I’m a big fan of the classics, whether that means tales of ancient mythology, or books written a hundred years ago and considered “must-reads”. I find it fascinating to read a story from the point of view of a world that no longer exists and getting to feel like you’re part of history for just a moment. However, to be honest sometimes these stories could be a little more… modern. Sometimes when reading Greek mythology I find myself wishing for better female characters, or more depth to the ones that are there. Sometimes when reading a book written in the renaissance, I wish the characters would break their polite façade and act like real people for just a second. Even fairy tales seem repetitive and stale. Luckily, I am not alone in these feelings and many a better writer than myself has taken the initiative to give “The Classics” a new spin.
Right now, at the Crawfordsville District Public Library we are displaying a great collection of classics retold. Some you may be familiar with like Margret Atwood’s The Penelopiad or Ursula K Le Guin’s Lavinia which are both staples of the retelling genera that give the women of Greek mythology more agency. But we will also be featuring many other books that you may not be familiar with.
I am personally particularly excited to read Neon Gods by Katee Robert. We just got this book in the other day, and everyone seems to be going crazy for it. It is a steamy romantic retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth set in the ultra-modern city of Olympus. The display will have a slew of other Greek myth inspired books as well, including: Ariadne, Circe, Daughters of Sparta, The Song of Achilles, and A Thousand Ship. One of them is sure to catch your attention.
If you are more into classic literature, we’ll also have you covered. We are featuring, among others, retellings of Little Women, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, Sherlock Holmes, and at least four separate retellings of Pride and Prejudice.
Don’t tell anyone, but my favorite type of retelling is probably fairy tales. They may take my degree in classical studies away for not picking the mythology, but I find that fairy tales can be the most fun because we all know what to expect. It's just so entertaining when the author plays into our expectations and flips the whole story on its head. If you’re also a fan of this type of retelling, I highly recommend The Lunar Chronicles series. They are a sci-fi retelling of the most famous fairy tales and every single one of them hits it out of the park. Cinder is a gifted mechanic and a cyborg. Scarlet is trying to find her grandmother and the only person who seems to have any information is a street fighter called Wolf. Cress has lived her entire life imprisoned in a satellite with nothing but screens for companionship, which has made her a phenomenal hacker. Princess Winter is admired for her grace, kindness and beauty, despite the scars on her face, some even say she’s more breathtaking than her stepmother, Queen Levana. In the end all the heroes must come together to defeat the evil queen who rules the moon. Seriously, if you’re not interested just off of that I don’t know what to tell you.
If you’re ready for a tale retold, come into the library between now and August 15th to see our Myths and Classics Remix display. It’s located on the second floor, near the Reference desk. If you have questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to talk to us. We can be reached by phone at (765)362-2242 or by email at ref@cdpl.lib.in.us.

Emma Lashley is a Library Assistant in Reference and Local History at CDPL