Begin with the Bard: My Shakespeare Reading Plan

bard2013Happy New Year! I’m ready for 2013.

I am ready to read Shakespeare. For my Begin with the Bard plan, I hope to read two or three nonfiction/commentary books about the man, read two to four plays, and watch a few movie versions as well. I hope as I have as much fun as I did last year!

I am giving myself until the end of February to see how much I can get through. I’d love to have company! Please join me if you’d like.



Shakespeare on Toast by Ben Crystal. This is written for young adults who may feel intimidated by Shakespeare. I am reading a digital review copy via netgalley.

Shakespeare’s Common Prayers by Daniel Swift. I received this also as a digital review copy last year, but I did not have a chance to get to it. It is an examination of the impact of the Book of Common Prayer on Shakespeare’s writing. I am fascinated to learn about all the sources that may have impacted the Bard, so this should be interesting. It’s definitely a more scholarly and serious book than my other nonfiction choice above.

Any other nonfiction books you could recommend? Maybe something in between light and serious?

Plays and Movies

I believe I’d liked to focus on comedies this year. Last year I read the three Henry VI plays. It was a wonderful, but I’m hoping my reading this year is a bit more amusing. On my maybe list are the following works:

Love’s Labour’s Lost (1598) and the Kenneth Branagh movie (2000)

Comedy of Errors (1590s) and Big Business (with Bette Middler and Lily Tomlin, 1988)

A Midsummer Nights’ Dream (1590s), maybe just the 1999 movie

Twelfth Night (1601) and maybe a movie version as well (suggestion)

All’s Well the Ends Well (1604) and the BBC Shakespeare version (unless you can suggest a better one?)

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. Thank you for the heads up about Shakespeare’s Common Prayers by Daniel Swift.
    I am very interested in interdiscursivity, and this, I am sure, will make for an enlightening read.

  2. I hadn’t thought of the impact the Book of Common Prayer might have had, what an interesting angle to take! I don’t know about non-fiction, but Comedy of Errors is great fun.

  3. Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Guide for the Attention-Impaired [abridged] is an excellent (and hilarious) introduction to Shakespeare. What we know about the guy, what the plays are about, which movies are worth watching, if Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare who did? Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: The World As Stage is another excellent one.

  4. My Shakespeare plan for the year is to continue with my Shakespeare-reading project that I began in 2008 FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE (I cannot believe how long I’ve let this sit around), and then to read the book I’ve been saving up for myself for nearly as long. It’s A.D. Nuttall’s Shakespeare the Thinker in case you are curious. I haven’t read that one yet, but I’ve read other books by Nuttall and absolutely loved the way he writes.

  5. Two suggestions: William Hazlitt’s essays on Shakespeare – written almost two hundred years ago, but very nice, thematic introductions to individual plays. And, if you’d really like to get your teeth into something – Harold Bloom’s “Shakespeare: Inventing the Human”.

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