We Recommend: From Soccer to…Mythology?

It's We Recommend, a (sort of) recurring feature where readers write in and ask for book recommendations, for themselves or someone else, and we comply. We used to think this was our superpower, and now, humbled and thrilled by the excellent librarian readership of this blog, we bow to all the people who have great ideas, which you will find (or contribute) in the comments. Need a recommendation? Write to us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com with the person's likes, loves, reading requirements, and anything else you think we need to know, and we'll do our best to set you up. And look in the comments! That's where the best recommendations are to be found.

This one started out in an alarming fashion, as the subject line said, "I need help!" and I was sure that the email would say, "We're in London, and our wallets were stolen, and…." But no! It was much happier, less mendacious, and more exciting than that. It was this:

The other night I sat next to our fifteen year old grandson and spent most of a long meal discussing Greek mythology. After a childhood consisting of soccer, soccer and more soccer it seems that somehow mythology has gripped him. He is interested in reading more, not only mythology but fiction based on myths. I told him a bit about the Mary Renault books – especially "The King Must Die" because he has vacationed on Naxos many times. He is now very eager to READ but I am worried about getting him in over his head. What do you think? Any other suggestions?

How wonderful is this, I ask you? Very wonderful.

Now to the reading. I know many, many people love Mary Renault, but my kids have been left cold. Still, I think there's no reason he shouldn't go after it. Of course I thought of the Percy Jackson books as well, but they might be a bit young for a 15-year-old. Though Chestnut says they could be good, and some kids that age might really like them. It depends on his tastes—is he someone who likes to read a lot? Is he worldly? One thing I might recommend is branching out into other mythologies, which are amazing. Norse myths, native American myths. 

But if he's 15, and he wants to read fiction about mythology—well, here's what might be good (if a little crazy):


Caveat: this is a book for grownups. So it's dirty. And violent. Which might not be OK with you, of course, and if so, I would just go with Percy Jackson's The Lightning Thief.

But, if he's interested in a a crazy novel about a bunch of different mythologies bumping up against one another in modern day America (though the American English goes off the rails at points), this is a lot of fun. And it contains so many cultures that it could set him off to track down all the myths he'll find there.

Clearly, though, I am limited here by my own lack of reading in this area, so I beg of you, gentle (and not-so-gentle) readers: what should this boy read? And also, Mary Renault, yay or nay? Put it in the comments!

10 thoughts on “We Recommend: From Soccer to…Mythology?

  1. It’s a short walk from “fiction based on mythology” to some of the great universe building in fantasy. He might want to try some of the DiscWorld novels by Terry Pratchett. Probably not start with the most recent ones, but maybe some of the Guards ones? Like Guards, Guards.
    I got nothing other than Percy Jackson otherwise.


  2. My son who is entering tenth grade had to read the Gaiman book this summer for English. He really enjoyed it — and given that he attends a Catholic school, I think it’s probably appropriate (despite the language and subject material) for that age (at least insofar as relatively conservative Catholics go!).


  3. The Anansi Boys or even Odd and the Frost Giants might be good trial intro to Gaiman for him, especially if he isn’t a big reader already.


  4. I came here specifically to recommend Anansi Boys– same “universe” as American Gods but not as resolutely adult. I also second the Pratchett Discworld recommendations above.


  5. What do we think about “Good Omens” by the way? I thought it was fun, and funny, but I am unable to gauge the level of sophistication: would it be funny and accessible to a 15 year old boy? It might be too much in the “Christian” universe in any case. But it’s one to look at too.


  6. Are the “His Dark Materials” series too “young” for him? I taught them to my freshmen a few years ago, and while they all carped that they’d read them when they were 9, we found plenty of meat in them to discuss on a more grown up level as well. And now I will stop commenting.


  7. I loved The Lightning Thief series and I am (much) older than 15. There is another series with Percy Jackson after The Lightning Thief series as well (The Heroes of Olympus?). The Kane Chronicles is Egyptian mythology and it is by the same author as Percy Jackson: Rick Riordan. I also think the Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott (it begins with The Alchemist) has mythological things in it. My daughter suggested Loki’s Wolves? I haven’t read it…so who knows? It is by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr.


  8. If they agree to take me to Naxos when they go next, I will spend the interim time doing copious research into this genre and report back with an annotated list of recommendations.
    I may have had the best fruit in my life on Naxos. Thirty years ago, sadly.


  9. Yes. Yes. Yes.
    My (now nearly 17 year old) boy loved American Gods for exactly all the reasons stated above. Side note, he also loves Discworld (esp. the Nightwatch books) and he adored Good Omens.
    Now working on getting him to accompany me to “All Our Tragic” – a 12 hour theatrical adaptation of every greek tragedy that is playing here in Chicago.


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