The most recommended books on Beowulf

Who picked these books? Meet our 22 experts.

22 authors created a book list connected to Beowulf, and here are their favorite Beowulf books.
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Book cover of Winters in the World: A Journey through the Anglo-Saxon Year

Michael P. Foley Author Of Dining with the Saints: The Sinner's Guide to a Righteous Feast

From Michael's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Professor Theologian Mixologist

Michael's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Michael P. Foley Why did Michael love this book?

Winters in the World is among the best history books that I have ever read. Eleanor Parker is a fine scholar of Anglo-Saxon literature as well as a master storyteller.

In Winters, she explains the ingenious ways in which the once-pagan Anglo-Saxons adapted their legends and their perceptions of the year to their Christian faith, creating a calendar that is “at one and the same time firmly rooted in Anglo-Saxon culture and fully part of the wider international church”. To some extent, the result of this remarkable inculturation remains with us today.

After reading this book, you won’t look at the seasons the same way ever again.

By Eleanor Parker,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Winters in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winters in the World is a beautifully observed journey through the cycle of the year in Anglo-Saxon England, exploring the festivals, customs and traditions linked to the different seasons. Drawing on a wide variety of source material, including poetry, histories and religious literature, Eleanor Parker investigates how Anglo-Saxons felt about the annual passing of the seasons and the profound relationship they saw between human life and the rhythms of nature.
Many of the festivals we celebrate in Britain today have their roots in the Anglo-Saxon period, and this book traces their surprising history, as well as unearthing traditions now long…


Book cover of Nico Bravo and the Hound of Hades

Mike Lawrence Author Of Star Scouts

From my list on to hear your kids laugh out loud.

Who am I?

I’m a stay-at-home working dad, and have handed my boys countless books to keep them entertained so I could get some work done. There’s something magical about giving your kid a book that sparks their love of reading. In my own experience, adventure books that made my boys laugh out loud would captivate my kids for hours…and keep them out of my hair.

Mike's book list on to hear your kids laugh out loud

Mike Lawrence Why did Mike love this book?

Usually I pick out books for my kids, not this one though. My youngest picked this up at the library and loved it so much he told me that I just had to read it, and I’m glad I did! I love mythology and Cavallaro did such a great job taking classic myths and monsters and turning them on their head. Plus, there’s a sword that teleports your enemy’s skeleton into outer space, how great is that?!

By Mike Cavallaro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nico Bravo and the Hound of Hades 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?

Got a problem? At Vulcan's Celestial Supply Shop, you can find the magical merchandise to set things right. The seasoned staff-a kid named Nico Bravo, a sphynx named Lula, and a unicorn named Buck-pride themselves on providing "legendary service and expertise in all areas of the arcane."

But Nico's world is about to be turned upside down, and it's all thanks his latest customer: Eowulf, the pint-size descendant of the monster slayer Beowulf. Determined to carry on the family business, this would-be warrior plans to slay Cerberus, the terrifying, three-headed hound of Hades.

There's just one problem-Cerberus is the only…


Book cover of Silverlock

Marva Dasef Author Of The Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim

From my list on combining magic with the mundane.

Who am I?

I'm a normal human being who fell in love with the world of magic and fantasy at an early age. My favorite and first books comprised a multi-volume set of fairy tales, legends, and mythology. At the University of Oregon, my dual degree in English and Computer science taught me how to write and also provided a 35-year career in the burgeoning world of personal computers and software. I'm retired but now I write what I love—fantasy, fairy tales, magic. I have 12 published books, 9 of those also in audio format. The boring details: I was born in Eugene, Oregon and now live there in retirement.

Marva's book list on combining magic with the mundane

Marva Dasef Why did Marva love this book?

Most people don't even know about this book. Written in 1946, it's just a little older than I am. I read it years ago and was delighted by Myers' world woven from existing fantasy and legend. I also use what has worked before to make my own books both familiar and new. How convenient when you have a perfectly fantastic cauldron of long-held material completely free for the taking. I, as did Myers, took full advantage of the vast pool of wonderful existing ideas. “Silverlock” certainly showed me I could freely dip from the pool and just twist it a bit to fit my own tale.

By John Myers Myers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

John Myers Myers transports the reader to a world where a shipwrecked American can sing songs with Robin Hood, feast with Beowulf and ride the river in a raft stolen from Huck Finn - or be attacked by Don Quixote, challenged to a beheading contest and turned into a pig by Circe.


Book cover of The Magic Faraway Tree: The Enchanted Wood: Book 1

Tracey Warr Author Of Almodis: The Peaceweaver

From Tracey's 7-year-old's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Swimmer Reader Medieval history researcher Independent publisher

Tracey's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Tracey's 2, and 7-year-old's favorite books.

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey's 7-year-old love this book?

He loves this amazing story about a tall tree with holes in it that look like doors and indeed they are doors that open into a different magical world in each chapter.

He loves all the extraordinary characters he meets in the book, including tinman and moonman. He made his own model figure of the saucepan man as a project for school.

By Enid Blyton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Magic Faraway Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

The first magical story in the Faraway Tree series by one of the world's most popular children's authors, Enid Blyton.

Joe, Beth and Frannie find the Enchanted Wood on the doorstep of their new home, and when they discover the Faraway Tree they fall into all sorts of adventures!

Join them and their friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree. Will it be the Land of Spells, the Land of Treats, or the Land of Do-As-You-Please? Discover the magic!

First published in 1939, this edition…


Book cover of The Legendary Inge

M. L. Farb Author Of Vasilisa

From my list on based on lesser known folk and fairytales.

Who am I?

One of my favorite sections in the library is the collections of folk and fairy tales. Especially the lesser-known tales. My novel, Vasilisa, is inspired by the Russian folktale Vasilisa and Staver, plus my question of “how did Vasilisa get so strong?” I love combining folk tales with extensive research of the culture and history of their settings, as well as delving into characters who have vastly different experiences than mine. And I love reading character and detail-rich novelizations of traditional tales. It was difficult to pick only five novels based on lesser-known fairy tales. Enjoy, then go find some others!

M. L.'s book list on based on lesser known folk and fairytales

M. L. Farb Why did M. L. love this book?

I literally guffawed as I read this—enough times that my kids begged me to read it to them (which I did). This retelling of Beowulf played with expectations, twisting and turning in unexpected ways. The characters were fully fleshed out, with plenty of faults and quirks. No one was who I thought they were. Intrigue, magic, and stubborn independence mixed to make this delightful tale. 

By Kate Stradling,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Plagued by misfortune, Ingrid Norling treks into the woods to clear her head. She emerges a monster-slayer, the shaken executioner of a creature so ferocious that even the king's strongest warriors could not destroy it. In a land that reveres swords and worships strength, this accidental heroism earns Inge an audience at court and an ill-fated prize: King Halvard impulsively adopts her and names her as his heir.

Under constant guard to prevent her escape, Inge confronts the ignoble underbelly of the royal court: a despotic king, a clueless princess, a proud warrior, and a dangerous intrigue. As secrets unravel…


Book cover of Grendel

Alison Levy Author Of Magic By Any Other Name

From my list on a mythical creature’s point of view.

Who am I?

I love mythological creatures! I grew up gravitating toward fantasy books but because I have a narcissistic parent, I got teased for reading them. To avoid the teasing, I ended up reading a lot of mythology because that was a “safe” fantasy option; reading mythology was “educational” rather than “silly.”  When I got older, I discovered that there’s a whole category of fantasy books that retell myths from alternative points of view. This subgenre opened new doors of understanding and empathy for me. Reading old stories from new perspectives opens my eyes to a myriad of different types of people and broadens my view of the world. And I’ve been reading them ever since.

Alison's book list on a mythical creature’s point of view

Alison Levy Why did Alison love this book?

Grendel is the original monster from English literature who killed many warriors and did battle with Beowulf. 

This poignant book tells the story from his point of view. It’s never completely clear what Grendel is, only that he seems to exist somewhere between humans and beasts. He is frustrated by how emotionally drawn he is to the singing he hears in the humans’ mead hall but is equally frustrated by the stupidity of the animals he encounters. 

He knows from first-hand experience how cruel men can be but because he is so alone in the world, he can’t stop himself from seeking them out. Reading this book is a hard look at loneliness, a long walk at the side of a creature whose very existence is painful.  

By John Gardner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This classic and much lauded retelling of Beowulf follows the monster Grendel as he learns about humans and fights the war at the center of the Anglo Saxon classic epic.

"An extraordinary achievement."—New York Times

The first and most terrifying monster in English literature, from the great early epic Beowulf, tells his own side of the story in this frequently banned book. This is the novel William Gass called "one of the finest of our contemporary fictions."


Book cover of Beowulf for Cretins: A Love Story

Alaina Erdell Author Of Off the Menu

From my list on sapphic romances to make you swoon.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading sapphic or lesbian romances ever since I got my hands on Touchwood and Curious Wine decades ago. When not writing contemporary sapphic romances, I’m always reading them. Happily ever afters haven’t always been the case for two women in love, least of all in fiction. I write sapphic romances to provide for other women like me what I hoped to find in bookstores when I was younger. It wasn’t easy to find a romantic story between two women, let alone have choices. Representation matters, and writing–and reading–books about two women in love is important to me and women like me, especially as states ban such books.

Alaina's book list on sapphic romances to make you swoon

Alaina Erdell Why did Alaina love this book?

Whether writing fiction or romance, McMan’s ability to paint a love story between two women is unparalleled. Their love materializes on the page as if watching an artist apply strokes to a painting. By the time the figures emerge from the canvas, my heart is invested. 

In Beowulf for Cretins, what appears to be an anonymous one-night stand for Grace simply isn’t when Abbie turns out to be her new boss. (Side note: look how nicely McMan is stacking up much-loved tropes here.)

This story contains elements that make my sapphic heart swoon every time, like when one character just can’t stay away from the other or when characters share the same interests. Throw in McMan’s signature humor and an entertaining pet, and swoon-worthy gets extra credit bonus points.

By Ann McMan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Beowulf for Cretins: A Love Story was awarded the 2019 Lambda Literary Award in the Lesbian Romance category.

English professor and aspiring novelist, Grace Warner spends her days teaching four sections of "Beowulf for Cretins" to bored and disinterested students at one of New England's “hidden ivy” colleges. Not long after she is dumped by her longtime girlfriend, Grace meets the engaging and mysterious Abbie on a cross-country flight. Sparks fly on and off the plane as the two strangers give in to one night of reckless passion with no strings attached, and no contact information exchanged.

Back home at…


Book cover of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons: Volume 1 1955-1977

Brett Bourbon Author Of Everyday Poetics: Logic, Love, and Ethics

From my list on the ethics and art of getting lost and being found.

Who am I?

Poems irritated me as a child. They seemed parodies of counting, chants of rhythm, and repetition. I included them in my moratorium against reading fiction. On the other hand, I respected the alphabet, a kind of poem of pure form. It was orderly for no good reason and didn't mean anything. So I concluded that poems were meaningless forms that had their uses, but were not serious. I changed my mind, but it took a while—studying math and science, theology, and then philosophy and literature. I'm now a professor who studies and teaches modern literature and philosophy. I got my Ph.D. from Harvard, became a professor at Stanford, and teach at the University of Dallas.

Brett's book list on the ethics and art of getting lost and being found

Brett Bourbon Why did Brett love this book?

I could suggest any number of poems and poets of our everyday fate of being lost and found. But for me the modern poet who best integrates the eye seeing with the mind questioning is the great A.R. Ammons.

I have listed just Volume 1 of his collected poems, but I also recommend Volume 2. He writes out of a consciousness that poems are found and shaped out of a life of observation, effort, and passion.

By A. R. Ammons, Robert M. West (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A.R. Ammons produced some of the twentieth century's most innovative and enduring poetry, collected here for the first time in its entirety. Volume I follows Ammons's development through his National Book Award-winning Collected Poems 1951-1971 and his daring work of the 1970s. The second volume rounds out Ammons's rich middle phase and startling later work, including the posthumously published Bosh and Flapdoodle.

The Complete Poems of A.R. Ammons offers authoritative texts of every published poem and includes over one hundred previously uncollected poems by "unquestionably among the best-loved poets of our time" (David Lehman).


Book cover of Eaters of the Dead

Golda Mowe Author Of Iban Journey

From my list on to experience life-changing adventures.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated with travel and adventure stories since I read The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I finished a whole Walter Scott book; with a dictionary balanced on one knee because Jeanie Deans decides to walk from Edinburgh to London. Romance? Bah! Humbug! I’d rather journey into The Heart of Darkness, follow the hobbits to Mount Doom, or ride a sandworm with Paul Atreides. Show me a lone traveler thrown into the middle of an unfamiliar, confusing culture and you have my full attention. Naturally, when I started typing out my first manuscript, it just had to be a fantasy adventure about an Iban headhunter.

Golda's book list on to experience life-changing adventures

Golda Mowe Why did Golda love this book?

This book is a re-interpretation of the epic saga of Beowulf, re-imagining him as a real-life hero who fought in a historical human world. The magic of this story is that it is hard to tell where facts end and story begins. Ahmad, the narrator, is opinionated in a dry and pedagogic way. He complains about many things but, like a true traveler, refuses little. Even though he regales us with his sense of superiority, his outward manner is meek and passive which helps him get along with the Northmen. Please don’t read this book in a public library if you do not want to be shush-ed. Some of Ahmad’s commentaries on Viking life have sent me into loud, sudden guffaws. 

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Eaters of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Eaters of the Dead is a brilliant, stirring tale of historical adventure which deserves a place on readers bookshelves alongside Michael Crichton's bestselling techno-thrillers.

It is AD922 and Ibn Fadlan is sent north from Baghdad as a peaceful ambassador. But before he reaches his destination, he falls in with some Vikings and when they are attacked by mystical bloodthirsty creatures in the midst of a terrible fog, he reluctantly agrees to become the prophesied 13th warrior in order for them to survive.

Later turned into a major Hollywood film, Eaters of the Dead is an imaginative and breathlessly exciting…


Book cover of When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth

Patrick Nunn Author Of The Edge of Memory: Ancient Stories, Oral Tradition and the Post-Glacial World

From my list on ancient oral traditions.

Who am I?

Becoming immersed in oral cultures was a massive wake-up call for me! Taught to privilege the written over the spoken word, as most literate people are, it took me years of living in the Pacific Islands, travelling regularly to their remoter parts, to appreciate that people who could neither read nor write could retain huge amounts of information in their heads – and explain it effortlessly. We undervalue orality because we are literate, but that is an irrational prejudice. And as I have discovered from encounters with oral traditions throughout Australia and the Pacific, India, and northwest Europe, not only are oral traditions extensive but may be thousands of years old.

Patrick's book list on ancient oral traditions

Patrick Nunn Why did Patrick love this book?

When I first read this book, not only was I struck by its central theme that ‘myths’ have meaning but also by the fact that it is our problem that we cannot today recognize myths for what they once were. All oral traditions evolve through time, sometimes over thousands of years and across hundreds of generations of retelling, but if their core is sufficiently memorable, then it can remain recognizable. It is up to us to unpack the stories we hear today, to learn how they changed through time, and try to see whether there is an empirical core in their hearts. This book is a must for anyone interested in learning more about the meaning of ‘myth’ rather than romanticizing it.

By Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Paul T. Barber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When They Severed Earth from Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don't exist? Strange though they sound, however, these "myths" did not begin as fiction. This absorbing book shows that myths originally transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies. Geologists' interpretations of how a volcanic cataclysm long ago created Oregon's Crater Lake, for example, is echoed point for point in the…