Books On Norse Mythology

The definitive guide to the best books on Norse mythology

The best books on Norse mythology are an incredible resource for anyone with an interest in the myths and legends of the Nordic people. The rich culture of Scandinavia stems in some part from the incredible tales passed down through the ages.

Even today, people throughout Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark continue to tell stories of trolls, elves, and Gods, all taken from Old Norse writings. What’s more, many cultures around the world still associate the Scandinavian region with Valkyries, Valhalla, and deities like Odin.

Norse mythology hasn’t just had a lasting impact on the Scandinavian landscape either. The tales shared by these incredible people have also inspired countless other writers and creators throughout the ages.

Symbols taken from Scandinavia appear in some of our favorite pop culture narratives, including stories like the Lord of the Rings.

Today, we’re going to be exploring some of the best books on Norse mythology, and what they can teach avid fans of fantasy and legend.

An introduction to the best Norse mythology books

Norse mythology has become an increasingly popular topic over the years. While many academics and literary fans have long enjoyed the unique and immersive tales of Norse gods and entities, the landscape has been thrust into the spotlight of late.

The rapid rise in fame of the Marvel cinematic universe has introduced countless new fans to names like Loki and Thor. We’ve even seen a selection of newer movies and books covering topics like the Vikings, and the Valkyries.

Even Netflix has its own popular series covering an exploration of what life for the Vikings may have been like.

Norse mythology books provide a wide range of ways to further explore this landscape. Some are accurate depictions of the stories once told by the Vikings themselves. Others are creative adaptations of common tales, transformed to suit a specific audience.

Thanks to the rise of technology, you can even consume these tales in a range of different formats today, from hardcover and paperback, to kindle variations and audiobooks.

Here are just some of the best books on Norse mythology…

The best books about Norse mythology

For the first section of our list, we’re focusing primarily on historical and educational books. These titles are designed to educate and inform readers, aside from simply providing entertainment.

Some are considered to be perhaps some of the most important works of literature connected to the Viking age and the Old Norse legends.

1. D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths

Designed primarily for children, D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths is a picture book with dozens of fantastic illustrations. However, it’s actually a fantastic title for adults too. This book is actually a reissue of a famous out-of-print book known as “Norse Gods and Giants”.

The stories are simple and easy to follow, drawing inspiration from the Prose Edda for authenticity. Perhaps the most delightful thing about this book is the illustrations themselves. The pictures make it easier to visualize and imagine complex concepts like the “World Tree” of Yggdrasil.

This title could also be a fantastic choice if you’re looking to share your love of Norse myths and legends with your little ones, in a “PG” format.

2. The Prose Edda

Created by Snorri Sturluson, and translated by Jesse L. Byock, the Prose Edda is the most iconic of all books on Norse mythology. You can expect this narrative to be a little old-fashioned, as Sturluson was actually an Icelander from the thirteenth century.

He was considered to be one of the first people to ever document the most popular Scandinavian myths officially.

The Prose Edda is essentially a handbook to everything you might need to know about the Norse myths and legends. It’s also regularly used by academic professionals researching the Viking and Norse landscape.

The Prose Edda features every God, location, and story you can imagine from the Norse world. It’s essential reading for any true fan of Norse mythology.

3. The Wanderer’s Havamal

Another must-have for any collector of Norse mythology books, this Old Norse Poem was part of a collection of works included in the Prose Edda. The story is ideal for those who want to dive deeper into the story of Odin, and the sacrifice he makes for wisdom and knowledge.

The Wanderer’s Havamal is more than just an excellent resource on Norse mythology. It also provides revealing details on what life might have been like in the Viking era.

There’s also coverage on the various spells and magical skills Odin claimed to have. There are spells about resurrection and redirecting curses.

While this story isn’t the most popular of all the tales in the Prose Edda, it’s still definitely worth reading for Odin fans.

4. The Viking Spirit

Written by Daniel McCoy, The Viking Spirit is considered one of the best Norse mythology books around by many fans. The title is written according to scholarly standards, so it’s definitely intended for those with a good grasp on literature.

However, the text is simple, entertaining, and relatively easy to follow.

Within this book, readers will find amazing retellings of around 34 epic Norse legends and myths. There’s also a detailed overview of the Viking region, and how these people worshipped the Norse Gods.

If you’re interested in all-things Vikings, this is an excellent book for discovering how they felt about the Gods and Goddesses.

There are valuable insights into the moral code of the Vikings, how they believed the universe was structured, and how they practiced their religion. You’ll even be able to check out some of the latest research from the field.

5. The Saga of the Volsungs

Widely considered to be one of the most popular and influential books among the “Icelandic Sagas”, the Saga of the Volsungs was translated by Jackson Crawford.

The Icelandic Sagas, alongside the Eddas, are among the most important literary resources we have to guide our current knowledge of the mythology and religion of the pre-Christian Nordic people.

In the Saga of the Volsungs, readers gain access to a fantastic, epic story, recounting the deeds of the Volsung clan, and the Gods who directed their fortunes. There are dragons to slay, treasures to find, and humans transforming into animals.

Plus, you also get an authentic knowledge about the myths and values of the Scandinavian people.

Notably, the stories in this saga are based on retellings from hundreds of years ago, so this could be a fantastic choice for you if you’re looking for a more historical piece. There’s even the “Ring” tale considered to have inspired the “Lord of the Rings”.

6. The Sagas of the Icelanders

The medieval Icelandic sagas are often ranked alongside the Prose Eddas as some of the most impressive literary works about Nordic myths and legends. These translations are written in a simple and matter-of-fact style, so they’re easy enough to follow.

Plus, there’s plenty of scope to make your own interpretations about what certain stories might have meant.

Covering more than 700 pages, this book is a pretty long read, so it’s likely to appeal most to those who have a strong passion for the best books on Norse mythology. There are around 10 sagas included, including “Egil’s saga”, which covers the adventures of an almost invincible warrior.

This is a must-have for any true Norse fan’s bookshelf.

Books on Norse mythology with a focus on history

If your idea of the best Norse mythology books is something that can teach you all about the people who worshipped Norse Gods, you’re in luck. There are a handful of scholarly books available, perfect for learning more about the Viking people and their practices.

While these books also cover the myths of Norse mythology, they also include access to a lot of extra historical detail.

1. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe

This book comes from one of the most reputable scholars in the Norse Mythology space, Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson. As one of the best books about Norse mythology available today, it’s brimming with useful information.

This book was written for a wide audience, so it’s entertaining and easy to follow — even for beginners.

In this tale, you’ll learn all about the pre-Christian religion held by the Norse and Germanic people. There’s less information about the actual tales themselves, and more of a focus on the historical elements of the people following the Old Norse religion.

If you want a clearer view of the belief systems of the Vikings and similar communities, this could definitely be an excellent choice for you.

2. Myth and Religion of the North

Similar in some ways to the Ellis Davidson book above, this piece by E.O.G Turville-Petre provides a comprehensive insight into the religion of the Scandinavian people, before Christianity arrived.

There’s more detail and academic language in this book, but it’s great for people looking for a different perspective on how the Vikings lived.

More than just a source of entertainment, this title has become a go-to resource for many archeologists and academic scholars. It’s a wonderful way to dive deeper into the history of Scandinavia, and the religion of the Norse Gods, without getting too caught up in the specific myths and legends.

We’d definitely recommend this title if you’re looking at Norse mythology from an academic or scientific perspective, rather than just searching for entertainment.

3. Rudiments of Runelore

A fantastic addition to any library of the best books on Norse mythology, the Rudiments of Runelore was written by Stephen Pollington.

Anyone with a couple of books on Norse mythology in their collection already will know how significant the “Runes” were to the history of the Scandinavian people. Runes often appear in legends and myths from Old Norse too.

In this book, Pollington discusses the meanings and origins of the runes, with various translations of some of the rune poems and riddles from Norway and Iceland too. The book is brimming with rich academic research and detail.

However, it’s also easy to understand for beginners, so you don’t have to slog through a tough read.

4. Nordic Runes

Written by Paul Rhys Mountfort, this is another of the best Norse mythology books which focuses heavily on the impact of the Runes on Scandinavian culture. There are various explanations and interpretations of the Norse runes, and how they might have once been used for divination.

You’ll also get a closer look at the Runic alphabet.

In the second part of the book, there’s also a comprehensive insight into “Rune Staves”, which involved combining different kinds of runes for specific purposes.

If you’d like to learn more about how the Vikings might have used runes as symbols of protection and fortune, this could be the ideal narrative for you.

The most popular books on Norse mythology

Many creative innovators have taken the myths and legends from the Norse people and adapted them with their own unique spin. This has led to the creation of various Norse mythology books with a different overview of what the Gods, creatures, and monsters were like.

Here are some of the best books on Norse mythology from this genre…

1. Norse Mythology

Written by Neil Gaiman, this book is one of the most incredible resources on Norse mythology out there. Gaiman is already a well-known author for many literary fans, thanks to his groundbreaking series of “Sandman” comics, and a range of other well-known titles.

Gaiman is a fantastic storyteller, capable of providing phenomenal insights into the Norse world.

Norse Mythology could be a phenomenal starting place for someone just making their way into the world of myths and legends shared by the Nordic people. It’s easy to follow, and comes with a lot of rich detail and depth which helps the reader to visualize what the Gods may have been like.

There’s even a helpful audio book version.

2. Norse Gods

Written by Johan Egerkrans, Norse Gods is one of the most fantastic books out there for anyone interested in Norse mythology.

Although a little more expensive than some of the other books on Norse mythology available today, this title is definitely worth seeking out for the illustrations alone. The artwork is truly mesmerizing and fantastic for visualizing the myths and legends of the Nordic people on a whole new level.

Norse Gods is fantastic for those who want to learn more about the famous deities responsible for guiding the fates of the Vikings. The book is very easy to read and follow, even for younger people, and it’s packed full of rich detail.

Although there isn’t a lot of reference here to some of the historical elements of Norse mythology, it’s still a must-have read.

3. American Gods

Another phenomenal title from Neil Gaiman, American Gods is a fully fictional book, rather than a retelling of any ancient stories or narratives.

This is a great choice for anyone who wants to simply enjoy a unique form of entertainment, related in a lot of ways to many of the ancient Norse Gods.

The book doesn’t include a lot of true elements from the ancient Eddas or similar works. However, it provides a look at the author’s unique view of what Norse deities might be like today.

The journey the main protagonist takes throughout the book gives him an excellent opportunity to uncover various different concepts and ideas from Norse mythology.

There’s even an insight into how the Norse people first came to America, and how cultures have evolved and melded together over the years.

4. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

JRR Tolkien’s connection to some of the best Norse mythology books doesn’t just include the inspiration he took from the story of the “Ring”.

The author of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings was also a huge fan of Norse mythology, even recreating some of the most famous stories from the Poetic Edda for himself.

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun offers an overview of two epic narrative poems from the Prose Edda. Here, readers will learn all about how the hero Sigurd fought the dragon Fafnir.

There’s also an interesting insight into the princess Gudrun, and her impact on the Norse myths and legends over the years.

This is a fantastic, image-rich book, ideal for beginners.

5. The Gospel of Loki

Loki has quickly become one of the most popular Norse gods in the pop culture world, thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, for people who want to learn a little more about the God, there are plenty of fantastic titles out there which don’t fall into the comic category.

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris is a fantastic tale told from the perspective of the Norse God of Mischief. The book specifically focuses on the exploits and activities of Loki which eventually led to the fall of Asgard, the realm of Odin and Thor.

The character of Loki is a fantastic one to explore, and the book is a brilliant read for anyone looking for some light entertainment.

6. We Are Our Deeds

Finally, We Are Our Deeds is a unique historical and creative book by Eric Wodening. The title offers an extremely detailed overview into the ethics, values, and virtues of the ancient Viking and Nordic people.

Rather than just looking at the myths and legends of the Norse culture, this book takes a closer look at the real historical people behind the stories.

Eric Wodening’s book is a fantastic tool for learning about Vikings, and one of the best books on Norse mythology for any true fan of scholarly works.

There are insights into the Viking views of good and evil, and explorations of how these people thought about life and death as an endless cycle of balance.

Definitely a great read to pick up for your Norse bookshelf.

Discovering the best books about Norse mythology

There is no shortage of options when it comes to the best books on Norse mythology today. The Norse mythology books chosen above were picked for their commitment to their source material, their fantastic voice and imagery, or their simple entertainment value.

However, if you’re a true fan of books about Norse mythology, there’s a good chance you also have some other favorites we haven’t mentioned here.

If you’re just getting into Norse mythology for the first time, we’d recommend starting with some of the more popular retellings, before diving deeper into the true history with tales like the Poetic Edda.

You can also learn more about Norse mythology, Vikings, and the people who celebrated the Old Norse Gods here on Scandification.

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