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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Book Recommendations for National Shakespeare Day

By Megan Cradock, Caroline Dowse, Ana Cecilia Matute, Konstantopoulou, Zalak Shah

Celebrated on 24 April, the date of both his birth and death, National Shakespeare Day honours William Shakespeare, prolific English playwright and poet of the Renaissance. Widely known, his plays and sonnets remain firm favourites of many, and his work has been adapted many times for book, stage and screen. Today, authors continue to transform and reimagine these tales anew. Below are some reading recommendations based on the best of the Bard. “To be or not to be, that is the question  will these books make it to your reading list?

Enjoyed the star-crossed romance in Romeo and Juliet? Try These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong.

In this memorable interpretation of Shakespeare’s well-known tragic tale, the year is 1926 and Shanghai is a city caught in a tug-of-war between different powers all fighting for control. The streets are violent from the long, ongoing blood feud between the Scarlet Gang (led by Lord Cai) and the White Flowers (led by Lord Montagov), each prepared to shoot on sight to protect their territory. Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov are no different. The heirs of their respective families, they're enemies and out for blood. Except, four years ago, they were once in love.

But now there's a new danger in Shanghai: a monster is killing people, no matter their gang allegiance. Roma and Juliette must work together if they want to protect their loved ones and their city – but the past never remains in the past, and violent delights always have violent ends.


Would you like something humorous? Then try Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett, a fantastical parody of Macbeth

We all know that Shakespeare can be a tough read, and Wyrd Sisters is a light-hearted take on one of the Bard’s darker plays.

Part of Pratchett’s hugely successful Discworld series, the story is based on Macbeth and it flips the original plot. Duke Felmet takes the throne of Lancre by murdering the king, assisted by his ambitious wife, Lady Felmet. The king’s toddler son is smuggled out of the castle and helped to escape by three witches – Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. As Felmet’s murderous reign starts to harm the kingdom, the witches must restore the rightful heir to the throne to save it.

It is Duke Felmet who is driven mad by visions of blood on his hands, while Lady Felmet is determined to hold on to power at all costs. Told from the point of view of the witches, this is a great contemporary version of an old tale.


Loved The Tempest? Dive deep into Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood.

Revenge is one of the most important topics in The Tempest, and Atwood explores it again in this contemporary novel about an artistic director who is producing the play The Tempest when he is suddenly fired. After this, he decides to isolate himself in the Canadian countryside and start planning his revenge.

Shakespeare’s work is reconfigured here, allowing the reader to explore multiple topics in a new scenario where the protagonist, Felix, experiences the same play he wanted to produce.

Are the politics and family drama of King Lear your cup of tea? Then pick up We That are Young by Preti Taneja.


Set in modern-day Delhi, this retelling of King Lear is a definite page-turner. Devraj Bapuji is a business tycoon, the elitest of the elites and comes from royalty. When Devraj decides to retire and divide his massive empire among his three daughters Gargi, Radha and Sita, what starts is a tale of rivalry, betrayal, struggles for power and brutality.


We That are Young paints a stark picture of the contrast between the privileged and the marginalised sections of Delhi's society. We are exposed to a world where money and power drive people’s morality. Characters are unapologetic about their ambitions. When challenged, how far will someone go to achieve their desires? Written through a feminist lens, this book offers a compelling narrative of greed, corruption and identity.


How many times have you felt estranged from yourself? However big or small the number is, let Krystle Zara alleviate that feeling.

Rootless is the type of novel that will stir up emotions while taking you on a rollercoaster ride through the fast-paced plot. The author employs the technique of narrating in a ‘back-and-forth’ motion, using flashbacks and memories to fill in the gaps until the reader understands the ending, which is situated in the present. This phenomenon can be found in Shakespeare’s play Comedy of Errors, which also grapples with the thematic aspects of self-estrangement and alienation created by life’s circumstances. 

The importance of human relationships and their impact is equally highlighted in both works. The protagonist in the contemporary novel fears motherhood just as much as she desires to find herself. Written in honest words and from a feminist perspective, the novel is as refreshing as it is raw. 



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