Firstly a book should have a bibliography, if it doesn't the text is useless as you don't know where the information has come from. Secondly read the bibliographies of books you have liked, there may be a few books which are mentioned in all of them, which you can track down. Books turn up in some funny places, not all of them are in Waterstones or WHSmith's. I have found them in Oxfam, at jumble sales and at other charity shops, so do look around. If the book is too expensive for you, put it on your Christmas list and see what happens! If Parents, Guardians or friends object to you learning about this subject, please be patient, they are probably scared (and possibly uneducated) about you learning about runes. There are still people out there who are convinced that runes are Satanic in origin. They also may be simply downright stubborn in their opinions. If you really still want to learn about them, in time you will and perhaps be able to educate those around you. Thirdly, if there is a brilliant book which is not on these lists please E - Mail me with details. Books are hard to find on this subject and I may not have heard of it yet. This would help as, if it is brilliant, I'll put it on the lists and we can all build a good comprehensive start for beginners and advanced students alike.
Not all the books I have ever read on this subject are listed here, just the one's that I think will help people at the different stages.
Books will be listed as: Author,(surname and then first initial) Title, Publisher,Last known price in brackets, Year of publication, ISBN (funny number which is unique to each book, very useful if you want to track a copy down.) and a bit about each one.
Arcarti, K. (a Beginners Guide) Runes
Hodder & Stoughton (£5.99) 1999
A modern view which is very good for beginners. Simple, clear chapters with easy to find sections. This book is good because it doesn't force you to do things one particular way, but gives a range of ideas for a beginner to try out.
Blum, R. The New Book of Runes
Headline Book Publishing plc (19.99 for the Book of Runes by the same author) 1991
CN 9695 (I think this comes in a kit form with a set of runes)
This is the book I started with, hence my copy is now very well thumbed. The information is clear and really does make sense, even if Christianity does come in a little bit. The author takes a gentle approach to learning, hence no colour pictures or hype. I regard it as one of the best short books to start with.
Pennick, N. The Complete Illustrated Guide to Runes
Element Books Ltd (£14.99) 1999
This book is a little more expensive (currently £14.99) but well worth it. The format is easy to read, there are lots of examples and illustrations and the book covers many of the aspects in a little detail instead of focusing on one. An excellent one to start with, if you can afford it.
Osborne, M. and Longhand, S. Rune Games
Thetford Press Ltd (?) 1982
This may be difficult to get hold of, as I think it is out of print now. The authors translate the Anglo Saxon rune poem and give you the original text along with a shortened dictionary so you can try and work it out for yourself. They describe the connection between runes and animals, trees and the world as it was without being too condescending about it.
Page, R. (Reading the Past) Runes
British Museum Publications Ltd (£6.99) 1989
This book concerns itself mainly with translating the runes as a written script. The author chooses to ignore their possible use as charms and their use in religion and 'magic' and just concentrates on translating the inscriptions into English. He does cite the problems in doing this, but essentially remains an academic.
Page,R,I Introduction to English Runes
--- (£30!) 1999 (reprinted)
This book is brilliant! Although the author does advocate that they where only used as a writing script and are nothing to do with ancient or modern 'magic'. The book is split into chapters which read like mini essays on each subject. The photographs are clear and consise and the subject matter is very well written. If you can stand the price tag, this one is definitely worth it!
Pennick, N. Rune Magic
Thorsons: Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers (£8.99) 1995
Nigel Pennick has written a few volumes on this subject. This one is good because it takes the reader through the history, uses and modern interpretations. Can be a bit heavy if you are only just starting out.
Willis, T. The Runic Workbook
Aquarian Press (?) 1986
OR Willis,T Discover Runes:Understanding and Using the Power of Runes
The Aquarian Press (£6.99) 1991 1-85538-072-2
(This is the re-edition of the Runic Workbook)
These are good general books, which give chapters to work through in learning about runes. They are both easy to work through, focusing more on Divination and magic than runes in history as a written script. The author does cover the use of the Anglo Saxon runes in divination, bindrunes and runescripts. Watch out for the runes and other divination systems(flowers, gemstones etc) Hmmm. Not sure about that, but not a bad book otherwise.
Aswynn, F. Leaves of Yggdrasil
Jannson, S. The Runes of Sweden
Phoenix House Ltd (?) 1962
No ISBN found
This small volume is essentially a list of the rune stones of Sweden. The photos are quite small in some cases, but the reading is good. The only manageable volume I have found detailing some of the more well known stones.
Page, R. Runes and Runic Inscriptions
The Boydell Press (paperback £25, Hardback £50!) 1995
This book is full of specific essays on different aspects of the subject. Mostly covers the Runes on historical objects and documents. A bit more heavy going than most, although the information is sound once you can understand it.
Pennick, N. Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition
Sterling Publishing Co (£11.95) 1989
Mr Pennick sneaks in yet again. His books are really quite good, though
There are rune references throughout this book, it's good if you want to explore the 'Northern Tradition' side of using runes. It cites ceremonies, practices and customs used in the modern day religion. Not really a rune book, but it has a lot of references. Good for seeing how the runes can be used in the present.
Ravenwolf, S and Jackson, N. Witches Runes
Llewellyn Publications (Known as the Witches Runes Kit @ £23.90?!) 1996
Some readers may recognise the name of Silver Ravenwolf, a lady who has done much to promote the Wiccan religion amongst the next generation. This set includes a book and a set of rune cards, which may not be everyone's cup of tea to use. The cards are nice but I personally cannot use them as well as my own set of runes. Some people may prefer using cards to runes of clay, metal or stone. Personal preference is a wonderful thing…
Rodrigues, L. Anglo Saxon Verse Runes
Llanerch Publishers (£7.95) 1992
The author is a specialist in Anglo Saxon written texts, there are another 4 books in the series if you want to investigate further. He does provide the poems in their original form, along with a modern translation.
ONES TO AVOID -
Baggot, A. Runes
Lorenz Books (£3.95) 1999 1-85967-899-8
Some nice colour pictures, but the author cites using them as part of his Celtic belief system. There are some basic meanings, though there are much better books out there than this.
Luxon, B. Rune Stones
Greenwich Editions (£2.99) 1997
Possibly the worst book out! It contains no history, no bibliography and the author cites 'experts' without referencing them! This book seems to treat them as a women's magazine coffee break subject, there are no defined meanings past the basics. The author is a tarot reader who has 'migrated' to runes with very little success.