10 Fantastical Mythology Books to Read When You Need a Spark of Imagination


A Pair and a Spare/Geneva Vanderzeil

Joan Didion once wrote, "We tell ourselves stories to live," but perhaps we also tell ourselves stories in order to imagine. When life can be all too real—with bills to pay, family to entertain and work to finish—stories can be an escape into a world that isn't ours and probably never will be. And while any book will do, we'd make a case for the enveloping qualities of mythology. Not only can you imagine a different world, but you can also better understand the society surrounding it.

We chose 10 of the best mythology books to read when you're seeking a departure and or an awakening, from classic Greek titles you've probably skimmed through to Japanese, Russian, Irish, and North Germanic stories that are likely entirely new. These books feature poetry and illustrations to aid in creating a fresh vantage point, and some also put the stories within a cultural context. In other words, this won't be your typical reading list, but that's not a bad thing—it's good to try something new if you're looking to spark the imagination.

By delving into these tales of war, destruction, love, and rebirth, we hope to bring some magic into your all-too-real life. Ahead, get a glimpse of the 10 mythology books that should make it onto your nightstand as soon as tonight.