiman is an exceptional and popular modern storyteller, his work in comics (Sandman), his own novels (such as the superb American Gods) and in various movie adaptations (Beowulf, 2007) demonstrates a deft and agile touch. This is an excellent introduction to the Prose Eddas, with a lively re-telling of the core tales of Norse mythology, from Odin to Loki, the frost giants to the Valkyrie. It’s a quick read which will pique your interest to research further.

Norse Mythology

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

8 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…


The Mighty Thor Omnibus Vol. 1

By Marvel Comics,

Book cover of The Mighty Thor Omnibus Vol. 1

Why this book?

For a generation brought up with Netflix, Disney Plus, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the original Marvel comics are a modern form of mythology. I grew up with such comics, reading Thor and Tolkein, Dune and Asimov’s Foundation series alongside tales of Celtic and Greek mythology. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s version was the Thor I knew, an exaggerated, simplified but utterly compelling character with his trickster brother Loki and all-too-serious father Odin. I loved it, so I’ve included this as pure nostalgia – don’t judge me!

The Mighty Thor Omnibus Vol. 1

By Marvel Comics,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mighty Thor Omnibus Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A masterpiece of immortal action, cosmic scope and boundless drama, Stan and Jack's THOR collaborations mark a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe - and that's no small accomplishment coming from the imaginations of the most celebrated creators in comics! This second Omnibus edition brings you milestone stories including the first appearances of Ego the Living Planet, Ulik the Troll and the Wrecker; battles with the Absorbing Man, the Destroyer and the Super-Skrull; adventures into Pluto's underworld and atop the High Evolutionary's Wundagore Mountain; the debut of Lady Sif as Thor's love interest; and classic tales featuring Thor and Hercules. Backed…


Beowulf

By Seamus Heaney,

Book cover of Beowulf

Why this book?

Beowulf is fascinating because it was written in Angle-land, probably Suffolk, probably in the 900s AD, when the Angles (Southern Scandinavians) held sway, with the Danes in Northumbria and Mercia, before the Anglo Saxons began to create the first truly English dynasty in Alfred the Great. It tells of a hero from Geats (in modern Sweden, possibly in the 600s AD) who rids the king of the Danes of the monster Grendel. Of all the translations Seamus Heany is the most vigorous and beautiful, and I often return to it as a reference.

Beowulf

By Seamus Heaney,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Beowulf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Composed towards the end of the first millennium, the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf is one of the great Northern epics and a classic of European literature. In his new translation, Seamus Heaney has produced a work which is both true, line by line, to the original poem, and an expression, in its language and music, of something fundamental to his own creative gift.

The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed, in that exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels between this story and the history of the…


In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire

By Tom Holland,

Book cover of In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire

Why this book?

Tom Holland’s excellent series of contextual historical books bring a rare quality, seeking beyond boundaries to understand the sweep of civilisation across continents. This book focuses on the period we call The Dark Ages in the West, from the Fall of Rome to the rise of the Anglo Saxons. But in Asia and the Middle East literature, science and religion flourished, just as the Vikings raided and traded through Europe across to Arabia where eventually they encountered the great cultures of the East.

In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire

By Tom Holland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Shadow of the Sword as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A SUNDAY TIMES TOP TEN BESTSELLER

'A stunning blockbuster' Robert Fisk

'A compelling detective story of the highest order' Sunday Times

In the 6th century AD, the Near East was divided between two great empires: the Persian and the Roman. A hundred years on, and one had vanished for ever, while the other was a dismembered, bleeding trunk. In their place, a new superpower had arisen: the empire of the Arabs. So profound was this upheaval that it spelled, in effect, the end of the ancient world.

But the changes that marked the period were more than merely political or…


The Prose Edda

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

Book cover of The Prose Edda

Why this book?

For serious readers of Norse mythology, its origins in literature and early culture the Byock translation of the 13th-century text by Snorri Sturluson presents the Viking equivalent of Heroditus’ Histories of the Ancient Greeks and the religious texts of the Abrahamic religions. It’s a thrilling read and forms the basis of all modern versions of Viking legend. I still refer to this, years after first reading it.

The Prose Edda

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

Why should I read it?

5 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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Norse mythology, Islam, and Old Norse?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Norse mythology, Islam, and Old Norse.

Norse Mythology Explore 57 books about Norse mythology
Islam Explore 96 books about Islam
Old Norse Explore 14 books about Old Norse

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Nibelungenlied, Shahnameh, and Norse Mythology if you like this list.