It occurred to me that it would be good to give my readers a brief overview of the books I use as sources of myths. In general, I look for books that emphasize the text of the myths over author commentary. I find that author commentary often gets in the way of my own interpretation of the myth. I want a clean slate to look it over and make up my own mind.
I tend to favor books that offer up translation notes, explaining the different possible meanings of particular phrases, and why the author elected on a particular translation over another. I find it fascinating to consider the different possibilities that other word choices can evoke.
While I don’t want author commentary and interpretations throughout the myths, I do like some essays regarding the culture of origin or the time period of the myths. The extra context provokes a line of interpretational thought without tainting the myth itself.
Single culture anthologies are great, and usually fairly comprehensive. They frequently have a wide selection of complete myths that connect with one another along cultural themes. Multi-culture anthologies are hit or miss. The ones that don’t have author commentary and interpretation will frequently abridge their myths, which can change the context of the myth dramatically.
I avoid textbooks like the plague. In addition to blatant author commentary every step of the way, they abridge myths, create vocabulary lists, and only offer up easy questions of fact instead of complex questions of culture and explanation. All of the (supposed) student material leads to bloat in both page count and price. I assign four books for my mythology classes, which total ~$70 brand new (about half that if they use their own Bible) while my peers frequently use a single textbook ranging from $70-$150 that have far fewer and less complete myths.