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The 20 Best Norse Mythology Books You Should Read

By James Lingard


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Mythology has always been an exciting genre for humanity, since we always strive for the sky whenever things on the ground level feel a bit stale.

If you ever feel like your life is lacking some excitement, you can just dive straight into the best mythology books out there and you’ll encounter worlds that you can’t even comprehend most of the time.

These worlds are, for lack of a better term, fantastical, as they blend reality with fiction for the sake of changing your views on the world and making you better understand yourself through the actions of the gods.

Out of all of the mythologies out there though, Norse mythology may be one of the most interesting ones we could think of.

This is because unlike with any other mythology in the world, Norse gods are not exempt from flaws, they are just as crude and imperfect as we are, because they are meant to be a representation of humanity through the lens of the fantastique.

As such, for today we decided to give you a top 20 of the best Norse mythology books, starting off with one of the classics right here:

20. We Are Our Deeds – Eric Wodening

We Are Our Deeds – Eric Wodening

This iteration of obscure Celtic – Heathen Philosophy and ethics is a must read for anyone looking to catch up on the Germanic culture of the past.

It is one of those mythology books that explores the culture and world view of nature versus nurture and good versus evil in the early Anglo-Saxons world.

Simply but, if you are a history buff or if you just so happen to be a modern Heathen then you should definitely give this work of art a try.

You can get the original work from 1999 or you can just go for the 2nd edition from 2011, and while the latter is a lot harder to come by, it really is worth the read if you loved the original as much as we did.

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19. Myth and Religion of the North – E. O. G. Turville-Petre

Myth and Religion of the North – E. O. G. Turville-Petre

On the other side of the spectrum, if you want to learn the ins and outs of Norse mythology you may want to give this work a try because it is by far one of the most in-depth literary works on it.

For the most part, the book explores the major gods from the Norse pantheon, it tells you about each and every one of their practices of worship and how every one of them was special in their own way.

If you’re looking for a work that provides you with clear summaries of every major event in Norse mythology then you may want to check it out for yourself.

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18. Norse Mythology – John Lindow

Norse Mythology – John Lindow

This masterpiece by John Lindow is often times cited as one of the most comprehensive explorations of pre-Christian religious practices we’ve ever seen.

While it is a little bit on the older side, some parts may seem a little outdated, but just keep in mind that this was never meant to be a step-by-step instruction book on how to be a Heathen.

Instead, this is simply put just a depiction of familiar mythological figures and tales sprung up from all new perspectives that you’ve probably never heard of before. John Lindow really outdid himself by analyzing so many ancient texts and bringing them to a whole new generation.

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17. The Sagas of Icelanders – Jane Smiley

The Sagas of Icelanders – Jane Smiley

This is the tale of a group of Nordic men and women that first settled on the banks of Iceland, only to then relocate into Greenland and then make their way to North America before they can finally call their adventure a day once they return back to where they started.

There are a total of seven short tales and ten different sagas that follow the story of the Norse explorer Leiv Eiriksson.

While it may not be as intense as the other books on this list nor is it directly discussing the Norse mythology per se, it is still a great book to research in your spare time if you love the genre.

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16. Rudiments of Runelore – Stephen Pollington

Rudiments of Runelore – Stephen Pollington

If you have already researched Norse mythology enough then you should already know by now just how important runes are to the believers.

But hey, nobody was born taught, so if you want to learn more about runes then you need to read this book by Stephen Pollington as he debates over the origins and the meanings behind these runes, while also shedding a new light over ancient riddles that nobody has an exact answer to even to this day.

If you dislike the academic research style then you may want to look elsewhere, but if that sounds like your cup of tea then you will have the time of your life reading this one.

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15. Norse Gods – Johan Egerkrans

Norse Gods – Johan Egerkrans

While definitely not the best rendition of the Ragnarok incident, Norse Gods by Johan Egerkrans is sure to get rid of that mythology itch that you’ve been trying to scratch for a while now with ease.

While Ragnarok is the final stretch of the adventure though, you can still find out plenty more information from this book that is very hard to find elsewhere.

On top of that, this book is also filled to the brim with amazing illustrations of heroes, dwarves, gods, giants and pretty much any other sort of mythical creature you can think of from the Nordic side.

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14. Norse Myths – Kevin Crossley-Ho and Jeffrey Alan Love

Norse Myths – Kevin Crossley-Ho and Jeffrey Alan Love

For this absolutely astonishing view into the Nordic mythos, two legends crossed paths to give us what can only be described as one of the most exceptional looks at the Viking gods yet.

This collaboration won everyone over due to how perfect of a dive into the Norse mythology it really is, while also showcasing all of the mightiest adventures that gods such as the all-powerful Odin or the mighty Thor and his Mjolnir had gone through over the years.

Needless to say, if that sounds like your cup of tea you should definitely give it a try because you will not be disappointed.

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13. The Wanderer’s Havamal – Translated by Jackson Crawford

The Wanderer’s Havamal – Translated by Jackson Crawford

Going all the way back into the past we have this Old Norse poem. It was a part of a collection of works that could be found in the Poetic Edda, which was written as far back as 1300 CE.

For the most part, it reflects over the life and tribulations of Odin, showcasing his more humane side full of love, passion, self-sacrifice and eventual passing of the god of gods.

If you ever wanted to know more about what life was like back in the Viking times and what classified as entertainment if not gospel back then, we definitely recommend that you give this one a try.

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12. The Saga of the Volsungs – Translated by Jackson Crawford

The Saga of the Volsungs – Translated by Jackson Crawford

This may actually be the most popular of all Icelandic sagas, which, if you’re a fan of Nordic mythology, should already tell you just how amazing of a read this is.

The Saga of the Volsungs is an epic story that showcases the life of the Volsung clan and of course, the events that happened amongst the god-folk that gave them their fortunes and let’s not forget about the amazing hero known as Sigurd either.

If you like the idea of reading a book about dragons, treasures and all sorts of mythical creatures living amongst each other, you may want to order this one as soon as possible.

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11. The Prose Edda – Snorri Sturluson, Translated by Jesse I. Byock

The Prose Edda – Snorri Sturluson, Translated by Jesse I. Byock

This poignant piece of history was officially written back in the thirteenth century by none other than Snorri Sturluson, one of the most well-educated Icelandic scholars of his time.

Because of his extensive knowledge of the field, Snorri actually managed to write what is aptly referred to as one of the most important sources of information on Norse Mythology out there, and for good reason too.

At the time though, it was merely meant to serve as an instructional book that poets and mythology enthusiasts could read up on in their spare time to learn more about the Norse mythology.

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10. Nordic Runes: Understanding, Casting, and Interpreting the Ancient Viking Oracle – Paul Rhys Mountfort

Nordic Runes – Understanding, Casting, and Interpreting the Ancient Viking Oracle – Paul Rhys Mountfort

If fantasy is not really your thing but you still want to learn about the Norse mythos, you should probably pick up this book right here because it takes on a more unique approach to explaining the world of Gods and monsters coexisting.

Instead of it being a battle between good and evil, Paul Rhys decided to veer into the land of metaphysics, showcasing how Norse runes worked and why they were so important for the Vikings back in the day.

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9. D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths – Ingri D’Aulaire, Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths – Ingri D’Aulaire, Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

Taking a bit of a step back here we have this wondrous work by the D’Aulaires. Instead of it being a metaphysical analysis of Norse mythology, we have a children’s picture book which explains the same legends that every other book does.

But if it is such a basic book in the first place, why did we rank it so high up on our list? Well, the answer is simple, the illustrations are amazing, and while the writing may not be all that detailed or in-depth per se, it is very easy to pick up on which makes this a great introduction to Norse mythology for us.

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8. The Gospel of Loki – Joanne M. Harris

The Gospel of Loki – Joanne M. Harris

While we all know Thor and Odin’s side of things, it is actually not that common to hear the bad guy’s perspective, which is exactly why we love the Gospel of Loki so much in the first place.

But what is the book about, really? Well in simple terms, it depicts the events unfolding throughout every other Norse mythology book, culminating in the end of the world as we know it, Ragnarok. The difference here though is the fact that it’s all coming directly through Loki’s eyes.

That’s right, in this book we get to sit back and enjoy taking a glimpse at Loki’s first-person adventures as he goes on to recruit the underworld of Chaos alongside spreading his mischief wherever he goes.

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7. The Viking Spirit – Daniel McCoy

The Viking Spirit – Daniel McCoy

This is yet another perfect gateway into Norse mythology, and that is solely due to Daniel McCoy’s incredible writing skills.

He is definitely one of our personal favorite writers as he managed to write this book up to scholarly standards, while also making it simple and entertaining enough for any casual reader to pick up and finish in a matter of days.

As such, while the topic itself may be very complex and the word choice may be a bit more complicated, you will easily keep up with the writing and learn more and more about Norse mythology from this amazing rendition of the Heathen philosophy.

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6. The Poetic Edda – Jackson Crawford

The Poetic Edda – Jackson Crawford

The Poetic Edda is often times hailed as the most important piece of Nordic literature you’ll ever find, and that is mostly due to how important it was back when it first came out.

Recently however, Jackson Crawford decided to take it upon himself to translate it into Modern English, and as far as we’re concerned, he definitely didn’t take this job up for granted.

While the original text may be from the thirteenth-century, the new and improved version makes for a perfect read regardless of your current knowledge of the history, mythology and literary side of the old Nordics.

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5. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe – H.R. Ellis Davidson 

Gods and Myths of Northern Europe – H.R. Ellis Davidson 

Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson was known as one of the top scholars of Norse mythology of the twentieth century, and for good reason too as she didn’t just write her books for her fellow scholars, instead opting to target the general audience too, making her works easily accessible even to the uninitiated.

Out of everything she ever released though, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe is by far her most successful work and that is mostly due to how accessible it really is to complete beginners.

The book showcases the pre-Christian religion of the Nordic men and women of the time, and while there are definitely more than a handful of fantastic elements to it, it is a lot more nuanced than you’d expect from a typical mythology book.

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4. Thor – J. Michael Straczynski

Thor – J. Michael Straczynski

While Marvel may not be the most accurate display of history and mythology alike, the one thing that we can say about them is that they never fail to deliver a proper epic story.

So, if you want a more child-friendly look into the character of Thor, as depicted by J. Michael Straczynski, you definitely should try to start with the first volume of this comic book.

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3. The Sea of Trolls – Nancy Farmer

The Sea of Trolls – Nancy Farmer

This is one of our favorite subgenres that we believe everyone interested in history and mythology should check out at least once in their life.

We are talking about the blending of ancient history and Norse epics with new age stories such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

If that sounds like your cup of tea you can definitely add the Sea of Trolls to your cart the next time you shop for a new book because it is by far one of the most amazing and unique pieces of literature we’ve ever read.

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2. Nordic Gods and Heroes – Padraic Colum

Nordic Gods and Heroes – Padraic Colum

This may seem like your average Norse mythology recollection at first but we have to say that it is anything but that. In fact, this classic by Padraic Colum is already becoming one of our favorite Norse mythology books simply due to how detailed it really is.

Padraic Colum takes his time carefully illustrating the monstrous world of the gods and goddesses that reigned over Asgard, showcasing all of the stories that time itself appears to have forgotten.

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1. Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman really is, in our honest opinion, the best fantasy writer of our generation. Whether it is through American Gods, the Sandman or Stardust, he just never misses a chance to flaunt his incredible writing skill now does hoe?

Well Norse Mythology is by far his best work, it is a depiction of every major event that happens all the way up until Ragnarok around the Norse gods. It is a perfect recollection of these tales that are as old as time itself, and what makes them even better is how accessible they are.

No matter how much you know about Norse mythology prior to reading this book, you will still understand everything that Neil carefully illustrates for you as he paves the way towards the mythical through this wonderful piece of art.

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While the Nordic gods were anything but perfect, the one saving grace that we can safely say that keeps them afloat so many years later is just how entertaining they really are.

This is because at their peak, these stories were meant to entertain us, and as far as we can tell, no matter which of these books you choose to add to your cart, you’re sure to get your money’s worth out it.

About James Lingard

A lifelong fan of mythology and all things ancient, James has always been fascinated by the rich stories and legends of different cultures, and he loves nothing more than diving into a good mythological tale. Learn more about MythNerd's Editorial Process.

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