Best Books About Shakespeare

Bardolatry come alive!

Please feel free to add any and all books about Shakespeare — though not his own plays.

Nonfiction only, please.

1

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3.80 avg rating — 10,866 ratings
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2

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3.79 avg rating — 42,138 ratings
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3

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4.09 avg rating — 3,256 ratings
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4

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4.03 avg rating — 3,361 ratings
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5

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4.38 avg rating — 979 ratings
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6

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 1,909 ratings
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7

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4.55 avg rating — 4,290 ratings
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8

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4.26 avg rating — 796 ratings
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9

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4.02 avg rating — 1,511 ratings
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10

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4.15 avg rating — 649 ratings
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11

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4.12 avg rating — 711 ratings
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12

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4.35 avg rating — 540 ratings
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13

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4.20 avg rating — 65 ratings
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14

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3.76 avg rating — 686 ratings
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15

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4.05 avg rating — 1,901 ratings
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16

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3.97 avg rating — 357 ratings
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17

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4.20 avg rating — 1,056 ratings
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18

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3.87 avg rating — 371 ratings
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19

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4.04 avg rating — 161 ratings
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20

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it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 2 ratings
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21

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4.23 avg rating — 13 ratings
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22

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4.21 avg rating — 78 ratings
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23

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4.30 avg rating — 20 ratings
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24

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4.81 avg rating — 227 ratings
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25

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3.86 avg rating — 116 ratings
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26

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4.28 avg rating — 43 ratings
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27

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3.92 avg rating — 259 ratings
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28

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4.23 avg rating — 56 ratings
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29

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3.90 avg rating — 430 ratings
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30

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4.09 avg rating — 113 ratings
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31

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3.81 avg rating — 21 ratings
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32

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4.18 avg rating — 300 ratings
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33

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4.12 avg rating — 1,031 ratings
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34

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4.67 avg rating — 15 ratings
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35

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4.18 avg rating — 161 ratings
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35

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4.80 avg rating — 15 ratings
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35

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4.27 avg rating — 624 ratings
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38

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4.25 avg rating — 16 ratings
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39

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3.71 avg rating — 24 ratings
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40

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4.43 avg rating — 28 ratings
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41

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4.17 avg rating — 172 ratings
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42

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 69 ratings
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43

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3.74 avg rating — 19 ratings
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44

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3.93 avg rating — 849 ratings
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45

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3.72 avg rating — 118 ratings
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46

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3.61 avg rating — 31 ratings
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47

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 5 ratings
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48

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3.80 avg rating — 5 ratings
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49

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 8 ratings
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50

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4.14 avg rating — 7 ratings
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51

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4.03 avg rating — 379 ratings
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52

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4.43 avg rating — 337 ratings
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52

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3.63 avg rating — 27 ratings
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54

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liked it 3.00 avg rating — 5 ratings
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54

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3.92 avg rating — 50 ratings
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56

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3.60 avg rating — 253 ratings
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56

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4.60 avg rating — 10 ratings
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56

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3.87 avg rating — 30 ratings
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56

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4.12 avg rating — 296 ratings
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56

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4.24 avg rating — 63 ratings
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61

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4.31 avg rating — 144 ratings
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61

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3.76 avg rating — 94 ratings
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63

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4.35 avg rating — 20 ratings
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64

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3.78 avg rating — 45 ratings
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64

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3.92 avg rating — 441 ratings
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66

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 1 rating
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67

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4.09 avg rating — 143 ratings
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67

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4.49 avg rating — 43 ratings
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69

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4.33 avg rating — 6 ratings
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70

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3.95 avg rating — 66 ratings
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70

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4.08 avg rating — 291 ratings
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72

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3.75 avg rating — 4 ratings
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73

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3.76 avg rating — 17 ratings
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74

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3.76 avg rating — 168 ratings
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75

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4.11 avg rating — 131 ratings
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76

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3.57 avg rating — 81 ratings
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77

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3.96 avg rating — 47 ratings
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78

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3.45 avg rating — 58 ratings
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79

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4.35 avg rating — 85 ratings
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80

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3.77 avg rating — 161 ratings
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81

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3.78 avg rating — 1,123 ratings
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82

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4.13 avg rating — 15 ratings
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83

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4.03 avg rating — 139 ratings
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84

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4.15 avg rating — 34 ratings
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85

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4.11 avg rating — 19 ratings
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86

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3.89 avg rating — 64 ratings
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87

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3.77 avg rating — 26 ratings
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87

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4.14 avg rating — 7 ratings
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87

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3.84 avg rating — 37 ratings
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90

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3.48 avg rating — 27 ratings
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91

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3.30 avg rating — 10 ratings
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92

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3.67 avg rating — 51 ratings
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93

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liked it 3.00 avg rating — 2 ratings
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94

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3.50 avg rating — 4 ratings
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94

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3.89 avg rating — 19 ratings
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96

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4.12 avg rating — 90 ratings
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97

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 13 ratings
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98

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4.29 avg rating — 17 ratings
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98

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3.33 avg rating — 100 ratings
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98

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3.71 avg rating — 51 ratings
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253 books · 165 voters · list created August 31st, 2009 by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (votes) .
74 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) 546 books
371 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 3264 books
861 friends
Thom 6023 books
304 friends
Richard 2434 books
263 friends
Pavel 1233 books
270 friends
Nastja 4473 books
151 friends
Bettie 15637 books
124 friends
Reese 1107 books
32 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Richard (new)

Richard Wow, I'd love to be able to comment on this, but I'm still reading my first from this list, so I have no basis for comparison about "best".

Too bad there's no way of annotating the list with brief overviews of each book's function and scope. Yeah, those can mostly be had from the individual book pages, but I'd happily peruse a one-stop-shopping catalog.


message 2: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn I tried to add one of my favorites, Marchette Chute's Shakespeare of London, but it didn't seem to take.


message 3: by Richard (new)

Richard Sure it did. It appears up near the top for me, without a cover image. You may have to reload the page to see it?


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) You can add comments on each book when you vote, I think (or even afterwards -- your personal list, created from the books you voted on, should be showing on the right side of the screen, and should show an "add a comment" option or some such thing). I may add comments of my own on some of the books later on -- first wanted to get the list out, though, and was curious to see what books others might want to add (and of course, how the order of books on the list is going to change as, hopefully, more and more people add books and vote on the list).

Pity the Marchette Chute Shakespeare doesn't seem to be in print any longer, Thom, isn't it? Another one they should have resurrected long ago ...


message 5: by Richard (new)

Richard I tried adding a comment to the only book on my list, but it not only doesn't reliably come back onto my right-side list when I refresh the page, it doesn't seem to show up anywhere else.

If you click on the "2 people voted >>" link you get clued into who voted for it, but not why.

What I'd prefer to see would be some sort of comment area under each book (maybe a mini-wiki?) that allows folks to briefly contrast each book as they scan down the listing.

Oh, in case it disappears permanently, my comment for Shakespeare the Thinker is
Thoughtful — if sometimes overly academic — examination of why Shakespeare is thought to have pioneered so many subtlies and complexities of the theater. Explores some tidbits from individual plays, and other dramatic gambits the bard used and developed across many plays. At some point in the book, almost every play is touched upon.



Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Yes, I agree, I would be interesting to see people's comments. I thought that's what would happen if you use the "add a comment" option! Thanks for copying yours into your above message ...


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Yeah, I love Marchette Chute's biographies of Chaucer and Ben Jonson - don't think we have her bio of Shakespeare, unfortunately.


message 8: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn The plates and apparatus iNSIDE the Riverside Shakespeare make it a book "ON" Shakespeare as well as an addition. Similarly, a facsim of F1 has all that front matter which constitutes most of what we know about him. Is there a book to accompany Michael Wood's TV show ? The best stuff still turns up here and there. In The Story of English, they tell of finding two guys in Warwickshire making fence posts. Asked what they were doing, one said: Oh, HE ROUGH-HEWS THEM AND I SHAPE THEIR ENDS endquote.............!!!



message 9: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Sep 02, 2009 06:23AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Good points, Thom, I've included both the Riverside Shakespeare and a facsimile of the First Folio. Was going to go through my stuff again and add a few more items to the list anyway! The companion book to Michael Wood's TV program is already on the list (currently no. 21). That program made me regret I couldn't include any DVDs ... !!

The divinity of making fence posts? Well, why not, if all Caesar and Alexander are good for in the end is to provide clay for stopping bung holes ... right?


message 10: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Horatio says "Twere to consider too curiously to consider so." Horatio somewhat blinkered in his speculation. Whitman said "Look for me on your bootsoles". I'll forgo the privilege and just assume he's there. Harlow Shapley, the learn-ed astronomer, calculated that with each breath we take in some 15 atoms of the very air breathed by Jesus. Just one big happy bio-mass. --Later, Thom


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Well, if that means I get to inhale some 15 atoms of the very air breathed by Shakespeare, too, I'll gladly settle for that ...

"I put my hand down on Jane's desk and bring it up covered with dust. Oh that some of her genius might rub off on me! One would have imagined the devoted female custodian going round with her duster at least every other day." (Barbara Pym, on a visit to Jane Austen's home -- diary entry of August 11, 1943.)


message 12: by Bill (last edited Jul 15, 2014 09:43PM) (new)

Bill Calvert Two books that I would recommend are : "Shakespeare's Wife" by Germaine Greer, an excellent look at domestic life in Shakespeare's England, and "Shakespeare And The Goddess Of Complete Being", a madly personal, eccentric and intriguing analysis of the complete Shakespearean canon by poet Ted Hughes


message 13: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Bill wrote: "Two books that I would recommend are : "Shakespeare's Wife" by Germaine Greer, an excellent look at domestic life in Shakespeare's England, and "Shakespeare And The Goddess Of Complete Being", a ma..."

Thanks for the recommendations, Bill. Both sound excellent.


message 14: by Lori (last edited Sep 12, 2016 12:30PM) (new)

Lori Mulligan Davis One of my top ten books for that Deserted Island all book lovers yearn for is "The Meaning of Shakespeare" by Harold Clarke Goddard. I'm sure Harold Bloom would have it on his list. He praises Goddard in his introduction to #4 on this list, "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human." I also would like to see "Shakespeare: The Evidence" by Ian Wilson on the list. Thank you for alerting me to some interesting titles and reminding me of others.


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