D'aulaire's Book of Norse Myths
Had I known this book existed, I'd probably have sought it out much earlierin my life, because the D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths is one of my favorite books from childhood. We had it in school, and I was enchanted with the elegant drawings and the stories--so when I came down with pneumonia, my mom got it for me as a get-well present, and I've loved it ever since. The Norse myths were recently reissued by the New York Review of Books--with an introduction by Michael Chabon, no less--so they're back on the radar. Anyway, it's a very pretty book with all sorts of fascinating North mythology--a real treat for those of us who've gleaned most of our knowledge in this area from Neil Gaiman. There's the usual vague historical sexism--the female goddesses here aren't anywhere near as fleshed out as in the Greek stories, and I'm not sure if that's due to the original Norse tales or not. At any rate, all books by the D'aulaires are classics, and this makes a valuable addition to any word nerd's bookshelves.