Books that fit the #RogersReads reading challenge prompt we are focusing on this month are fantastic, but finding one that you are interested in isn’t a fantasy. Myth and folklore are as old as humanity itself, but there are plenty of new and exciting titles that can grab your attention. Whether you want to read translations of ancient texts, retellings with a modern twist, or even commentary on the social implications of these myths, there’s a veritable pantheon of options for you to check out. If you need help finding the perfect book, we’ve listed a few below to help you get started.
If you are interested in Western mythology, you may want to start with some of the reading material that is considered essential by classicists. Bulfinch’s Mythology, Mythology by Edith Hamilton, and The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans by Plutarch are all classics that have several translations or editions.
Recently scholars have been revisiting classic myths with a new approach and providing some exciting perspectives that have previously been missing in classic studies. In Heroines of Olympus, Ellie Roberts takes the female characters who are usually on the periphery of Greco-Roman myths and places them at the center of their own stories. Women and Other Monsters by Jess Zimmerman and Antigone Rising by Helen Morales both reassess the morals and warnings that myths offer to glean new lessons.
A recent growing interest in Norse mythology has paved the way for a surge of titles for readers interested in that part of the world. If you want the most authentic information, The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson can give you a view of Norse mythology written right after the age of the Vikings. Meanwhile, books like Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and Tales of Valhalla by Martyn and Hannah Whittock can give you a more modern examination of these tales.
Looking for fiction about Greco-Roman mythology? The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker and Circe by Madeline Miller are retellings that are centered on female characters from the familiar tales of the Trojan War and Odysseus’s journey. Maybe you would like something with a humorous twist? Gods Behaving Badly by Maria Phillips is a more modern imagining of the Olympian gods clashing in a London flat.
Fiction that is influenced by myths and folklore is as varied as the different places they originate. In Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s protagonist goes on an adventure with the Mayan death god. Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson and Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir both feature djinn—a staple in Arabic mythology. The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec reimagines the myth of Angrboda from Norse mythology. Grendel by John Gardner retells the story of Beowulf’s infamous adversary from his own point of view.
Fairytales are only a hop and a skip away from folklore and myth, so you can consider these familiar stories and their retellings while searching for the perfect book. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik are retellings of classic fairy tales from German and Russian folklore. If you want something more modern, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire imagines the life of some familiar fairytale figures after their big adventures.
If you haven’t already, you can join the #RogersReads reading challenge by registering and entering the books you read at rpl.readsquared.com under “missions.” Each month, prizes will be awarded to two readers who complete a mission online by the end of the month. If you complete all twelve missions by December 31, 2021, you will be entered for the grand prize that will be awarded at the end of the challenge. You can finish the challenges in any order over the course of the year with eBooks, audiobooks, or print copies of a title.
We are looking forward to a year full of challenging new reads with you!
#RogersReads Reading Challenges for 2021
1. Read a book that makes you laugh.
2. Read a book that is about food or has food in the title.
3. Read a book set in or about space.
4. Read a book that is about or based on mythology or folklore.
5. Read a book whose author is known for something other than writing.
6. Read a book, fiction or non-fiction, about nature.
7. Read a fictional retelling of a historical event.
8. Read a book you meant to read in 2020.
9. Read a book with an animal on the cover.
10. Read a book from your least favorite genre.
11. Read a book that, for better or worse, you judged by its cover.
12. Read a book with a body of water on the cover or in the title.