Wish Shakespeare a happy birthday with one of these retellings

Happy birthday, Shakespeare! Maybe. If a bunch of old records are correct. Who’s to say? We’ll never know. Well, we’re celebrating either way by picking up one of these retellings of some of his greatest hits!

Romeo and Juliet

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

The year is 1926, and a blood feud between two gangs leaves the city helpless. Juliette Cai, a former flapper, has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang — a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal. But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Juliette and Roma must set their guns — and grudges — aside and work together.

Teach the Torches To Burn by Caleb Roehrig

Aspiring artist Romeo is expected to give up his “womanly” pursuits and uphold the family honor. He is also expected to marry a well-bred girl, but he only feels attracted to other boys. When he meets the kindest, most beautiful boy, a tender romance begins. As the conflict between their families escalates, Romeo and Valentine find themselves in danger of losing each other forever — if not by society’s scorn, then by the edge of a blade.

The Taming of the Shrew

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work. Dr. Battista has other problems. After years, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. But his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost. Dr. Battista is relying on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: This time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign?

King Lear

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

A wealthy Iowa farmer who decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. When the youngest daughter objects, she is cut out of his will, setting off a chain of events that brings dark truths to light and explodes long-suppressed emotions. 

Much Ado About Nothing

Two Wrongs Make A Right by Chloe Liese

Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all — a need for revenge. Soon their plan is in place: Fake date then break up spectacularly and dash everyone’s hopes. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder: what if two wrongs do make a right?

Antony and Cleopatra

The Stars Undying by Emery Robin

Princess Altagracia has lost everything. After a bloody civil war, her twin sister has claimed both the crown of their planet, Szayet, and a computer that contains the immortal soul of Szayet’s god. To regain her planet, Gracia places herself in the hands of the empire and its dangerous commander, Matheus Ceirran. But winning over Matheus, to say nothing of his mercurial and compelling captain Anita, is no easy feat. Gracia will find herself torn between Matheus’s ambitions, Anita’s unpredictable desires, and the demands of the Pearl that whispers in her ear.


The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye

Ben Dane’s Broadway theater baron father is dead — but on purpose or by accident? Unable to face alone his mother’s ghastly remarriage to his uncle, Ben turns to his dearest friend, Horatio Patel, whom he hasn’t seen since their relationship changed forever from platonic to something…other. Meanwhile, Ben’s ex-fiancé, Lia, sundered her from her loved ones thanks to her addiction recovery and torn from her art, has been drawn into the fold of three florists from New Orleans. On one explosive night these kinetic forces will collide, and the only possible outcome is death. 

The Death I Gave Him by Em X. Lu

Hayden Lichfield’s life is ripped apart when he finds his father murdered in their lab — the killer can only have been after one thing: the Sisyphus Formula, which might one day reverse death itself. With the lab on lockdown, Hayden is trapped with his uncle Charles, lab technician Gabriel Rasmussen, research intern Felicia Xia and their head of security, Felicia’s father Paul — one of whom must be the killer. His only sure ally is the lab’s resident artificial intelligence, Horatio, who has been his dear friend and companion since its creation. 

The Tempest

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Felix is at the top of his game as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, but it will also heal emotional wounds. That was the plan, but after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And brewing revenge, which, after twelve years, arrives in the shape of a theater course at a nearby prison.

The Winter’s Tale

The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

Moving from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia, this story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. It is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.

Looking for more reading lists? Check out our recommendations on our Lit Happens blog!