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UPDATE: it seems like people are in favor (no downvotes after 5 days), so I went ahead and posted a question on the main site: What are good sources to introduce people to mythology?


It's almost inevitable that we were going to get a question asking for recommendations for books about mythology. (We got such a question yesterday: https://mythology.stackexchange.com/questions/1123/best-current-mythology-source-book-s-to-get-started). I personally think that we should do our best to help people in this position: these are people who know nothing about a topic but want to learn about it, and they're doing the right thing and asking what books they should read (as opposed to, say, asking a bad question about a wikipedia article). I also believe that if we give these people a list of books to read, there's a good chance that they'll come back with questions about what they read.

Here's what I think we should do:

  1. We currently have a question on the meta that gives recommendations for myths for beginners to read (I'm new and interested in Mythology: What are good myths for "beginners" to read?). I think we should:

    • move the question to the main site where it is more visible
    • edit the question so it's about sorces about mythology for beginners, and add some books/encyclopedias to the list.
    • Instead of organising the sources by beginner/advanced, organise them by culture (e.g. a section for greek mythology, a section for celtic mythology, etc.).
    • Include a section for books that talk about mythology in general (e.g. this book: http://www.amazon.com/World-Mythology-The-Illustrated-Guide/dp/0195307526). This will help beginners who aren't interested in a specific region learn about some interesting myths.
    • In the question, emphasise the following two points:
      1. Instead of spending money on amazon, beginners should go to a local library and start by exploring the books there. To emphasise this, instead of linking to amazon we should like to worldcat.org, which will tell you the nearest library which has that book. (Here's the page for "World Mythology" http://www.worldcat.org/title/world-mythology/oclc/27678612&referer=brief_results).
      2. New users should also consider reading translations of actual myths (instead of encyclopedias), because doing so will give beginners a better idea of how myths were written/the function they served in society.
  2. We should clarify our policy about recommendation questions:

    • I think that questions asking for general sources about mythology/about a region (e.g. "What are good books about aztec mythology") should be closed as a duplicate of the question described above (which will hopefully have a section about Aztec/Mesoamerican mythology).
    • However, questions asking for sources about a more specific topic (e.g. looking for a source that explains the role the welsh triads played in literature/society) might be OK. We should make that decision if we start receiving those types of questions.

Thoughts? Questions? Disagreements?

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Since the answer is posted on the main site, it doesn't make sense to keep a copy of the answer here (where it will quickly get out of date). I'm just going to leave this answer up for archival purposes (so people can see comments/revision history), but if you have feedback/want to contribute to the list please do so on the non-meta question.

  • Added a few. I'm not sold that this is the best layout, but I don't have anything better in mind just yet. – C. M. Weimer Oct 6 '15 at 20:03
  • @C.M.Weimer agree 100% that it could be less cluttered, but I'm not sure how to do that... – user62 Oct 7 '15 at 22:44
  • There's also the problem of overlap - and I think putting books together with online blogs. – C. M. Weimer Oct 7 '15 at 22:57
  • @C.M.Weimer agree, it's awkward, but some people can't/don't want to use physical books. Again, agree that it's a problem, not sure how to fix it (btw I put the question on the main site) – user62 Oct 7 '15 at 22:58
  • Can we add books like Edith Hamilton's Mythology, anything by Evslin & Hoopes, or the D'Aulaires' books? I realize some of those are more youth-oriented, but they're also intended to be a gentler on-ramp to get people interested in the stories, which is what the myths are. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Oct 8 '15 at 10:02
  • @LaurenIpsum I agree 100% -- maybe put them in their own section, so their easier to find? Feel free to edit the answer (but on the main site, so that people actually see it) – user62 Oct 8 '15 at 13:46

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