The 6 Best Books About Norse Mythology To Inspire the Viking Within

Written by Lev Baker
Published: November 21, 2022
© Thomas du Crest/Shutterstock.com

This post may contain affiliate links to our partners like Chewy, Amazon, and others. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to educate about the world's species..

The Norse myths are the myths of a chilly place, with long, long winter nights and endless summer days, myths of a people who did not entirely trust or even like their gods, although they respected and feared them. ~ Author Neil Gaiman

Norse mythology is a body of mythology that was practiced in Scandanavia, mainly Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway today. Their figures and stories are laced with profound, metaphorical messages that are almost always likely to leave you mind-boggled! Now, if you’re a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, you’ve probably already heard of some of their deities, like Thor, Odin, or Loki. But even if you’re not, there are a million books out there for you to find about the glorious pagan era in which the North Germanic peoples lived. So without further ado, let’s dive right into Norse mythology books that should definitely make it onto your shelf if you want to learn more about this fascinating religion!

  1. Norse Mythology
  2. Norse Mythology
    • Norse tales retold by popular author, Neil Gaiman.
    • Covers the origin of Norse figures through their ultimate demise in Ragnarok.
    Check Amazon
  3. D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths
  4. D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths
    • 160 pages.
    • Customers recommend this book for readers ages 5 through 10.
    • Perfect for parents seeking to teach their children about Norse mythology
    • Will excite your child’s imagination with descriptions of various Norse deities
    • 5/5 stars on Amazon
    Check Amazon
  5. The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes (Hackett Classics)
  6. The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes (Hackett Classics)
    • Collection of Old Norse heroic and mythical poems
    • Written in simple language aimed at modern reader
    • 5/5 stars on Amazon
    Check Amazon
  7. The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics)
  8. The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics)
    • 304 pages.
    • The original Norse mythology text, written in Iceland in the 13th century.
    Check Amazon
  9. The Sagas of Icelanders: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
  10. The Sagas of Icelanders: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
    • 848 pages.
    • Recommended for readers 18 and older.
    • A selection of Viking tales.
    Check Amazon
  11. The Saga of the Volsungs: With the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok (Hackett Classics)
  12. The Saga of the Volsungs: With the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok (Hackett Classics)
    • Retells a popular 13th-century Old Norse story
    • Allows you to gain more profound knowledge about ancient European gods, cultures, values, and myths
    • 5/5 average reviews on Amazon
    Check Amazon

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology
  • Norse tales retold by popular author, Neil Gaiman.
  • Covers the origin of Norse figures through their ultimate demise in Ragnarok.
Check Amazon

The first book you should dive into when studying Norse mythology would be Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. With a 4.7 star rating and over 17,000 reviews on Amazon, this book is some of the best work of New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman and is an editor’s pick on Amazon. Currently teaching arts at Bard College, the author has received numerous literary awards for his works, such as Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Will Eisner awards. 

Gaiman depicts the tales of Norse mythology by dividing them into several arcs. And if you’re into Vikings and finding out more about the demigod and heroes like Thor in much more detail than you’ve seen in movies and shows, this book is the right pick for you. Norse Mythology makes several cunning analogies, talking of goats, gods, dwarfs, ghosts, and everything else there is to know. To put it in a few words:

“The Norse myths have been done in a hundred different ways. But Neil Gaiman’s droll voice and formidable story-telling skills make this a worthy addition.”

The D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

#10
D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths
  • 160 pages.
  • Customers recommend this book for readers ages 5 through 10.
  • Perfect for parents seeking to teach their children about Norse mythology
  • Will excite your child’s imagination with descriptions of various Norse deities
  • 5/5 stars on Amazon
Check Amazon

First published in 1967, this is a perfect introduction to the world of Norse mythology for your little ones. Full of illustrations of the Norse gods, the book does a spectacular job of captivating a young audience while simultaneously educating them about Norse mythology. And that explains its stellar 4.8-star rating on Amazon. The book’s authors, Ingri Mortenson and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, were a loving couple who wrote and illustrated several children’s books and won the Caldecott for The D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths. And even after their deaths in the 1980s, their children’s books have retained their legacy.

This illustrative masterpiece tells tales of several of the Norse gods. These include stories of Odin the All-father, Thor the Thunder-god and the theft of his hammer, Loki, the mischievous god of the Jotun Race, and Ragnarok, the destiny of the gods. What stands out is how picturesque and well-detailed the graphics are, transporting children to where these stories were taking place – Scandinavia. The NY Times also wrote very highly about this book, saying:

“… Featuring a sturdy sewn binding, the book arguably represents the pinnacle of the d’Aulaires’ achievement as storytellers and artists…”

The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes by Jackson Crawford

#6
The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes (Hackett Classics)
  • Collection of Old Norse heroic and mythical poems
  • Written in simple language aimed at modern reader
  • 5/5 stars on Amazon
Check Amazon

The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes, as the name suggests, is a treasure full of poetic and spiritual connotations to Norse literature, culture, and heritage that are left untapped. The book depicts the stories of Norse gods and their role in Scandanavia in a uniquely poetic style, hence the stellar 4.9-star rating and over 4,500 reviews on Amazon. The book is also shows a rating of 5/5 on eBay!

The author of this book, Jackson Crawford, is a Ph.D. in Scandinavian studies. So rest assured, anything you read in this book will be accurate regarding its alignment with the folklore of Norse mythology. In addition, the author is currently the coordinator of the Nordic Program at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes also taps into the influence of Christianity on Norse mythology and Scandanavian culture – a topic most writers hesitate to touch. With about 400 pages, this book should be one of your prime resources if you want to study Norse mythology in detail or if you wish to study it for research and educational purposes. In the words of a student:

“I found this to be a very enjoyable read. Jackson Crawford has done a great job capturing the spirit of the eddas without sacrificing accuracy.”

The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson

The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics)
  • 304 pages.
  • The original Norse mythology text, written in Iceland in the 13th century.
Check Amazon

A book translated from Icelandic, The Prose Edda, is a one-of-a-kind textbook. An Icelandic poet, author, historian, and politician, Snorri Sturluson was an avid historian of Norse mythology and well-versed in early medieval Scandinavian history. Unfortunately, he was assassinated in 1241 by men claiming to be agents of the King of Norway. Luckily for us, he had already compiled The Prose Edda by then, which has since been translated into English.

One of the most spectacular works of Scandanavian literature, The Prose Edda is often used as a coursebook in universities to teach Scandanavian history with a Norse touch to it. The prose pays particular attention to the final cataclysmic battle, Ragnarok, when the world would end. Coursework aside, this book has also inspired several other works, such as Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

“If you are interested in Norse tales, heathenism/paganism, this is a must-have for your library.”

The Saga of the Icelanders

The Sagas of Icelanders: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
  • 848 pages.
  • Recommended for readers 18 and older.
  • A selection of Viking tales.
Check Amazon

This is a book that stands its own next to Homer’s The Odyssey, but with a focus on Norse mythology. A Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction in 1992, American novelist Jane Smiley considers this some of her best work. With a 4.7-star rating and about 1,000 reviews, it brings out some of the hidden secrets of the Icelandic classics.

The story of The Sagas of the Icelanders takes you back to the 12th and 13th centuries, and while it might not be a thriller, the book is a piece of marvelous storytelling. Filled with long chapters and story arcs, this book touches on themes such as politics, history, love, hate, and friendship, all in the context of the Norse pagan era. There’s absolutely no question that you’ll feel a wide range of emotions when reading through these pages.

“A really well-put-together edition of the Icelandic Sagas. It’s one long saga and a bunch of shorter ones. It’s long and well worth reading.”

As the above review describes, this book lies somewhere between truth and fiction. The author takes a leap into fiction, where every single word has a hidden connotation to something in the Icelandic era, something pretty much open to interpretation. So if you’re looking for a realistic fiction tale of Norse mythology, this book is the right one for you!

The Saga of the Volsungs: With the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok by Jackson Crawford

#1
The Saga of the Volsungs: With the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok (Hackett Classics)
  • Retells a popular 13th-century Old Norse story
  • Allows you to gain more profound knowledge about ancient European gods, cultures, values, and myths
  • 5/5 average reviews on Amazon
Check Amazon

Another masterpiece by Jackson Crawford, The Saga of the Volsungs: With the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok is a new translation of the Saga of the Volsungs, and one of the most well-received. Saga of the Volsungs is a legendary Norse story dating back to 1000 C.E. The language and styles of the original and Dr. Crawford’s version are remarkably similar and show his deep understanding of the material and Norse mythology. This explains the spectacular 4.9-star rating and 1,500+ reviews of the book on Amazon.

While most other translations of Saga of the Volsungs either miss out on the storytelling or the ethos, this one has the right blend of both. Instead of translating the book literally, Crawford took a leap and went on to interpret the book so that it wouldn’t lose its poetic element but would still be understandable at the same time.

To say the least, the book keeps you on the edge of your seat and is a gripping read of Norse mythology. In the words of an inspired reader:

“Everything I expected. Jackson Crawford knocks it out of the park once again.”

Criteria: What to Look For in Books About Norse Mythology

Finding the right book for what you wish to read about Norse mythology can be a daunting task. So, here are some things you should look for when searching for the right book for yourself:

  • Determine whether you’re looking for a story to read or a more detailed, historically accurate read.
  • Would you be more comfortable reading a translation from Icelandic mythology or a more modern piece of writing like an interpretation of Icelandic works?
  • Which age group are you looking to find a book for?
  • Decide whether you prefer a more textbook-like approach to the myths or prefer to read something with visual aids, like stunning art.
  • Would you prefer to read short, separate stories or a deeper dive into one aspect of Norse mythology?

Based on what your answer is to each of these prompts, you should be able to find a book that truly fits your needs.

Happy reading!

Up Next…

About the Author

I have been a freelance writer for the past 2 years. I have a huge love of animals and I love building my knowledge of animals through research. I love sea creatures in particular, my favorite being the octopus because of their intelligence, and I mean, come on, what's not to love! I have a rescue boxer named Dante who is the friendliest pup a man could ask for.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.