100 books like Myth

By David Leeming,

Here are 100 books that Myth fans have personally recommended if you like Myth. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Robert B. Marks Author Of Re: Apotheosis

From my list on writing for new (and even established) fiction writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing is in my blood – my grandmother wrote poetry, my mother writes novels, and over the last twenty-plus years I’ve written just about everything (and now I teach writing at my local university). I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. While my fiction career may be newly revived, I spent over 20 years as a pop culture commentator, poking at the minutia of the stories I love. I think stories may be one of the most important things in our culture – they inspire us, they brighten our day, they bring us to tears, and sometimes when we are lost they show us the way.

Robert's book list on writing for new (and even established) fiction writers

Robert B. Marks Why did Robert love this book?

This will be one of my more controversial picks – there are plenty of people who disagree with Campbell as a folklorist, a mythographer, and with his depiction of the Hero’s Journey. But, what is important about Campbell is his exploration of why the elements that appear in stories have the impact they do on our psyche, and how they fit together. One may not agree with all of Campbell’s conclusions, but I don’t think there’s a writer out there who won’t benefit from his exploration of the subject. I know I did.

By Joseph Campbell,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Hero with a Thousand Faces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joseph Campbell's classic cross-cultural study of the hero's journey has inspired millions and opened up new areas of research and exploration. Originally published in 1949, the book hit the New York Times best-seller list in 1988 when it became the subject of The Power of Myth, a PBS television special. The first popular work to combine the spiritual and psychological insights of modern psychoanalysis with the archetypes of world mythology, the book creates a roadmap for navigating the frustrating path of contemporary life. Examining heroic myths in the light of modern psychology, it considers not only the patterns and stages…

Book cover of The History of the Kings of Britain

Nicholas J. Higham Author Of King Arthur: The Making of the Legend

From my list on the origins of King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a university historian and archaeologist my focus has been the Early Middle Ages. In the 1990s I wrote several books about the fifth and sixth centuries which barely mentioned Arthur but popular histories and films based on his story just kept coming, so I decided to look again at his story and work out how and why it developed as it did. I have published three well-received books on the subject, each of which builds on the one before, plus articles that have been invited to be included in edited volumes. I disagree with much in the five books above but collectively they reflect the debate across my lifetime. It is a great debate, I hope you enjoy it. 

Nicholas' book list on the origins of King Arthur

Nicholas J. Higham Why did Nicholas love this book?

Geoffrey’s History of the Kings is the work that picked Arthur up from the somewhat obscure backwater of Welsh story-telling and launched him onto the European stage, in the process creating a story that had an enormous influence on how the insular past was understood across the rest of the Middle Ages. Geoffrey was writing for the new Norman elite, who welcomed a view of the past which downplayed the Anglo-Saxons and centred instead on their rivals for control of ancient Britain, the Britons. He based his magnificent new work on the Historia Brittonum, a set of Welsh genealogies and various stories, all of which he embroidered from his own fertile imagination to construct a complex vision of insular history no closer to what had really happened than modern works such as Lord of the Rings or Star Wars

But by tapping into political and cultural needs in…

By Geoffrey of Monmouth, Neil Wright (translator), Michael D. Reeve (editor)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The History of the Kings of Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This imaginative history of the Britons, written in the twelfth century, is the first work to recount the woes of Lear and the glittering career of Arthur. It rapidly became a bestseller in the British Isles and Francophone Europe, with over 200 manuscripts surviving. Here, an authoritative version of the text is presented with a facing translation, prepared especially for the volume. It also contains a full introduction and notes.

MICHAEL REEVEis Kennedy Professor of Latin Emeritus at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge; Dr NEIL WRIGHT is a Senior Language Teaching Officer at the Faculty of History, University…

Book cover of The Quest of the Holy Grail

Graeme Davis Author Of Thor: Viking God of Thunder

From my list on mythology and its impact on the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Graeme Davis has been fascinated by myth and folklore ever since he saw Ray Harryhausen’s creatures in Jason and the Argonauts as a child. While studying archaeology at Durham University, he became far too involved with a new game called Dungeons & Dragons and went on to a career in fantasy games. He has written game sourcebooks on various ancient cultures and their myths, and worked as a researcher and consultant on multiple video games with historical and mythological settings.

Graeme's book list on mythology and its impact on the world

Graeme Davis Why did Graeme love this book?

This is an early example of mythology being used for a deliberate purpose: in this case, the promotion of Christian chivalric virtue. Full of dreamlike images and allegories, it also had a great influence on early fantasy writing, even if those creating early fantasy tales had never read it. And then, of course, there’s Monty Python.

By Unknown, Pauline M. Matarasso (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quest of the Holy Grail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Composed by an unknown author in early thirteenth-century France, The Quest of the Holy Grail is a fusion of Arthurian legend and Christian symbolism, reinterpreting ancient Celtic myth as a profound spiritual fable. It recounts the quest of the knights of Camelot - the simple Perceval, the thoughtful Bors, the rash Gawain, the weak Lancelot and the saintly Galahad - as they journey through danger and temptation to reach the elusive Holy Grail. But only one of them is judged worthy to see the mysteries within the sacred vessel, and look upon the ineffable. Enfused with tragic grandeur and an…

Book cover of Holy Blood, Holy Grail

Karen Martin Author Of The Bringer of Happiness

From my list on writing about death, religion, and spirituality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Our history is spoken through the voice of the conqueror – notably white male. My work seeks to balance our narratives through insight from women’s perspectives. I support my creative writing with extensive research in history, archeology, and myths, and include in situ interpretations of the relevant landscape. There are many truths to be told, not simply one ordained story and I wish to shine the light on stories that have been hidden and/or silenced. The themed series title, Women Unveiled, pertains to this.

Karen's book list on writing about death, religion, and spirituality

Karen Martin Why did Karen love this book?

I first read this book while at university. I re-read it after touring the Langue d’Òc region of France focusing on the folklore surrounding Mary Magdalene. This book advances the hypothesis that the historical Jesus married Mary Magdalene and travelled to the south of France, where their children married into nobility and established what became known as the Merovingian dynasty. This book provided a source of information as well as support, given my subject matter and the two entwining histories: the biblical era of Jesus and the 13th C siege of Montsegur. Its extensive bibliography provided a rich source of research, including academic articles, essays, and books.

By Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Holy Blood, Holy Grail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is the traditional, accepted view of the life of Christ in some way incomplete?

• Is it possible Christ did not die on the cross?
• Is it possible Jesus was married, a father, and that his bloodline still exists?
• Is it possible that parchments found in the South of France a century ago reveal one of the best-kept secrets of Christendom?
• Is it possible that these parchments contain the very heart of the mystery of the Holy Grail?

According to the authors of this extraordinarily provocative, meticulously researched book, not only are these things possible — they…

Book cover of Hamlet's Mill: An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge and Its Transmissions Through Myth

Hal Johnson Author Of Impossible Histories: The Soviet Republic of Alaska, the United States of Hudsonia, President Charlemagne, and Other Pivotal Moments of History That Never Happened

From my list on irresponsible history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m probably too dishonest to write a real non-fiction book, but the sort of non-fiction book that has some wiggle room for me to “improve” on reality when I think it needs tightening up, or a little more schmaltz—that’s the strange twilight area the books I write live in, and all irresponsible history books dwell in this neighborhood. Remember, kids, as long as you make it clear when you’re lying, it still counts as non-fiction! 

Hal's book list on irresponsible history

Hal Johnson Why did Hal love this book?

GdS and HvD have assembled in this book such an overwhelming superflux of fascinating tidbits about ancient history, literature, and myth that reading it you barely notice that every conclusion they come to is completely bonkers and necessarily false.

There really can’t be any connection between ancient civilizations in Polynesia, Mesoamerica, India, and Finland—but the fact that someone dug up stories about whirlpools (!) from each place and located points of convergence among them is amazing! 
I feel like such a killjoy even bringing up my objections (that cloud doesn’t really look like a castle! that Rorschach blot doesn’t really look like your mother!) that I’ll just shut up. Hamlet’s Mill is a great work of science fiction, the most exhaustively detailed what if? you’re likely to find.

By Giorgio De Santillana, Hertha Von Dechend,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A truly seminal and original thesis, this is a book that should be read by anyone interested in science, myth, and the interactions between the two. In this classic work of scientific and philosophical inquiry, the authors track world myths to a common origin in early man's descriptions of cosmological activity, arguing that these remnants of ancient astronomy, suppressed by the Greeks and Romans and then forgotten, were really a form of pre-literate science. Myth became the synapse by which science was transmitted. Their truly original thesis challenges basic assumptions of Western science and theories about the transmission of knowledge.

Book cover of A Short History of Myth

Stephen Palmer Author Of Beautiful Intelligence

From my list on that explain the mystery of consciousness.

Why am I passionate about this?

For thirty-five years I’ve studied and written about consciousness, the evolution of the mind, and the development of human social and cultural forms. I think we’re all fascinated by who we are and why we have minds. In my case, that fundamental question, which we must all answer in some way during our lives, has become a drive to bridge our theory of consciousness with a full description of the human condition. I believe we cannot progress ethically without such a bridge. Although in my novels I don’t usually write explicitly on such themes, they’re always present, providing the framework in which my characters live their lives.

Stephen's book list on that explain the mystery of consciousness

Stephen Palmer Why did Stephen love this book?

I remember reading this slim volume for the first time and being amazed by its clarity. For elegance and power of explanation, it is impossible to beat. For me, it was the bridge between my understanding of the individual human mind and minds in societies and in culture—especially ancient and prehistoric societies. I have always been fascinated by the evolution of the mind, and books that dare to deal with that topic are rare indeed. This one stunned me with its sophisticated descriptions of the types of myth we use throughout our lives, a sophistication matched with clarity of vision rarely put down on paper. It has always been a profound inspiration to the themes of my novels.

By Karen Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Short History of Myth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As long as we have been human, we have been mythmakers. In A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong holds up the mirror of mythology to show us the history of ourselves, and embarks on a journey that begins at a Neanderthal graveside and ends buried in the heart of the modern novel.

Surprising, powerful and profound, A Short History of Myth examines the world's most ancient art form - the making and telling of stories - and why we still need it.

The Myths series brings together some of the world's finest writers, each of whom has retold a…

Book cover of Oxford Companion to World Mythology

Jordanna Max Brodsky Author Of The Wolf in the Whale

From my list on mythology books beyond the Greeks.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Jordanna's book list on mythology books beyond the Greeks

Jordanna Max Brodsky Why did Jordanna love 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.

By David Leeming,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Oxford Companion to World Mythology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cave paintings at Lascaux, France and Altamira, Spain, fraught with expression thousands of years later; point to an early human desire to form a cultural identity. In The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, David Leeming explores the role of mythology, or myth-logic, in history and determines that the dreams of specific cultures add up to a larger collective story of humanity. Stopping short of attempting to be all-inclusive, this fascinating volume will
nonetheless be comprehensive, opening with an introduction exploring the nature and dimensions of myth and proposing a definition as a universal language. Briefly dipping into the ways our…

Book cover of The Power of Myth

Michele DeMarco Author Of Holding Onto Air: The Art and Science of Building a Resilient Spirit

From my list on transforming your mental and spiritual health.

Why am I passionate about this?

Officially, I’m an award-winning author and specialist in the fields of psychology, trauma, and spirituality. I’m also a professionally trained therapist, clinical ethicist, and researcher. Ultimately, I’m an ardent believer that the same life that brings us joy also (sometimes) brings us pain. More importantly, that every aspect of life has a role to play in making us who we are today and who we’ll be tomorrow. We don’t always have control over the events in life, but the script we live by is ours to write—and write it we must, as only we can. I’m also a three-time heart attack survivor.

Michele's book list on transforming your mental and spiritual health

Michele DeMarco Why did Michele love this book?

This book has long been a favorite of spiritual seekers, with its sweeping panoply of stories from antiquity’s gods and goddesses to the world’s wisdom traditions and more.

This is a book for those interested in the universality of human experience across time and culture—which I am. But even more, it opens our minds to the importance of a story itself.

Campbell helps readers understand that truth and fact are different—indeed, there are several kinds of truth: empirical truth, which depends on objective data, and also mythopoetic and narrative truth, which rely on symbols and stories to provide meaning.

By Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Power of Myth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • An extraordinary book that reveals how the themes and symbols of ancient narratives continue to bring meaning to birth, death, love, and war.

The Power of Myth launched an extraordinary resurgence of interest in Joseph Campbell and his work. A preeminent scholar, writer, and teacher, he has had a profound influence on millions of people—including Star Wars creator George Lucas. To Campbell, mythology was the “song of the universe, the music of the spheres.” With Bill Moyers, one of America’s most prominent journalists, as his thoughtful and engaging interviewer, The Power of Myth touches on subjects from…

Book cover of The Origins of the World's Mythologies

Rob Swigart Author Of Mixed Harvest: Stories from the Human Past

From my list on science with fiction yet are not entirely either.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was an avid reader of science fiction as a teenager and developed a love of science and how elegantly and yet how alive and ever-changing it is as we learn more. It explains the world. I couldn’t settle on any one field: physics, biology, neuroscience, astronomy, geology? So I began a writing career where I could draw on my faithful reading of Science News and popular science books. Scientific inaccuracies in fiction still irritate me (don’t get me started), and to the best of my ability Ι ground stories in what we know with some confidence, though science will always be a moving target. My recent book, Mixed Harvest, embeds fiction in archaeology and anthropology.

Rob's book list on science with fiction yet are not entirely either

Rob Swigart Why did Rob love this book?

A controversial, scholarly attempt at synthesizing and organizing the foundations of world mythologies may seem a strange selection. It’s certainly an enormous task, and Witzel could be wrong, but this sweeping book tantalizes and enriches any open mind with an interest in mankind’s story on Earth: two great separate migrations out of Africa carried differing concepts of the world’s origins. The first made its way around India to Australia. In this story, the world had no origin, it always existed in Dreamtime. Mankind emerged into time and joined all creatures and their landscapes. The second migration into Europe and Asia brought the foundations of Western traditions. The story is more familiar: an all-powerful deity created the world out of chaos or primordial waters, fashioned and breathed life into human beings, and thrust them into a world of constant struggle and conflict. If for some reason that doesn't sound familiar, reread…

By E.J. Michael Witzel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Origins of the World's Mythologies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this comprehensive book Michael Witzel persuasively demonstrates the prehistoric origins of most of the mythologies of Eurasia and the Americas ('Laurasia'). By comparing these myths with others indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, Melanesia, and Australia ('Gondwana Land') Witzel is able to access some of the earliest myths told by humans. The Laurasian mythologies share a common story line that dates the world's creation to a mythic time and recounts the fortunes
of generations of deities across four or five ages and human beings' creation and fall, culminating in the end of the universe and, occasionally, hope for a new world.…

Book cover of Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature

Michelle L. Lute

From my list on American wild canids.

Why am I passionate about this?

Michelle Lute is a conservation scientist and advocate with fifteen years’ experience in biodiversity conservation on public and private lands around the globe. She dedicates her professional life to promoting human-wildlife coexistence through effective public engagement, equitable participatory processes, and evidence-based decision-making. Michelle is the National Carnivore Conservation Manager for Project Coyote whose mission is to promote compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science and advocacy.

Michelle's book list on American wild canids

Michelle L. Lute Why did Michelle love this book?

Wolves may be more prevalent in literature and film than they are in reality. For an ecocritical perspective on canid cameos in American narrative, Robisch examines 200 texts to understand the real and imagined wolves and their places across cultures and what that tells us about humans and nature more broadly.

By S.K. Robisch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book presents a new perspective on the role of the wolf in American literature. The wolf is one of the most widely distributed canid species, historically ranging throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere. For millennia, it has also been one of the most pervasive images in human mythology, art, and psychology. ""Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature"" examines the wolf's importance as a figure in literature from the perspectives of both the animal's physical reality and the ways in which writers imagine and portray it. Author S. K. Robisch examines more than two hundred texts written in…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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