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Top 20 Greek Mythology Books to Read Today


Greek Mythology  •  15 May, 2024  •  13,298 Views  •  ⭐ 5.0

Written by Anand Swami


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Greek mythology books have captivated readers for centuries with their timeless tales and intriguing characters. From ancient epics to modern retellings, these stories continue to resonate, finding new audiences and interpretations across genres and age groups.

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Whether you're drawn to the heroics of Homer’s classics or the imaginative twists of contemporary authors, Greek mythology offers a rich tapestry of narratives that explore the human condition, destiny, and the divine. In this article, we delve into a curated list of must-read Greek mythology books that span from ancient texts to modern masterpieces.

The Odyssey by Homer

The Odyssey
Image Credits: Boulder Book Store

No discussion on Greek mythology books is complete without mentioning Homer. The Odyssey, an epic poem from the eighth or seventh century B.C.E., narrates the arduous 10-year journey of Odysseus, King of Ithaca, as he attempts to return home after the Trojan War. Despite being presumed dead by his kingdom due to his prolonged absence, Odysseus faces myriad challenges, from monstrous creatures to divine interventions.

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At home, his wife Penelope fends off over a hundred suitors who believe Odysseus has perished. Her loyalty and cunning become central to the story, showcasing the endurance of their marriage. This epic is not only a cornerstone of Western literature but also a profound exploration of human resilience, loyalty, and the relentless pursuit of home and identity.

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

An Orchestra of Minorities
Image Credits: Africa in Words

Chigozie Obioma's An Orchestra of Minorities offers a contemporary twist on The Odyssey, set in modern Nigeria and infused with Igbo cosmology. The novel follows Chinoso, a poultry farmer whose life changes after saving Ndali from suicide. Their love story, narrated by Chinoso's chi (guardian spirit), unfolds against a backdrop of societal challenges and class struggles. Despite their deepening love, Ndali's family disapproves of the match due to Chinoso’s lower social status.

Determined to gain their approval, Chinoso embarks on a perilous journey that takes him far from home and into unexpected dangers. Obioma's reimagining of Homer’s tale through African folklore provides a fresh, poignant perspective on destiny, sacrifice, and human resilience, making it a compelling read for mythology enthusiasts and literary fiction lovers alike.

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Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

Clytemnestra
Image Credits: Goodreads

Costanza Casati's debut novel, Clytemnestra, retells the tragic story of Agamemnon’s wife, offering a feminist perspective on Greek mythology. After being forced into marriage and suffering immense personal losses at the hands of Agamemnon, including the murder of her first husband and child, Clytemnestra plots her revenge following the sacrifice of their daughter, Iphigenia, during the Trojan War.

Casati delves into Clytemnestra’s psyche, exploring her transformation from a loyal wife to a vengeful queen. This modern retelling highlights the strength and complexity of Clytemnestra, challenging traditional portrayals and shedding light on her motivations and struggles. It’s an essential read for those interested in mythological narratives that centre on strong, multifaceted female characters.

Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes

Pandora’s Jar
Image Credits: Amazon

Natalie Haynes’ Pandora’s Jar re-examines the women of Greek mythology, often sidelined in traditional narratives. This 2020 nonfiction bestseller re-centres stories of figures like Pandora, Eurydice, and Medusa, providing a feminist take on their roles and significance in myth. Haynes delves into the sources and examines how these women were portrayed by ancient writers versus their modern depictions.

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With wit and insight, she explores how these characters have been interpreted and misinterpreted over centuries, revealing the enduring impact of these mythological women. Haynes’ witty and insightful prose offers a deeper understanding of these complex characters, challenging the male-dominated retellings that have shaped our perceptions of Greek myths. It’s a must-read for those seeking to explore the often-overlooked impact of women in these ancient stories.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles
Image Credits: Amazon

Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles is a modern classic that reimagines the story of Achilles and Patroclus as a poignant love story. Set against the backdrop of the Trojan War, Miller explores their deep bond and the tragic fate that awaits them. The novel delves into their early years, their growing affection, and their eventual heartache as they face the war together.

Through rich, evocative prose, Miller captures the nuances of their relationship and the complexities of their characters. Scholars have long debated the nature of Achilles and Patroclus's relationship, but Miller presents it as a deeply emotional and romantic connection. The Song of Achilles has garnered widespread acclaim, becoming a favourite among fans of Greek mythology and those seeking heart-wrenching beautifully written fiction.

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Antigoddess
Image Credits: Amazon

In Antigoddess, Kendare Blake brings Greek mythology into the realm of young adult fiction with a gripping story about the dying gods. Athena and Hermes, desperate to survive, seek the help of Cassandra, a modern-day reincarnation of the Trojan prophetess. As they navigate a world where gods and mortals collide, they uncover a deadly plot threatening their existence.

Cassandra, who possesses foresight but is cursed never to be believed, must navigate her destiny while grappling with her past life’s memories. Blake’s inventive narrative, filled with tension and intrigue, explores themes of mortality, power, and fate. Her complex characters and imaginative plot make Antigoddess a standout in the genre, appealing to readers who enjoy mythological themes in contemporary settings.

Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth

Arch-Conspirator
Image Credits: Amazon

Veronica Roth’s Arch-Conspirator reimagines the myth of Antigone in a dystopian future. In a world where human genes are archived for future generations, Antigone and her siblings, conceived naturally, face prejudice and danger. After the murder of their parents, Antigone must navigate the treacherous political landscape dominated by her uncle, Kreon.

The novel explores themes of genetic purity, authoritarianism, and familial loyalty. Roth's novella blends Greek tragedy with sci-fi elements, creating a unique and compelling narrative that examines themes of power, rebellion, and identity. Her ability to weave ancient themes into a futuristic setting offers a fresh take on the classic myth, making Arch-Conspirator an engaging read.

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Lore Olympus
Image Credits: Amazon

Lore Olympus, a popular webcomic by Rachel Smythe, offers a modern retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth. Set in a contemporary, visually stunning world, the series explores their complicated relationship amid the intrigues of the gods. Smythe reimagines Olympus as a bustling, urban environment where divine beings navigate modern issues.

The narrative delves into the personal struggles and traumas of the characters, particularly focusing on Persephone's journey from innocence to empowerment. Smythe’s art and storytelling have captivated millions, making Lore Olympus a phenomenon both online and in its printed editions. This graphic novel series is perfect for readers who appreciate mythology with a fresh, visually engaging twist, blending humour, romance, and drama seamlessly.

Atalanta by Jennifer Saint

Atalanta
Image Credits: Amazon

Jennifer Saint’s Atalanta brings the tale of the legendary huntress to life. Born to parents who desired a son, Atalanta is abandoned and raised by a bear under the protection of the goddess Artemis. She grows into a formidable warrior, skilled in hunting and combat. Atalanta joins the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece, proving her worth among the legendary heroes.

However, Artemis warns her that marriage will be her downfall. Saint’s retelling is rich with adventure and mythology, offering a powerful portrayal of a woman who defies societal expectations and carves her path. Atalanta’s journey explores themes of identity, independence, and destiny, making it a must-read for fans of mythological retellings that celebrate strong female protagonists.

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

Never Look Back
Image Credits: Amazon

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera is a contemporary retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in the Bronx. Eury, a Puerto Rican girl dealing with trauma from Hurricane Maria, meets Pheus, a charming musician. Their love story unfolds amid supernatural challenges, reflecting themes of love, loss, and resilience. Rivera’s novel also delves into the cultural and emotional struggles of adapting to life in a new environment while grappling with past traumas.

Eury's journey to overcome her fears and Pheus’s determination to protect her create a compelling narrative. Rivera’s richly drawn characters and vibrant setting bring a fresh, culturally rich perspective to this classic myth, making it a compelling read for young adults and mythology enthusiasts alike.

The King Must Die by Mary Renault

The King Must Die
Image Credits: Amazon

Mary Renault’s The King Must Die is a seminal work that reinterprets the myth of Theseus. Narrated by Theseus himself, the novel explores his adventures from discovering his royal lineage to facing the Minotaur in Crete. Renault’s vivid storytelling brings ancient Greece to life, offering detailed descriptions of the cities, cultures, and rituals Theseus encounters.

The novel delves into Theseus's early life, his journey to Athens, and his exploits, including the dramatic events in the Bull Court of Crete. Renault’s historical accuracy and psychological depth provide a comprehensive and immersive experience. The King Must Die is a must-read for anyone interested in a profound and well-researched retelling of Greek mythology, highlighting the hero’s complexities and growth.

Ithaca by Claire North

Ithaca
Image Credits: Amazon

Claire North’s Ithaca, the first book in the Songs of Penelope series, centres on Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. Set 17 years after the Trojan War, the novel depicts Penelope’s struggle to maintain order in Ithaca amid the suitors vying for her husband’s throne. North explores Penelope’s intelligence, resilience, and cunning as she navigates the political and social challenges of ruling in her husband's absence.

The narrative provides a fresh perspective on Penelope’s character, portraying her as a shrewd and capable leader rather than a passive figure. Ithaca is a compelling read for those interested in mythological retellings that highlight the strength and agency of often-overlooked female characters, offering a rich and nuanced portrayal of Penelope’s enduring legacy.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen
Image Credits: Amazon

Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen combines Greek mythology with Indian folklore in a beautifully written fantasy. Maya cursed with a horoscope of death and destruction, is married off to Amar, the mysterious king of Akaran. As she explores her new realm, Maya uncovers secrets that could save or doom them both. Chokshi’s lush prose and imaginative world-building create a vivid tapestry of mythical elements, exploring themes of fate, power, and self-discovery.

Maya’s journey is filled with challenges and revelations, as she navigates the intricate politics and magical dangers of Akaran. Chokshi’s debut novel not only captivates with its storytelling but also enriches the mythological genre with its cultural fusion and depth.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief
Image Credits: Amazon

Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson series, introduces young readers to Greek mythology through the adventures of Percy Jackson, a demigod. Accused of stealing Zeus’s lightning bolt, Percy embarks on a quest to clear his name and prevent a war among the gods. Riordan’s engaging storytelling and modern setting make Greek mythology accessible and exciting for a new generation.

Percy’s journey is filled with humour, action, and relatable struggles, as he discovers his identity and navigates the complexities of his divine heritage. The series has spawned multiple spin-offs, movies, and a forthcoming television series, cementing Percy Jackson’s status as a beloved classic in children’s literature.

Oreo by Fran Ross

Oreo
Image Credits: Amazon

Fran Ross’s Oreo is a unique retelling of the Theseus myth, set in 1970s America. The novel follows Oreo, a biracial girl on a quest to find her father in New York. Raised in Philadelphia by her Jewish grandparents, Oreo uses her wit and resourcefulness to navigate the challenges of her journey.

Ross’s witty and satirical narrative explores themes of identity, race, and family, offering a fresh and humorous take on Greek mythology. Oreo’s adventures are filled with clever twists and cultural commentary, reflecting the complexities of her dual heritage. This groundbreaking work challenges conventional storytelling, making it a must-read for those interested in innovative and thought-provoking literature.

Mythos by Stephen Fry

Mythos
Image Credits: Amazon

Stephen Fry’s Mythos is a captivating retelling of Greek myths, infused with his signature wit and charm. Fry recounts the stories of the gods, from their origins to their exploits, making the ancient tales accessible and entertaining. The book includes cultural context and Fry’s insights, providing a comprehensive introduction to Greek mythology.

Fry’s narrative brings the gods to life with humour and humanity, highlighting their quirks and follies. Mythos is perfect for readers looking to explore these timeless stories with a modern, humorous twist, offering a fresh perspective on the classic myths that have shaped Western literature.

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis

Fifteen Dogs
Image Credits: Coach House Books

André Alexis’s Fifteen Dogs explores the consequences of a divine bet between Apollo and Hermes, granting human intelligence to a group of dogs. Set in Toronto, the novel delves into themes of consciousness, mortality, and the essence of humanity as the dogs navigate their new reality. Alexis’s philosophical narrative examines how the dogs’ newfound intelligence affects their relationships, behaviours, and perceptions of the world.

Some embrace their new abilities, while others yearn for their former simplicity. Through their experiences, Alexis explores profound questions about life, identity, and the human condition. Fifteen Dogs is a thought-provoking and poignant story that offers a unique and insightful exploration of Greek mythology’s influence on modern storytelling.

Threads That Bind by Kika Hatzopoulou

Threads That Bind
Image Credits: Amazon

Kika Hatzopoulou’s Threads That Bind is a fantasy noir novel featuring Io, a descendant of the Fates who uses her abilities as a private investigator. When women in the city are attacked and their life threads maimed, Io uncovers a conspiracy that threatens everything she holds dear. Hatzopoulou’s inventive plot and rich mythological elements create a compelling and suspenseful story.

Io’s investigation leads her into a web of intrigue and danger, as she works with Edei Rhuna, the soul mate she’s never met, to unravel the mystery. The novel explores themes of destiny, justice, and familial bonds, making it a great pick for fans of Greek mythology and detective fiction.

The Middle Daughter by Chika Unigwe

The Middle Daughter
Image Credits: Goodreads

Chika Unigwe’s The Middle Daughter is a modern retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth, set in Nigeria. Nani, grieving her father and sister’s deaths, marries a preacher in search of connection but finds herself in an abusive relationship. Unigwe’s novel explores themes of resilience, identity, and liberation, offering a powerful and contemporary take on a classic myth.

Nani’s journey to escape her oppressive marriage and rediscover herself is both moving and inspiring. The novel delves into the cultural and emotional complexities of her experiences, providing a rich and nuanced portrayal of a woman’s struggle for freedom and self-determination.

Horses of Fire by A.D. Rhine

Horses of Fire
Image Credits: Amazon

A.D. Rhine’s Horses of Fire centres on the women of Troy, offering a fresh perspective on the legendary city’s fall. Through the eyes of Andromache, Rhea, and Helen, the novel explores themes of power, survival, and sisterhood. Andromache, married to Prince Hector, strives to prove herself as a military leader. Rhea, a skilled horse whisperer, finds solace in Hector’s stables.

Helen, infamous for her role in the Trojan War, seeks a way out of her abusive marriage. Rhine’s immersive storytelling and strong female characters create a compelling narrative that reimagines the well-known myth. Horses of Fire is a captivating read that highlights the strength and resilience of women in the face of adversity.

Conclusion

Greek mythology continues to inspire and captivate readers, offering a rich source of timeless stories and complex characters. From ancient epics to contemporary retellings, these books provide fresh perspectives and new interpretations that resonate with modern audiences.

Whether you're seeking adventure, romance, or profound philosophical insights, Greek mythology has something for everyone. Dive into these recommended reads and experience the enduring magic of these legendary tales.

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