Bookshelf

  1. Currently Reading:
    Cover of King Lear

    King Lear

    by William Shakespeare
  2. Cover of Twelth Night

    Twelth Night

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    Twelth Night

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
    Classic Shakespearean comic tropes, deftly executed. Not one of my favorites, but plenty enjoyable.
  3. Cover of Much Ado About Nothing

    Much Ado About Nothing

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Much Ado About Nothing

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    One of the best comedy plays, with a rather intricate plot and little of the formula that governs most of the others. I read the scenes between Beatrice and Benedick as a forerunner to the screwball comedies of the early twentieth century. And the character of Dogberry is a sort of silly that is timelessly funny,

  4. Cover of Othello

    Othello

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Othello

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    I've always enjoyed Shakespeare's villains. He paints them with such texture, such depth. You can really revel in Richard III's Machiavelian scheming or feel yourself sinking into Macbeth's guilt-haunted madness. And I enjoy Iago as well, but Othello is the most painful story to witness.

    Shakespeare starts the play by showing you an unlikely couple who struggles against difficult odds to be together, only for us to watch Iago destroy them both utterly, without mercy or even much explanation beyond his own slighted ego. And it's all the worse because every other character believes him to be the most trustworthy and honorable of friends.

    So perhaps of all the Bard's tragedies, this is the most tragic. It's also among the best paced and best structured. And Act IV Scene III is among the most emotionally gutting things ever written.

  5. Cover of As You Like It

    As You Like It

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    As You Like It

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

    I'd consider As You Like It to be one of the best of the comedies. It certainly features some of the Bard's most famous turns of phrase and most eloquent speeches. The plot does meander quite a bit, but, with the help of an actual deus ex machina, everything comes together at the end and none of the threads are left dangling.

    Among the most interesting aspects of the play is Shakespeare's particularly meta-level play with gender. Toward the end, you have the boy actor who would have played the female Rosalind, masquerading as male Ganymede (a name with homoerotic mythological origins), who is play acting as a female love interest for her own unwitting lover, whilst also becoming the love interest of a female character (again acted by a boy). One can't help but wonder whether Shakespeare was just having fun or there was more behind it. (Given his sonnets, it's not unreasonable to guess that there might be.)

  6. Cover of Henry VIII

    Henry VIII

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★

    Henry VIII

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

    This one is a very middle-of-the-pack Shakespeare work. There are plenty of dramatic scenes and arresting turns of phrase, but there's really no character central enough to be considered a protagonist, no one to whom the audience ever really feels a sense of attachment. It's as though you can feel the Bard treading ever so gingerly through the messy tale of Queen Elizabeth's parentage, lest he should run afoul of his sovereign's good graces. Indeed, the play's end leans heavily into Elizabethan propaganda.

    Not that I blame Shakespeare for that. His shrewdness was certainly a part of his success. But it does mean that this particular play is more interesting as a historical artifact than as a work of drama.

  7. Cover of The Merchant of Venice

    The Merchant of Venice

    by William Shakespeare
  8. Cover of The Comedy of Errors

    The Comedy of Errors

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★

    The Comedy of Errors

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
    I don’t know if I wasn’t in the mood or if maybe this kind of comedy plays better on stage than on the page, but this quintessential Shakespearian farce of lookalikes and mistaken identities just didn’t land for me.
  9. Cover of Pericles

    Pericles

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★

    Pericles

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
    A minor Shakespeare work for a reason. This one is thought to likely be a collaboration and it shows in its lack of Shakespearean depth of character and interiority. Still, interesting for a completionist like myself.
  10. Cover of Richard III

    Richard III

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Richard III

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    I love Shakespeare’s great villains and Richard III is one of the greatest of them all. Unapologetically evil, it’s a joy to watch him scheme, lie, and murder his way to the top (though his subsequent downfall feels a bit rushed and perfunctory, as if the bard knew he had gotten past the juicy bits and was eager to wrap it up). On this read I really noticed how much House of Cards and even A Song of Ice and Fire draw elements from it.
  11. Cover of Antony and Cleopatra

    Antony and Cleopatra

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Antony and Cleopatra

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    Continuing my Shakespeare reading project, this particular play has always been a personal favorite. The titular characters are so fully realized, mercurial and tragic, that I really love them for all their flaws. Reading it this time, I kept picturing it filmed as a space opera with larger than life production design!
  12. Cover of The Winter's Tale

    The Winter's Tale

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★

    The Winter's Tale

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
    This is an interesting one. The first half is almost all drama and the second half mostly comedy, with a big time jump in the middle. I prefer the former, a portrait of someone mad with jealousy destroying himself and all he holds dear.
  13. Cover of King Henry VI, Part 3

    King Henry VI, Part 3

    by William Shakespeare
  14. Cover of Measure for Measure

    Measure for Measure

    by William Shakespeare
  15. Cover of Julius Caesar

    Julius Caesar

    by William Shakespeare
  16. Cover of King Henry VI, Part 2

    King Henry VI, Part 2

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  17. Cover of Timon of Athens

    Timon of Athens

    by William Shakespeare
  18. Cover of The Two Gentlemen of Verona

    The Two Gentlemen of Verona

    by William Shakespeare
  19. Cover of Henry VI, Part 1

    Henry VI, Part 1

    by William Shakespeare
  20. Cover of Titus Andronicus

    Titus Andronicus

    by William Shakespeare
  21. Cover of Henry V

    Henry V

    by William Shakespeare
  22. Cover of The Merry Wives of Windsor

    The Merry Wives of Windsor

    by William Shakespeare
  23. Cover of Cymbeline

    Cymbeline

    by William Shakespeare
  24. Cover of Henry IV, Part 2

    Henry IV, Part 2

    by William Shakespeare
  25. Cover of King Henry IV, Part 1

    King Henry IV, Part 1

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  26. Cover of The Taming of the Shrew

    The Taming of the Shrew

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★
  27. Cover of A Midsummer Night's Dream

    A Midsummer Night's Dream

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  28. Cover of Coriolanus

    Coriolanus

    by William Shakespeare
  29. Cover of Richard II

    Richard II

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  30. Cover of Troilus and Cressida

    Troilus and Cressida

    by William Shakespeare
  31. Cover of King John

    King John

    by William Shakespeare
  32. Macbeth

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  33. Hamlet

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  34. The Complete Works

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  35. The Tempest

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  36. Shakespeare's Sonnets

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  37. Romeo and Juliet

    by William Shakespeare
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★