The Greatest "Folklore" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Folklore

Folklore is a category of books that encompasses traditional stories, beliefs, and customs of a particular culture or community. These stories are often passed down through generations and are deeply rooted in the history and traditions of the people. Folklore books may include myths, legends, fables, fairy tales, and other forms of storytelling that reflect the values, beliefs, and experiences of a particular group of people. They offer a glimpse into the cultural heritage of a community and provide insight into their way of life, beliefs, and customs.

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  1. 1. One Thousand and One Nights by Unknown

    This is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled during the Islamic Golden Age. The stories are told by a young woman, who must weave a new tale each night for her husband, a king, to delay her execution. The tales are filled with magic, adventure, love, and betrayal, and include well-known stories such as "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor".

    The 66th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen

    This collection of stories offers a mix of enchanting fairy tales and narratives, many of which have become universally recognized classics. The stories range from tales of whimsical creatures and magical realms to poignant narratives that explore themes of love, sacrifice, and the human condition. Some tales are light-hearted and humorous, while others are profound and thought-provoking, demonstrating the breadth and depth of the author's storytelling abilities.

    The 212th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Epic of Gilgamesh by Unknown

    This ancient Mesopotamian epic follows the story of Gilgamesh, a demigod king who rules over the city of Uruk. Unhappy with his reign, the gods create a wild man named Enkidu to challenge him. However, Gilgamesh and Enkidu become close friends and embark on several adventures together, including defeating the demon Humbaba and killing the Bull of Heaven. After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh becomes obsessed with finding immortality, leading him on a journey to meet Utnapishtim, the only human who has been granted eternal life. The narrative explores themes of friendship, mortality, and the meaning of life.

    The 279th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Mahabharata by Vyasa

    The book is an English translation of the ancient Indian epic, originally written in Sanskrit, which tells the story of a great war that took place between two groups of cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The narrative explores themes of duty, righteousness, and honor while also featuring a rich array of gods, goddesses, and supernatural beings. It is not only a tale of war and conflict, but also a profound philosophical and spiritual treatise, containing the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text of Hindu philosophy.

    The 315th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Household Tales by Brothers Grimm

    "Household Tales" is a collection of German fairy tales that includes popular stories such as "Cinderella", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Hansel and Gretel", and "Snow White". These narratives, often featuring magical elements and moral lessons, have been influential in shaping Western popular culture. The tales range from the whimsical and humorous to the dark and cautionary, reflecting a wide array of human experiences and emotions.

    The 316th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

    A young girl from Kansas is swept away by a tornado to a fantastical land called Oz. To return home, she must find the mysterious Wizard in the Emerald City, and on her journey, she befriends a Scarecrow in need of a brain, a Tin Woodman longing for a heart, and a Cowardly Lion seeking courage. They all hope the Wizard can grant their wishes, but they must first overcome the Wicked Witch of the West who poses a great danger to them.

    The 329th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory

    This classic work is a compilation of stories and legends about the legendary King Arthur, his knights, and the Round Table. It tells of Arthur's rise to power, his quest for the Holy Grail, and his tragic downfall. The book, written in the 15th century, is considered one of the most influential pieces of Arthurian literature and has significantly shaped the modern perception of Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, Lancelot, and other iconic characters.

    The 360th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Beowulf by Unknown

    "Beowulf" is an Old English epic poem that tells the story of the eponymous hero, a Geatish warrior who comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall is under attack by a monster known as Grendel. Beowulf fights and defeats Grendel and his mother, earning the gratitude and friendship of Hrothgar. Later in his life, Beowulf becomes king of the Geats and faces his final battle with a deadly dragon. The poem explores themes of heroism, fate, and mortality, and is considered one of the most important works of Old English literature.

    The 428th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en

    "Journey to the West" is a classic Chinese novel that follows the adventures of a Buddhist monk and his three disciples, a monkey, a pig, and a river monster, as they travel from China to India in search of sacred Buddhist scriptures. Along the way, they face a series of challenges and obstacles, including battling demons and overcoming their own personal weaknesses. This epic tale is a blend of mythology, folklore, and fantasy, and is also a commentary on the practice and principles of Buddhism.

    The 490th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. The Nibelungenlied by Anonymous

    "The Nibelungenlied" is a Middle High German epic poem that narrates the story of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, his murder, his wife Kriemhild's revenge, and the destruction of the Burgundians. The narrative is set in the early medieval period and combines elements of Norse mythology, courtly love, and heroic legend. The poem explores themes of honor, loyalty, love, betrayal, and revenge, and is considered one of the most important works of German literature.

    The 607th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Ramayana by Valmiki

    The book is an ancient Indian epic poem which follows the journey of Prince Rama as he embarks on a quest to rescue his beloved wife Sita from the clutches of Ravana, the demon king. The narrative explores themes of morality, dharma (duty/righteousness), and the struggle between good and evil. The story is not just about Rama's battle against Ravana, but also his spiritual journey and the importance of upholding one's duties and responsibilities.

    The 613th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Gypsy Ballads by Federico García Lorca

    "Gypsy Ballads" is a collection of poems that depict the lives, struggles, and customs of the Andalusian Gypsy community. The poems are rich in imagery and symbolism, exploring themes of love, death, passion, and tragedy. With its vivid portrayal of the Gypsy culture, the book provides a unique insight into their vibrant and complex world, while also reflecting on broader human experiences.

    The 682nd Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

    This children's classic tells the story of a mischievous young rabbit who disobeys his mother's warning and ventures into Mr. McGregor's garden. After indulging in the garden's bountiful offerings, the young rabbit finds himself chased by Mr. McGregor, narrowly escaping capture. He eventually makes his way back home to his mother, who scolds him for his disobedience and sends him to bed without supper.

    The 693rd Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Mythology by Edith Hamilton

    This book is a comprehensive guide to ancient Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies, providing detailed accounts of various gods, goddesses, heroes, and other mythological creatures. It includes well-known stories like the Odyssey and the Iliad, along with lesser-known tales, and analyzes their significance in the cultures they originated from. The book also delves into the origins of these myths and their influence on later civilizations, offering readers a deep understanding of ancient cultures and their belief systems.

    The 744th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. The Golden Bough by James George Frazer

    "The Golden Bough" is a comprehensive study on mythology and religion, exploring the common themes found in different cultures around the world. The author uses a wide range of sources to argue that human belief progressed through three stages: primitive magic, replaced by religion, which in turn was replaced by science. The book delves into various rituals and customs, including the concept of the dying god in mythology and the role of fertility rites in agriculture. The author's theories have had a profound influence on both literature and anthropology.

    The 822nd Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Aesop's Fables by Aesop

    This book is a collection of short tales, often featuring animals as characters, which convey moral lessons. The fables, attributed to a storyteller from ancient Greece, are known for their brevity and poignant messages. The stories cover a wide range of themes such as honesty, wisdom, greed, vanity, and humility, and are often concluded with a simple, yet profound, moral lesson. The narratives have been passed down through generations and continue to be relevant in modern times.

    The 908th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg

    "Tristan" is a medieval romance that tells the tragic tale of the noble knight Tristan and the beautiful princess Isolde. The story is filled with themes of love, betrayal, and honor, as Tristan is sent to Ireland to bring back Isolde for his uncle, King Mark, to marry. However, on their journey back, they accidentally consume a love potion, causing them to fall deeply in love with each other. Their illicit affair eventually leads to their downfall, resulting in a tale filled with sorrow and heartbreak.

    The 945th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. The Complete Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault by Charles Perrault

    This book is a comprehensive collection of classic fairy tales, featuring enchanting stories that have been passed down through generations. It includes beloved tales such as "Cinderella", "Sleeping Beauty", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Puss in Boots", and "Bluebeard", among others. Each story is rich in fantasy, moral lessons, and iconic characters, making it a timeless treasure for both children and adults.

    The 1101st Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. The Water Margin: Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Naian

    "The Water Margin: Outlaws of the Marsh" is a classic Chinese novel set during the Song dynasty, revolving around 108 outlaws who gather at Mount Liang to form a sizable army. The narrative explores themes of rebellion, loyalty, and justice, as these bandits challenge the corrupt and oppressive government. Despite their status as outlaws, they follow a strict code of honor and righteousness, often assisting the poor and the weak. The book is a blend of history, folklore, and mythology, offering a vivid portrayal of the political and social dynamics of the era.

    The 1156th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. The Palm Wine Drinkard And His Dead Palm Wine Tapster In The Dead's Town by Amos Tutuola

    This novel follows the surreal and fantastical journey of an African man with an insatiable thirst for palm wine, who, after the death of his skilled tapster, embarks on a quest to the land of the dead in hopes of bringing him back to the world of the living. Along the way, he encounters a myriad of bizarre and supernatural obstacles, including ghosts, witches, and other mythical creatures, each presenting their own challenges and moral lessons. The narrative, rich with the oral tradition of Nigerian folklore and written in a distinctive pidgin English, weaves a tale that explores themes of desire, loss, and the intersection of the living and the spiritual realms.

    The 1168th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

    The book is a captivating tale about the legendary Robin Hood and his band of merry men in Sherwood Forest. It chronicles their various adventures as they rob from the rich to give to the poor, outwit the Sheriff of Nottingham, and have encounters with characters such as Little John, Friar Tuck, and Maid Marian. The story is filled with humor, action, and a strong sense of justice, painting a vivid picture of medieval England.

    The 1219th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories by Angela Carter

    "The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories" is a collection of short stories that reimagines and deconstructs traditional fairy tales. The narratives are filled with strong female characters, sexual exploration, and violent and gothic themes. Each story presents a unique spin on classic tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Bluebeard, challenging the typical gender roles and expectations found in the original stories.

    The 1237th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

    In "Mythago Wood," a man named Steven Huxley delves into the mysterious depths of Ryhope Wood, a forest that holds ancient and mythical creatures known as mythagos. As he explores the ever-changing landscape, Steven encounters his deceased father's mythago, a powerful and seductive woman named Guiwenneth. Drawn into a world of magic and danger, Steven must confront his own desires and confront the dark secrets that lie within the heart of the wood.

    The 1299th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

    This book explores the theory that important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years all share a fundamental structure, which the author calls the "monomyth." It outlines the stages of this monomyth, which include a hero's call to adventure, a descent into the underworld, and a triumphant return. The book also discusses how these universal patterns can provide a framework for understanding human experience and the world around us.

    The 1453rd Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. Works and Days by Hesiod

    "Works and Days" is an ancient Greek epic poem that provides advice on life and farming. The author uses the myth of Prometheus and Pandora to explain why life is hard for humans, attributing it to Pandora's release of evils into the world. The work serves as a farmer's almanac, giving detailed advice on the best times to plant and harvest crops, and also provides moral guidance, emphasizing the importance of hard work, justice, and piety.

    The 1466th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

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