I’ve often wondered if my love of soap operas stems from my love of fairy tales. Evil parents, conniving bad guys, quests for wealth and property, and star-crossed love feature liberally in both genres. Some of the fairy tale villains I’ve read about have nothing on JR, and several soaps use the supernatural to move the plot along, just like fairy tales.
Recently as I spent a snowy afternoon reading through The Crimson Fairy Book I was reminded of just how great fairy tales are. Here’s a short list for the fairy tale neophyte, as well as some picks for those of you already well-versed in once upon a time and happily ever after.
- The Crimson Fairy Book, edited by Andrew Lang: This just happens to be the book I’m reading at the moment, but all of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books are wonderful. Lang collected fairy tales and folk tales from around the world, and published 12 illustrated volumes. In these collections you’ll find variations on familiar stories (like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White), as well as folk tales unique to their country.
- Smoke and Mirrors, by Neil Gaiman: In this short story collection, Gaiman revisits the fairy tale in stories like Troll Ridge and Snow, Glass, Apples. If traditional fairy tales just haven’t done it for you or you’re looking for a twist on the genre, this might be your book.
- Don’t Bet on the Prince: Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales In North America and England: Gory violence doesn’t bother me, but the gendered violence and heavy-handed gender roles that feature prominently in many traditional fairy and folk tales makes me squeamish. This collection offers some contemporary fairy tales that feature strong women and non-traditional gender roles, and also includes a section of essays about feminism and fairy tales.
- Grimm’s Grimmest: A short collection of the most violent, horrifying tales in the Grimm Brothers’ oevre, before they were revised to be suitable as bedtime stories. These stories will make you wonder how fairy tales ever became associated with children.
- The Arthur Rackham Treasury: Many of Arthur Rackham’s beautiful portrayals of fairy tales can be found in this book. If, like me, you like fairy tale illustrations almost as much as the stories themselves, you might also want to look at Dulac’s Fairy Tale Illustrations in Full Color or The Unknown Paintings of Kay Nielsen.
For those of you who still need more, there are many, many other books in the library. Check out some of our collections of the Brothers Grimm, the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, folk tales from all over the world, or stories retold by Italo Calvino in Italian Folk Tales.
Happily ever after,