You may not want to spend hours reading about Shakespeare, and why would you when there are so many plays to watch? But, if you are looking to get a little more comfortable in his world, these are some great places to start.
A Reader’s Guide to Shakespeare, by Joseph Rosenblum – A summary of the plays with commentary by a Professor and lover of Shakespeare
Contested Will Who Wrote Shakespeare by James Shapiro – Tell five people you are learning about Shakespeare, and at least two (depending on the type of people you associate with) that someone else wrote the plays. This books breaks down these arguments and shows why they started in the first place. It is one of my favorite reads.
Shakespeare on Toast by Ben Crystal – I highly recommend this series if you want to jump right into Shakespeare’s work. This is a great introduction for college kids and adults looking to get up to speed quickly. The books are funny and educational.
If you want to learn more about the time and place that shaped Shakepeare’s world I highly recommend Nel MacGregor’s Shakespeare’s Restless World (it’s a great short podcast too!) a
For those looking to take a deep dive into the world of Shakespeare
Dan Falk The Science of Shakespeare a new look at the Playwright’s Universe
Hannah Crewforth, Sarah Dustagheer & Jennifer Young Shakespeare in London
Stephen Greenblatt Hamlet in Purgatory
Jack Lynch Becoming Shakespeare
R E Pritchard Shakespeare’s England, Life in Elizabethan & Jacobean Times
Jonathan Bate Shakespeare and Ovid (another favorite of mine)
And of course, all of William Shakespeare’s plays & poems. The best approach to Shakespeare is just diving in and reading for yourself. Soon, you’ll understand what all of the fuss is about.