Inspired by Shakespeare: Books for the Ides of March

March 8, 2021 | M. Elwood

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"Ides" refers to a day in the middle of the month, often a day when debts are due. In Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, a soothsayer warns the title character to "beware the Ides of March". He should have paid attention. On that particular March 15 things escalated quickly and Caesar was assassinated by a group of senators he trusted.  

With these innovative adaptations of Shakespeare's plays you don't need to fear the Ides of March – or any other day. Although it's always sensible to avoid meetings that may turn violent.   

Hamlet

Nutshell

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Hamlet, a fetus, on the brink of birth, describes what is going on outside the womb – including a sinister plan orchestrated by its mother and a mysterious collaborator. 

Other books inspired by Hamlet:

Read the original:

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare

 

Julius Caesar

The ides of march

The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder tells the story of Julius Caesar through letters and documents in this epistolary novel.

Read the original:

 

King Lear

Fool christopher moore

Fool by Christopher Moore

A humorous retelling of King Lear from the perspective of Pocket, the king's fool who describes how the kingdom became divided and Lear descended into madness. Followed by sequels: The Serpent of Venice and Shakespeare for Squirrels based on The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Other books inspired by King Lear:

Read the original:

 

Macbeth

Macbeth

Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

Norwegian crime writer Nesbo transports Shakespeare's play to 1970s Scotland where crime and corruption are out of control. Powerful drug lord Hecate wants police commissioner Duncan out of the way, so he manipulates Macbeth, head of the SWAT team, to do his bidding. 

Other books inspired by Macbeth:

Read the original:

 

A Midsummer Night's Dream 

The great night

The Great Night by Chris Adrian

A faerie kingdom is secretly located in a San Francisco park. When faerie queen Titania releases Puck, an ancient demon, three heartbroken humans and a group of homeless actors are trapped in the park. 

Other books inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream 

Read the original:

 

Othello

New boy

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

This story of 11-year-olds torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal takes Othello and transports it to a 1970s elementary school. As a diplomat's son, Osei Kokote is used to being uprooted; it's his first day in another new school – this time in Washington, DC – where he is not only the new kid but also the only Black student. He is quickly befriended by Dee, a beautiful and popular girl. Dee and O's friendship sparks anger in Ian, a school bully who does not approve of the relationship. 

Read the original:

 

Richard III

Daughter of time

Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

This is considered one of the best mystery stories of the 20th century. In it Alan Grant, a bedridden detective is given a “case” to distract him while he’s recovering from an injury. His companions bring him history books and “witnesses” to interview as he tries to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Princes in the Tower. It can be argued that this book was actually inspired by the real life Richard III rather than the play but it’s a good read anyway. 

Read the original:

 

Romeo and Juliet

Prince of cats

The Prince of Cats by Ronald Wimberley

This retelling of Romeo and Juliet changes the setting to 1980s Brooklyn and re-imagines the Montagues and Capulets as rival street gangs. Tybalt is the main character in this wholly original graphic novel. 

Other books inspired by Romeo and Juliet:

Read the original:

 

The Tempest

Dream of perpetual motion

The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer

Who doesn't need a steampunk marriage of The Tempest and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Greeting card writer Harry Winslow has been imprisoned on a zeppelin. Alone except for the disembodied voice of his beloved Miranda and the cryogenically frozen corpse of her father Prospero he tells the story of how he got to this place. Reviewers seem to either love or hate this book. 

Other books inspired by The Tempest:

Read the original:

 


 

What other adaptations of Shakespeare's work would you recommend? Share in the comments below.

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