The best Greek mythology books

21 authors have picked their favorite books about Greek mythology and why they recommend each book.

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Metamorphoses

By Ovid, Allen Mandelbaum (translator),

Book cover of Metamorphoses

Ancient Roman poet Ovid gives us the definitive versions of nearly 250 different myths, most involving transformations of men and women into beasts, trees, or flowers. If that sounds dull, know that there’s more incest than Game of Thrones and more bloody mutilation than a Quentin Tarantino flick. Some tales, like that of Orpheus and Eurydice, are well-known. Others, like the story of the fleet-footed Atalanta, should be. For anyone interested in writing their own story inspired by Greek myth, Ovid’s Metamorphoses provides an invaluable source of inspiration. Read Allen Mandelbaum’s excellent poetic translation for the most authentic experience.

Metamorphoses

By Ovid, Allen Mandelbaum (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Through National Book Award-winning translator Allen Mandelbaum's poetic artistry, this gloriously entertaining achievement of literature — classical myths filtered through the worldly and far from reverent sensibility of the Roman poet Ovid — is revealed anew.Savage and sophisticated, mischievious and majestic, witty and wicked, The Metamorphoses weaves together every major mythological story to display a dazzling array of miraculous changes, from the time chaos is transformed into order at the moment of creation, to the time when the soul of Julius Caeser is turned into a star and set in the heavens. In its earthiness, its psychological acuity, this classic…


Who am I?

Jordanna Max Brodsky is the author of the Olympus Bound trilogy 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.


I wrote...

The Immortals

By Jordanna Max Brodsky,

Book cover of The Immortals

What is my book about?

Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself. In the predawn calm, Selene DiSilva finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns, along with the memory of a promise she made long ago—when her name was Artemis. 

The Immortals reimagines the Greek Gods in a modern Manhattan backdrop to create a pulse-pounding blend of myth and mystery.

The Greek Myths

By Robert Graves,

Book cover of The Greek Myths

This is the best collection of the Greek Myths I believe, and of course covers the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, the direct inspiration for my book. In the classical myth the poet and musician Orpheus loses his love, Eurydice, and sings his way into Hades, overcoming all opposition, until even Hades agrees to let him have Eurydice back in the living world, so long as he does not look back at her until returned there. Once in daylight he does look back, and loses her forever as she hasn't stepped into daylight too. However, unlike Orpheus my young hero succeeds.

The Greek Myths

By Robert Graves,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Robert Graves's classic retelling of the Greek Myths is definitive, comprehensive and unparalleled - and available now in the Penguin Classics Deluxe series, featuring a new introduction from Rick Riordan (bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and Olympian series).

Including many of the greatest stories ever told - the labours of Hercules, the voyage of the Argonauts, Theseus and the minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War and Odysseus's journey home - Robert Graves's superb and comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version.

With…


Who am I?

I don't write within received categories: our lives aren't lived in categories, but are full of varying realities, whether of home, childhood, marriage, parenthood, fantasy, dream, work, or relaxation, and more all mixed together. I can't write in any other way, however dominant a particular strand or age may be on the surface in a given work. Orpheus Rising may have a child hero, and a fantastic, elegant Edwardian Elephant as a spirit guide, but it let me tell a story of love lost and regained, of family broken and remade, of a father in despair and remade, themes of real importance in any life.


I wrote...

Orpheus Rising: By Sam And His Father John With Some Help From A Very Wise Elephant Who Likes To Dance

By Lance Lee, Ellen Raquel LeBow (illustrator),

Book cover of Orpheus Rising: By Sam And His Father John With Some Help From A Very Wise Elephant Who Likes To Dance

What is my book about?

Orpheus Rising is a Best Indie Book, 2021, according to Kirkus Reviews: "An extraordinarily beautiful, touching adventure that can stand with the classics of children’s literature." It is an Editor's Pick at Publishers Weekly (Booklife): "a sparkling adventure of great beauty, danger, and the unexpected, with a climax that will move anyone to a sense of joy." Diane Donovan at the highly respected Midwest Book Review described it as "hard to easily categorize—and that is one of its charms. Fantasy readers will appreciate the whimsical world...poetry enthusiasts...the metaphors and descriptions...children (as well as adults) will value the multifaceted action that keeps them guessing about relationships, outcomes, and the story's outcome."

Book cover of The Scarlet Thread (Fated Destruction Book 1)

Book 1 in a 4-book series, and our hero is Kaidance Monroe. I love the world the author has created and I really connected with Kaidance and the challenges she faces. This story is a modern-day take on the ancient Greek myth about The Fates who control our lives, and I love this retelling because the core message holds true for each and every one of us, that we can only control so much of our lives, that there are forces bigger than us that we have to deal with, but it's how we cope that's important. I’ve read the entire series. The author doesn’t drop the pace. I loved experiencing this fantastical world on a rollercoaster ride, clinging on until the end. 

The Scarlet Thread (Fated Destruction Book 1)

By D.S. Murphy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Scarlet Thread (Fated Destruction Book 1) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

My name is Kaidance Monroe, and sometimes when I touch people, I see how they die.

"Love, betrayal, mythology, mystery, you name it this has it! Hold onto your horses and Minotaurs people as this ride is definitely going to get bumpy." ★★★★★

After I saw my little brother's death but failed to stop it, my parents abandoned me to a juvenile detention facility. I don't let people touch me anymore. Not my fingertips, not my skin, not my heart. Just before I turned 18, I got a visit from a cute guy, who tricked me into giving up my…


Who am I?

I write about aloneness and individuals, what it takes to connect to family and community, and how to hang on to the people we hold dear. This means I think a lot about points of view and personal perception. We often wonder: Have I got this right? Did they get my meaning? Does everybody feel this? And more often than not, everybody does. These interpretations are both personal and universal at the same time. We all fear loss; we all have to be brave to hold onto people we love and principles we value.


I wrote...

Far Out

By Fiona Faith Ross,

Book cover of Far Out

What is my book about?

We all have dreams to chase, right? Especially when we’re young and we have our whole lives ahead of us. Far Out is the story of Saffron, a 17-year-old girl who has big dreams but finds that real life gets in the way, and maybe she takes her dad for granted. It doesn’t help that she lives in a fantasy, futuristic world ruled by a government that keeps the population suppressed and where society is divided into rich and poor. By dealing with the unexpected and overcoming problems, Saffron learns to be brave and flexible. She learns to fight for her dreams and for the people she loves.

Book cover of Shadow Of The Minotaur (Legendeer Trilogy)

This book is about being brave. You know when a problem grows into a huge scary monster, right? It’s got you cornered and you don't think you'll ever get out alive, but with the right attitude, you can. Our hero Phoenix is braver than his years, but in some ways he’s more grown-up than his dad. In this retelling of the ancient Greek story of the minotaur, who crushes mortals and eats them for breakfast, we step into a monstrous virtual world created by Phoenix’s dad. I wanted to run, but most of all I wanted to stay and see what happened next. Will the minotaur eat Phoenix alive? I related to Phoenix trying to survive and trying to work out his issues with his dad, because every one of us has to face the same difficult world and be courageous about it.

Shadow Of The Minotaur (Legendeer Trilogy)

By Alan Gibbons,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shadow Of The Minotaur (Legendeer Trilogy) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Real life' or the death defying adventures of the Greek myths, with their heroes and monsters, daring deeds and narrow escapes - which would you choose?

For Phoenix it's easy. He hates his new home and the new school where he is bullied. He's embarrassed by his computer geek dad. But when he logs on to The Legendeer, the game his dad is working on, he can be a hero. He is Theseus fighting the terrifying Minotaur, or Perseus battling with snake-haired Medusa. It feels as though he's really there ? The Legendeer is more than just a game. Play…


Who am I?

I write about aloneness and individuals, what it takes to connect to family and community, and how to hang on to the people we hold dear. This means I think a lot about points of view and personal perception. We often wonder: Have I got this right? Did they get my meaning? Does everybody feel this? And more often than not, everybody does. These interpretations are both personal and universal at the same time. We all fear loss; we all have to be brave to hold onto people we love and principles we value.


I wrote...

Far Out

By Fiona Faith Ross,

Book cover of Far Out

What is my book about?

We all have dreams to chase, right? Especially when we’re young and we have our whole lives ahead of us. Far Out is the story of Saffron, a 17-year-old girl who has big dreams but finds that real life gets in the way, and maybe she takes her dad for granted. It doesn’t help that she lives in a fantasy, futuristic world ruled by a government that keeps the population suppressed and where society is divided into rich and poor. By dealing with the unexpected and overcoming problems, Saffron learns to be brave and flexible. She learns to fight for her dreams and for the people she loves.

The Lightning Thief

By Rick Riordan,

Book cover of The Lightning Thief

Another family favorite when it was released, it purports to be an exciting contemporary fantasy novel (and it is). However, it is also very much a crime story. Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen and it is up to Percy Jackson and his friends to track it down. In a quasi-private detective assignment, Percy and his friends set out to solve the mystery and recover the bolt. And, like a true mystery, there are false suspects, twists, and surprises along the way.

The Lightning Thief

By Rick Riordan,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Lightning Thief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Lightning Thief: the First book in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series.

The first bestselling book in Rick Riordan's phenomenally successful Percy Jackson series.

Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood. I never asked to be the son of a Greek God. I was just a normal kid, going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual. Until I accidentally vaporized my maths teacher. That's when things started really going wrong. Now I spend my time fighting with swords, battling monsters with my friends, and generally trying to stay alive.

This is the one where Zeus, God of the Sky,…


Who am I?

I am an award-winning mystery author of several private detective novels. All of my recommendations have an especially sentimental appeal since they were favorites of my son when he was younger. As we read them together, my mystery novelist sensibility couldn’t help but notice the classic crime story elements in all of these books. Dressed up as middle-grade fantasies, each of these novels uses the structures, tropes, and conventions of the mystery genre to propel its plot forward.


I wrote...

Head Games

By Thomas B. Cavanagh,

Book cover of Head Games

What is my book about?

With two ex-wives, a fifteen-year-old daughter who hates him, and a soon-to-be-fatal brain tumor nicknamed Bob, retired police detective Mike Garrity doesn’t have a lot to live for. However, when twenty-two-year-old TJ Sommerset, a millionaire member of the hit boy band Boyz Klub goes missing, Mike is offered the job of a lifetime to find him. It doesn’t hurt that Mike’s daughter is TJ’s biggest fan. So Mike is all too happy to make one last attempt to impress her. Yet, it isn’t long before Mike discovers that there are other people looking for TJ as well. And once a headless corpse shows up, it’s clear that they’re not just after him for his autograph.

Book cover of The Door in the Mountain (The Ariadne Series)

Set against a beautiful, violent landscape, The Door in the Mountain is the story of Ariadne, a young princess navigating her culture’s customs and her personal responsibilities. In Ariadne’s world, the course of one’s life is determined by whether one has a “godmark” – a special gift or ability granted by the heavens. Ariadne desperately wants to be godmarked like her brother and parents. That desperation fuels a mean streak that, at times, turns to downright cruelty. Caitlin Sweet is a master of characterization, and as a reader, I can’t help but sympathize with Ariadne’s longing to fit in with her family – to be considered their equal in all aspects – even when her words and actions are despicable to those around her. 

The Door in the Mountain (The Ariadne Series)

By Caitlin Sweet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Door in the Mountain (The Ariadne Series) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ancient Crete: a place where a beautiful, bitter young princess named Ariadne schemes to imprison her godmarked half-brother deep in the heart of a mountain maze, where a boy named Icarus tries, and fails, to fly--and where a slave girl changes the paths of all their lives forever.


Who am I?

I find “difficult” characters fascinating because their humanity isn’t easily discerned. They’re often complex and richly drawn and show us aspects of ourselves we may not want to admit to others. Examining the ugly, the hidden, can be exhilarating.


I wrote...

The Voices In Between

By Charlene Challenger,

Book cover of The Voices In Between

What is my book about?

Adoni lives in a downtown apartment with her mother, an abusive alcoholic. One evening, she finds herself drawn to the enchanting voice of a man singing in the alley beneath her bedroom window. The man brings Adoni to The Welcome, a colony of the In-Between world, where young people who have been rescued from harm are kept safe by their sworn immortal protectors, the Pipers. But when The Welcome is attacked by Changelings—led by the vicious and charismatic Sylvester—and a centuries-old grudge spills over the edge and threatens to destroy the colony and everyone who lives there, Adoni must find the strength and courage within to stop the oncoming war.

Age of Bronze Volume 1

By Eric Shanower,

Book cover of Age of Bronze Volume 1: A Thousand Ships

This graphic novel is an absolute gift to anyone interested in both many of the lesser-known but no less fascinating narrative digressions of the Trojan War cycle and the visual exploration of what the late bronze age might have truly looked like. Shanower has given so much attention to period details and clothing, to the settings and backgrounds of palace, ship, and landscape. If you’re like me and you struggle to really see what the archaeological record has presented to us in rough floor plans and surviving artworks as a whole picture of life and living, this is an absolute must-read as a gorgeously illustrated narrative of the Trojan War—and the people who existed in the period we often refer to as Mycenean.

Age of Bronze Volume 1

By Eric Shanower,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This new, fully colored edition brings the historical action within the pages of AGE OF BRONZE to new, greater levels.

Daring heroes, breathtaking women, betrayals, love and death--the most spectacular war story ever told: The Trojan War. When a lustful Trojan prince abducts the beautiful Queen Helen of Sparta, Helen`s husband vows to recover her no matter the cost. So begins the Trojan War. From far and wide the ancient kings of Greece bring their ships to join the massive force to pledge their allegiance to High King Agamemnon. Featuring the greatest of the Greek heroes: Achilles, Odysseus, and Herakles,…


Who am I?

I’ve been playing in the sandbox of Greek myth as a writer for two decades, and passionately absorbed by it for even longer. My mother raised us all to love ancient history, and I was further encouraged by my brother at age 7, who brought home a copy of Bulfinch and taught me the difference between Heracles and Hercules, cementing my delight and inspiring me to pursue a BA in Classical Studies. The result was not only my Helen of Sparta duology, by a plethora of other works exploring our relationships to the divine in the retelling of historically-grounded myths, some well-known, and some half-forgotten.


I wrote...

Helen of Sparta

By Amalia Carosella,

Book cover of Helen of Sparta

What is my book about?

Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city. These dreams foretold impending war—one only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing her home. In need of protection and support, she turns to Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans as the gods seek to use her for their own ends.

A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.

Spindlefish and Stars

By Christiane M. Andrews,

Book cover of Spindlefish and Stars

An absolutely unique story that takes the mythology of the Greek underworld and gives it a twist (or two). Clo only has her Dad. He’s always been a little different—as has she—but when he disappears and leaves her a ticket for half-passage across the sea, Clo finds herself stranded on a mysterious island with a weaver, a cat, and an odd little boy—Cary, who has secrets of his own. 

I loved the stunning and strange machinations of Clo’s days on the island and working to unravel its hidden truths alongside her. She feels like a friend, and her dawning need to protect Cary is touching and relatable. The writing is beautiful, the imagery haunting, and Clo’s need to understand—and escape, is somehow both urgent and dream-like. Deep thinkers will love this book.

Spindlefish and Stars

By Christiane M. Andrews,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A spellbinding middle grade fantasy inspired by Greek mythology, for fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon and The Book of Boy.

Clothilde has lived her whole life in the shadows with her (sometimes) thieving and (always) ailing father. But when he fails to meet her one morning, sending her instead a mysterious ticket of "half-paffage," Clo finds herself journeying across the sea to reunite with him. The ticket, however, leaves her on a sunless island populated only by creaking fishermen, a rumpled old woman, a piggish cat, and a moon-cheeked boy named Cary.

Clo is quickly locked away…


Who am I?

I had a lot of troubles as a kid, and my favorite escape was getting lost in fairy tales and mythology. For me, those stories were a window into ancient worlds full of strange rules and powers, where magic was real and nothing was outside the bounds of possibility. As an author, I get to build my own stories and worlds inspired by the tales I loved so much as a kid, and I’ve loved reading about new heroes and heroines whose tales are rooted in the powerful traditions of peoples from all over the globe. I’m happy to be sharing some of my recent favorite mythology-inspired books!


I wrote...

The Edge of Strange Hollow

By Gabrielle K. Byrne,

Book cover of The Edge of Strange Hollow

What is my book about?

Called “spookily thrilling with superlative worldbuilding,” The Edge of Strange Hollow is a mythology-inspired coming-of-age adventure about friendship, found family, and perseverance. 

Poppy Sunshine isn’t like everyone else in Strange Hollow. She’s not afraid of the Grimwood, home to magical creatures like: shape-shifters, hobs, witches, Valkyrie battle maidens, and even a three-headed dog. Banned from the wood, Poppy longs to hunt the forest’s cursed magical objects with her parents, but when they disappear on a routine expedition, Poppy and her friends must break every rule to save them. She soon discovers that things in the Grimwood are rarely what they seem...and the monsters who took her parents may not be monsters at all.

Myth and Society in Ancient Greece

By Jean-Pierre Vernant, Janet Lloyd (translator),

Book cover of Myth and Society in Ancient Greece

Vernant was an influential scholar when I began writing about women in ancient Greece in the 1990s. His discussions of the social, political and religious institutions of the time, and their relationship with popular mythology, were informed by French structuralist theory.  For me his analysis of the role of marriage in a society devoted to virgin goddesses was particularly stimulating.

Myth and Society in Ancient Greece

By Jean-Pierre Vernant, Janet Lloyd (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Myth and Society in Ancient Greece as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking study, Jean-Pierre Vernant delineates a compelling new vision of ancient Greece. Myth and Society in Ancient Greece takes us far from the calm and familiar images of Polykleitos and the Parthenon to reveal a fundamentally other culture ― one of slavery, of masks and death, of scapegoats, of ritual hunting, and of ecstasies.

Vernant’s provocative discussions of various institutions and practices (including war, marriage, and sacrifice) detail the complex intersection of the religious, social, and political structures of ancient Greece. The book concludes with Vernant’s authoritative genealogy of the study of myth from Antiquity to structuralism and…


Who am I?

Since I retired from lecturing in Classical Studies I’ve been writing more pieces on women in the ancient world, and also some plays. One of them, 189 Pieces, is about the Portland Vase, a beautiful example of Roman glass whose label in the British Museum tells us that it was owned by the Duke of Portland. This is true—he’d inherited it—but it was bought at great expense by his grandmother, the wonderful Duchess of Portland. Giving women their place in history has been my aim in much of my work. Nowadays I’m obsessed with female footwear, and Cinderella, Goody Two-Shoes, and Carrie Bradshaw take up a lot of my time. 


I wrote...

Women in Ancient Greece

By Sue Blundell,

Book cover of Women in Ancient Greece

What is my book about?

My book presents an overview of the lives of women in archaic and classical Greece. It explores women’s lived experience in its social and legal framework, and also analyses representations of women in myth, literature, and the visual arts. There are chapters on Goddesses, Creation Myth, Homer, the Amazons, Sappho, women’s bodies, Athenian and Spartan society, religious practices, women on stage, philosophical perspectives, and women in sculpture. Much of human life is there.

Pandora's Jar

By Natalie Haynes,

Book cover of Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths

In this witty and intelligent book, broadcaster and novelist Natalie Haynes applies a woman’s mind to stories that in the past have been told to us mostly by men. She presents us with ten female characters who not only feature in ancient myths, but also have starring roles in later paintings, plays, novels, films, operas, and musicals. They include Pandora, Helen, Medusa, Eurydice, and Penelope: whether traditionally seen as victims or villains, all these women are explored in their ‘difficult, messy, murderous’ complexity. 

Pandora's Jar

By Natalie Haynes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Funny, sharp explications of what these sometimes not-very-nice women were up to!' - Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale

The Greek myths are among the world's most important cultural building blocks and they have been retold many times, but rarely do they focus on the remarkable women at the heart of these ancient stories.

Stories of gods and monsters are the mainstay of epic poetry and Greek tragedy, from Homer to Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, from the Trojan War to Jason and the Argonauts. And still, today, a wealth of novels, plays and films draw their inspiration from stories…


Who am I?

Since I retired from lecturing in Classical Studies I’ve been writing more pieces on women in the ancient world, and also some plays. One of them, 189 Pieces, is about the Portland Vase, a beautiful example of Roman glass whose label in the British Museum tells us that it was owned by the Duke of Portland. This is true—he’d inherited it—but it was bought at great expense by his grandmother, the wonderful Duchess of Portland. Giving women their place in history has been my aim in much of my work. Nowadays I’m obsessed with female footwear, and Cinderella, Goody Two-Shoes, and Carrie Bradshaw take up a lot of my time. 


I wrote...

Women in Ancient Greece

By Sue Blundell,

Book cover of Women in Ancient Greece

What is my book about?

My book presents an overview of the lives of women in archaic and classical Greece. It explores women’s lived experience in its social and legal framework, and also analyses representations of women in myth, literature, and the visual arts. There are chapters on Goddesses, Creation Myth, Homer, the Amazons, Sappho, women’s bodies, Athenian and Spartan society, religious practices, women on stage, philosophical perspectives, and women in sculpture. Much of human life is there.

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