Must Read Books If You Like 'Romeo and Juliet'

Suggested Reading & Titles of Interest

William Shakespeare created one of the most memorable tragedies in literary history with Romeo and Juliet. It's a tale of star-crossed lovers, but they were destined to come together only in death. Of course, if you loved Romeo and Juliet, you'll probably love the other plays by Shakespeare. But there are a number of other works you'll likely enjoy as well. Here are a few books you must read.

01
of 06
Our Town - Thornton Wilder
Our Town. Harper

Our Town is an award-winning play by Thornton Wilder--it's an American play that's set in a small town. This famous work encourages us to appreciate the little things in life (since the present moment is all we have). Thornton Wilder once said, "Our claim, our hope, our despair are in the mind – not in things, not in 'scenery.'" More »

Antigone - Burial at Thebes
Antigone - Burial at Thebes. Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Seamus Heaney's translation of Sophocles' Antigone, in The Burial at Thebes, brings modern touches to the age-old tale of a young girl and the conflicts she faces--to fulfill all the demands of her family, her heart, and the law. Even when faced with certain death, she honors her brothers (paying them last rites). Ultimately, her final (and very tragic) end is similar to the culmination of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Fate... fate... More »

Many have loved this novel, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Although the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester is not usually considered star-crossed, the couple must overcome incredible obstacles in their desire to be together. Ultimately, their shared happiness seems almost fated. Of course, their love (which seems to be a union of equals) is not without consequences.

The Sound of the Waves (1954) is a novella by Japanese writer Yukio Mishima (translated by Meredith Weatherby). The work centers around the coming-of-age (Bildungsroman) of Shinji, a young fisherman who is in love with Hatsue. The young man is tested--his courage and strength eventually win out, and he's allowed to marry the girl.

05
of 06

Troilus and Criseyde

Troilus and Criseyde is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer. It's a retelling in Middle English, from Boccaccio's tale. William Shakespeare also wrote a version of the tragedy story with his play Troilus and Cressida (which was partially based on Chaucer's version, mythology, as well as Homer's Iliad).

In Chaucer's version, Criseyde's betrayal seems more romantic, with less intent than in Shakespeare's version. Here, as in Romeo and Juliet, we're focused on the star-crossed lovers, while other obstacles come to play--to tear them apart.

Wuthering Heights is a famous Gothic novel by Emily Bronte. Orphaned as a young boy, Heathcliff is taken in by the Earnshaws and he falls in love with Catherine. When she chose to marry Edgar, passion turns dark and full of vengeance. Ultimately, the fall-out of their volatile relationship affects many others (reaching even beyond the grave to touch the lives of their children).