100 books like Oxford Companion to World Mythology

By David Leeming,

Here are 100 books that Oxford Companion to World Mythology fans have personally recommended if you like Oxford Companion to World Mythology. 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 Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes

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 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.

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The poems of the Poetic Edda have waited a long time for a Modern English translation that would do them justice. Here it is at last (Odin be praised!) and well worth the wait. These amazing texts from a 13th-century Icelandic manuscript are of huge historical, mythological and literary importance, containing the lion's share of information that survives today about the gods and heroes of pre-Christian Scandinavians, their unique vision of the beginning and end of the world, etc. Jackson Crawford's modern versions of these poems are authoritative and fluent and often very gripping. With their individual headnotes and complementary…


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 Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

James Blachowicz Author Of The Bilateral Mind as the Mirror of Nature: A Metaphilosophy

From my list on the nature and capacities of our bilateral minds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had equally balanced interests in the arts/humanities and the natural sciences. I like to think that I inherited much of this from my analytical “algebraic” mother, who was a nurse and tended to our family finances, and my holistic “geometrical” father, who was a carpenter. It’s probably no accident that my double major in college was in physics and philosophy...and, down the line, that I should develop a focused interest in human brain laterality, where the division between analysis and holism is so prominent.

James' book list on the nature and capacities of our bilateral minds

James Blachowicz Why did James love this book?

This book, more than any other on the subject, surprised and fascinated me.

Its thesis is deceptively simple. It suggests that the two hemispheres of the human brain were “strangers” to each other early in our evolutionary history (three millennia ago). The left hemisphere received the information from the right as a message from an unfamiliar source (an unseen “voice”).

Jaynes proposed that this was the basis for all religious experience. It was our intuitive right hemisphere that supplied the “voices” of the gods. True human consciousness only arose when this bicameral mind “broke down” and the “voice of God” was replaced with what had been speaking to us all along, the other more intuitive half of ourselves.

By Julian Jaynes,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes's still-controversial thesis that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but instead is a learned process that came about only three thousand years ago and is still developing. The implications of this revolutionary scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion -- and indeed our future.


Book cover of Problems of the Future and Essays

Simon Clark Author Of Vampyrrhic

From my list on the development of the human mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father, a history teacher, often pointed out battlefields and scenes of historical importance when I was a child: so an ordinary-looking countryside became the place where knights in armor clashed, or where Viking longboats glided along a river. I grew up habitually overlying vivid scenes from the past on modern landscapes, all of which inspired me to write novels, including The Night of the Triffids, Blood Crazy, and Darkness Demands. Much of my fiction reflects my interest in the evolution of the human mind and how our minds are molded by the world we live in, hence my choice of the five books that I do wholeheartedly recommend for the eager adventurer in thought.

Simon's book list on the development of the human mind

Simon Clark Why did Simon love this book?

Published 1893, Laing considers all kinds of searching questions relating to astronomy, geology, spiritualism, poetry, taxation, finance, and much more. Clearly a possessor of a powerful intelligence, Laing endeavors to make sense of the universe and human life with the limited information he had at his disposal, compared to what we know today. How does the sun burn, he asks? Is it made from coal? A notion he dismisses with rational precision. Later, he considers the arms race from his nineteenth century viewpoint and uncannily predicts a “Great War” that will engulf most of Europe, with “Constantinople” being the likely catalyst of “the blood-rain deluges of the greatest war the world has ever seen”.

By Samuel Laing,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Problems of the Future and Essays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.


Book cover of The Soul of the Ape & My Friends the Baboons

Simon Clark Author Of Vampyrrhic

From my list on the development of the human mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father, a history teacher, often pointed out battlefields and scenes of historical importance when I was a child: so an ordinary-looking countryside became the place where knights in armor clashed, or where Viking longboats glided along a river. I grew up habitually overlying vivid scenes from the past on modern landscapes, all of which inspired me to write novels, including The Night of the Triffids, Blood Crazy, and Darkness Demands. Much of my fiction reflects my interest in the evolution of the human mind and how our minds are molded by the world we live in, hence my choice of the five books that I do wholeheartedly recommend for the eager adventurer in thought.

Simon's book list on the development of the human mind

Simon Clark Why did Simon love this book?

Early in the twentieth century, Marais studied a troop of baboons, studying their behavior, gaining insights into how this primate thinks, and, moreover, drawing conclusions about the development of the human psyche. Marais believed that the human unconscious mind, which he called “the subliminal soul” and which still “shapes our thoughts and actions”, is the ancient animal mentality, submerged beneath the evolution of the conscious mind. Therefore, he postulates, the hereditary mind that belonged to our pre-human ancestors is very much alive and well within us.

By Eugene Marais,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Soul of the Ape & My Friends the Baboons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eugene Marais spent three years living in the South African wilderness in close daily contact with a troop of baboons. He later described this as the happiest, most content time of his troubled life. This period produced two works which are testament to his research and conclusions; they have very different histories.

Firstly, there was a series of articles written in Afrikaans for the newspaper Die Vaderland. They were then published in book form under the title Burgers van die Berge, and were first published in an English translation in 1939 under the title My Friends the Baboons. These pieces…


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

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?

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.

By Neil Christopher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A collection of ancient Inuit myths. In this exhaustive story collection, the rich tradition of Inuit storytelling becomes accessible to the rest of Canada for the first time. Unipkaaqtut is the Inuit word meaning "to tell stories." This definitive collection of Inuit legends is thoughtfully introduced and carefully annotated to provide the historical and cultural context in which to understand this rich oral tradition. Read about the origin of thunder and lightning, the tale of the man who married a fox and many animal fables from the North. Fascinating and educational, this little-known part of Canada's heritage will captivate readers…


Book cover of The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

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?

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.

By Richard H. Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt, worshipped for over half of recorded history, are among the most fascinating and complex of any civilization. Here is a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the deities that lay at the heart of Egyptian religion and society. It examines the evolution, worship and eventual decline of the numerous gods and goddesses - from minor household figures such as Bes and Taweret to the all-powerful deities Amun and Re - that made Egypt the most completely theocratic society of the ancient world, and made Egyptians, according to Herodotus, 'more religious than any other people'.


Book cover of Gilgamesh

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?

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.

By Unknown, Stanley Lombardo (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This stirring new version of the great Babylonian epic includes material from the recently discovered "monkey tablet" as well as an Introduction, timeline, glossary, and correspondences between lines of the translation and those of the original texts. "A comprehensive Introduction with a light touch (Beckman), a poetic rendering with verve and moxie (Lombardo): This edition of the colossal Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic should satisfy all readers who seek to plumb its wealth and depth without stumbling over its many inconvenient gaps and cruxes. A fine gift to all lovers of great literature." -Jack M. Sasson, Emeritus Professor, Vanderbilt University and The…


Book cover of The Bestiary: A Book of Beasts

Stephen R. Wilk Author Of Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon

From my list on the unexpected truths behind myths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a scientist, engineer, and writer who has written on a wide range of topics. I’ve been fascinated by mythology my entire life, and I spent over a decade gathering background material on the myth of Perseus and Medusa, and came away with a new angle on the origin and meaning of the myth and what inspired it. I was unable to present this in a brief letter or article, and so decided to turn my arguments into a book. The book is still in print, and has been cited numerous times by scholarly journals and books. It formed the basis for the History Channel series Clash of the Gods (in which I appear).

Stephen's book list on the unexpected truths behind myths

Stephen R. Wilk Why did Stephen love this book?

Terence Hanbury White is famous for writing The Sword in the Stone, The Once and Future King, and The Book of Merlin, all about King Arthur and his court. But he wrote many other books, both fiction and nonfiction.

This book is a translation of a Medieval bestiary, filled with strange animals like the Unicorn, the Dragon, the Phoenix, and the Amphisbaena. As White points out, the book was not meant as a mere rainy-day diversion, but was a serious attempt to catalog the animals of the world and how they related to man and the world.

White, a believer in the high knowledge and science of the often belittle Middle Ages, provides extensive footnotes showing that many of the apparently fantastic creatures and behaviors documented in the Bestiary do, indeed, have factual roots.

The Basilisk might stem from an imperfectly understood description of the King Cobra,…

By T H White,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

ASIN: 0399500340


Book cover of Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms

George Jreije Author Of Shad Hadid and the Alchemists of Alexandria

From my list on diverse heroes in children’s fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an avid reader and writer of children’s literature, though I find it difficult to read anything that isn’t diverse these days. Being able to experience the world from the perspectives of other cultures is a true delight, and I learn something every time. After having read dozens of these diverse books, especially diverse fantasies, I find that nothing inspires my creative soul more. That’s why I’m able to speak on this topic for large conferences and schools, spreading this inspiration to others. And, as a published author of diverse children’s literature, I’ve done the same in my writing with praise from Kirkus, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and many others.

George's book list on diverse heroes in children’s fantasy

George Jreije Why did George love this book?

Cameron Battle has to be one of the most tenderhearted characters I’ve ever read.

He’s a sweetheart, and just the right hero for this African-inspired fantasy as Cameron portals with his friends into the world of Chidani. There are dangers at every turn, but Cameron handles them all by trusting in his friends, his compassion, and his desire to learn what happened to his parents.

Along the way, I was inspired by Cameron learning more about his family ancestry as well as his own identity.

By Jamar J. Perry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Percy Jackson meets Black Panther - this blockbuster middle-grade fantasy adventure is perfect for fans of Amari and the Night Brothers. Cameron Battle grew up reading The Book of Chidani, cherishing stories about the fabled kingdom that cut itself off from the world to save the Igbo people from danger. Passed down over generations, the Book is Cameron's only connection to his parents, who disappeared one fateful night two years ago. Ever since, his grandmother has kept the Book locked away, but it calls to Cameron. When he and his best friends, Zion and Aliyah, decide to open it again,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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