A Short History of Myth: By Karen Armstrong

Stars: 4 of 5

This is one of those short audiobooks that I had to immediately listen to again. This doesn’t happen much, but every now and then I finish a book, typically on religion or mythology, and I just have to share it with my husband. I personally love the definition of mythology espoused here. That it has to be a part of your world and something that happens all the time is such an interesting way to look at it.
We spent hours afterward talking about the book too. Nothing was especially new for him, having studied religion and mythology already, but we had never really been able to talk about it in this context before.

The book progresses quickly from the almighty sky gods, to the more relatable pantheons, and through different regions and manifestations of mythology. The division of eras and types of populace were fascinating, outlining just what so many of us are still missing. Though I enjoyed listening to the whole book, the final chapter on the general lack of mythology in the modern era was the most interesting. I find the parallel to the way people talk about our celebrity worship disturbing, but prefer the idea of literary heroes. It’s not that I don’t admire celebrities, but people are bound to disappoint. Fiction, especially those rare novels and characters that capture the weird, are far less likely to take a disappointing turn without bringing it back around by the end. This is how we lie to tell the truth these days, which I also found to be a great way to describe the role myth has played in culture.

Still, I’d be happy to encounter more ritual at church but am very careful of what I wish for there. I find people generally happy to talk about morning or evening rituals but rarely those that set us in the mind or spirit for religion. I’ve known too many people who feel like we just go through the motions as it is.

Again, this was a great book that I immediately relistened to. It’s one that I would love to see as a resource for a history or religion class. I’d also enjoy it for a book club to talk about the way each advancement affected mythology of the time, what it means for myths to change together across the world, what each myth even means, whether we should be looking for myth in our lives again and even more. Like I said, I listened with my husband the second time and we talked for hours about it. Add it to Goodreads here to check out some time.

2 thoughts on “A Short History of Myth: By Karen Armstrong

Add yours

  1. I love the sound of this and how wonderful that you were able to discuss it in this way. I’ve enjoyed a few of Karen Armstrong’s books and I have a few more on the shelf which I look forward to reading. I’ve also read one book by Joseph Campbell and have another of his to read on the subject. I’m slow reading at the moment Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade which talks about the presence of the feminine in ancient cultures, another thought provoking read.


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