Read Harder 2019: A Book of Mythology or Folklore | Daniel Boone Regional Library

Read Harder 2019: A Book of Mythology or Folklore

Apollo and Artemis. Tondo of an Attic red-figure cup.

I struggled to pick a book for this prompt because there are just so many options. There are mythologies and folklore from every part of the world, and there are fun contemporary twists on familiar works. 

Cover of The Penelopiad

If you’re looking to kill two birds with one stone, try reading versions of “The Iliad” or “The Odyssey” (or other mythological works) translated by women to satisfy Task #10. If you liked “The Odyssey,” you may be interested in Margaret Atwood’s “The Penelopiad.” Taking the perspective of Penelope’s twelve maids who were hanged for their disloyalty to Odysseus, this work seeks to answer the long-standing question of what Penelope was actually doing while her husband was away. My personal pick for this task is Madeline Miller‘s “The Song of Achilles.” This retelling of “The Iliad” takes on Patroclus’s perspective and emphasizes the relationship between him and Achilles. The beginning of the book is romantic and idyllic, but with the start of the Trojan War, things take a sharp and heartbreaking turn. “Circe,” also by Madeline Miller, tells the story of the titular daughter of Helios banished to a deserted island.

Cover of Mules and MenIf you’d like to depart from the commonplace Greco-Roman mythology, Rachel Storm’s “Legends & Myths of India, Egypt, China, and Japan” offers an A-Z overview of Eastern mythologies. “The Myths and Gods of India” takes you through the rich history of Hinduism. Zora Neale Hurston, anthropologist and author of “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” “Barracoon,” and other brilliant works presents a treasury of Black American folklore in “Mules and Men.” This work covers stories, traditions, songs, and superstitions that comprise the cultural history of African American life in her hometown of Eatonville, Florida.

There is no shortage of fun retellings of ancient myths. Rick Riordan has series inspired by Roman Mythology, Egyptian Mythology, and Norse Mythology. In “God’s Behaving Badly,” Marie Phillips reimagines ancient classical figures and supplants them into our own time. For example, Aphrodite is a phone sex operator and Artemis is a dog walker. In a similar vein, Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” follows Shadow, an ex-convict, as he gets swept up in a battle between the ancient gods and the new American gods.

Cover of Lore

If you’re interested in something a little closer to home, Jan Harold Brunvan’s “Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends” debunks some of the stories we have all heard (like alligators in sewers) that happened to a friend of a friend of ours. Also, if you’re familiar with the podcast, “Lore,” you’ll be delighted to know that Aaron Mahnke has written books about the dreadful places, wicked mortals, and monstrous creatures he discusses in his podcasts. As a bonus, almost all are available as audiobooks.

For all (or many) things mythological and folklorical, check out our list in Bibliocommons, and be sure to join our Read Harder 2019 Facebook Group!

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