Looking for expert book recommendations to learn more about the fairy tales & mythology that underpin centuries of literature? On our site, we have expert recommendations with both scholars and contemporary literary authors, who delve deep into the subject of folklore, imaginary creatures, and magical stories.
Jack Zipes, editor of the Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, recommends fairy tales that remain perennially relevant today, from Hansel and Gretel to Beauty and the Beast—not just fluff for Disney films!
Need more of a beginner's guide? No problem—take a look at seasoned novelist and cultural historian Marina Warner, who recommends the best books on or about fairy tales and mythology. And if you want a more behind-the-scenes look at how the history of mythology and folklore are worked into contemporary fairy tale and science fiction, check out our interview with Alan Lee, illustrator of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Once upon a time, someone told a story that would be told for hundreds of years, making its way into books and, eventually, into movies, where the tale would again be told afresh multiple times. Who was that someone? Nonfiction writer Nicholas Jubber introduces some of the original tellers of fairy tales, as well as some of his favourite 20th-century interpreters.
Alan Lee, illustrator of such classics as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, talks to Five Books about his favourite stories drawn from myth and fairy tale, what they mean to him, and how important it is for young readers today to experience these ancient stories.
The tale of the Trojan War—its causes, its heroes, the wooden horse, the gods and goddesses who dramatically change the course of events—has fascinated us down the ages and is embedded in our collective imagination. But where do the stories come from? British author and actor Stephen Fry lists some of the books that were most useful for Troy, his retelling of the Trojan War.
‘It’s a long time since ogres have seemed so absolutely real,’ says Marina Warner, author and long-time scholar of fairy tales. Which makes now as good a time as any to immerse ourselves in the twisted truths of the fairy tale realm, with Warner’s selection of the best books of, or about, other-worldly tales of mischief and subversion, dreams and laughter, ‘hope against hope’
Lucy Coats, author of one of the best books Greek myth books for children, recommends her own favourites. There’s one for children, one for teenagers, one for scholars, one to read out loud and one that’s very definitely adult in content…
Fairy tales are as relevant today as ever, says Jack Zipes, a means of communicating about serious problems such as the abandonment of children or the self-sacrifice traditionally expected of women. He picks the best books to help us reflect on the meaning and significance of fairy tales.