Six Contemporary Books Influenced by Shakespeare's Hamlet

Six Contemporary Books Influenced by Hamlet, a list of recommendations from This House of Books, a community-owned, independent  bookstore in downtown Billings, Montana

Hamlet has enthralled audiences for four centuries, but how well do you know the storyline of this compelling tale of familial discord, personal ambition, love, and revenge? Enhance your theater experience; find out why Hamlet continues as one the classics of the world stage.

This Shakespearean play has appeal for writers, too, and has served as the inspiration for many modern authors from Melville to La Seur. Consider these six titles for a contemporary take on the bard's vast endowment of words.

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
    In this fabulously inventive tale of Hamlet as told from the worm's-eve-view of the bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare's play. In Tom Stoppard's best-known work, this Shakespearean Laurel and Hardy finally get a chance to take the lead role but do so in a world where echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, where reality and illusion intermix, and where fate leads our two heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.
  • Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
    The resourceful literary detective Thursday Next returns to Swindon from the BookWorld accompanied by her son Friday and none other than the dithering Hamlet. But returning to SpecOps is no snap—as outlaw fictioner Yorrick Kaine plots for absolute power, the return of Swindon's patron saint foretells doom, and, if that isn't bad enough, The Merry Wives of Windsor is becoming entangled with Hamlet.
  • The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch
    This story of a twisted friendship between two writers features some cheekily cross-dressed sex scenes in which Julian (a young woman) dresses up as the gloomy Dane. Murdoch is strongest on the unpredictability of love, and the black comedy that can result.
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
    In this extraordinary retelling of Hamlet, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote Wisconsin but when catastrophe strikes, he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.
  • The Weight of an Infinite Sky by Carrie La Seur
    Explore the heart and mystery of Big Sky Country in this evocative and atmospheric novel of family, home, love, and responsibility inspired by William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
  • To Be or Not to Be by Ryan North
    This choose-your-own-path version of Hamlet by New York Times best-selling author Ryan North is pretty awesome. Readers can follow Yorick skull markers to stick closely to Shakespeare's plot, or go off-script and explore alternative possibilities filled with puzzles and humor.

Are audiobooks more your cup of tea? We've got you covered. Check out these versions of Hamlet and Hamlet-inspired options.

Aquila Theatre, one of the foremost producers of classical theatre in the US, is staging a performance of Hamlet at the Alberta Bair Theater on March 14, 2018. Directed by Desiree Sanchez, Aquila's Hamlet seeks to examine this tragic story in a new light. Through innovative use of movement, design, sound, and superb acting, the company will vividly explore this thrilling tale of political intrigue, murder, madness, and duels to the death. We encourage you to take in the performance.


Event date: 
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Alberta Bair Theater
2801 3rd Ave N
Billings, MT 59101